Questions to ask when preparing for a media opportunity.
- Who will be our spokesperson and respond to the media?
Board or committee members are often the most effective spokespeople for your association. Whoever is the spokesperson should be knowledgeable, easily available and willing to keep all stakeholders (board members, manager and attorney if appropriate) in the loop.
- What outcome do we want to achieve from this media contact?
What’s your key message? Who is the audience you want to reach or are concerned about? Delivering a thoughtful, positive message is much better than just defending against accusations. Be prepared to talk about the benefits and protection the association covenants provide to all residents.
- What is the reporter’s deadline?
When a reporter calls, it’s always best to take some time to gather current information and prepare. Ask the reporter what information they’re looking for and who they’ve already talked to. Then, see if you can call them back quickly. Be sure to meet their deadline, otherwise your side of the story may not be told.
- What is the association’s official position on this issue?
Think through the worst-case scenario. If a legal matter may be involved, it’s always best to consult with the association’s attorney before developing a response or talking points. That way you won’t say something that inadvertently jeopardizes the association.
- We’re not ready to, or legally shouldn’t, talk to the press about this issue. How should we say that?
Be honest about why you can’t answer. Reasons might include homeowner confidentiality; the board hasn’t yet reached a decision, or litigation. For example, “We just heard about this situation, and the board is looking into it. I’ll be happy to get back to you when we have more information.”
- I’ve never been on TV/radio before. What should I do if I’m nervous?
Be yourself! Practice delivering your key messages or talking points in a mirror. Watch your body language and try to look natural and relaxed. Listen carefully to the questions, and take the time you need to think through your answers.
Media Dos and Don’ts
- Do prepare a list of 3 to 5 talking points
- Do be candid and truthful
- Do emphasize a positive point of view
- Do be brief and to the point
- Do use everyday language
- Do smile while speaking (even if you’re not on TV) so you’ll sound more comfortable
- Do say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get you the information” when appropriate
- Don’t memorize whole sentences
- Don’t speculate, guess or answer hypothetical questions
- Don’t be defensive
- Don’t go into details
- Don’t use jargon, technical terms or complex sentences
- Don’t take questions personally
- Don’t say “no comment”