Dealing with media enquiries
This guide has been drawn up to support you in your dealings with the media.
Day to day, non-controversial matters relating to your parish
You, of course, have full authority to comment. If you need any help or advice, do not hesitate to contact the media team (details below). The following tips may be useful:
- Gather information: name of journalist; name of newspaper, radio or TV station; name of programme; telephone number/email of journalist; nature of enquiry; reason for enquiry; staff or freelance; live or recorded programme; date and time for publication or broadcast.
- Offer to call back and use the time to contact third parties, decide on a course of action and agree a statement.
- Be brief and to the point.
- Be factual and frank when giving information. Always communicate in a firm, friendly manner.
- Answer questions in complete sentences. A ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to a loaded question can have startling consequences.
- Expect a reporter’s specialist knowledge to be limited. They are not employed to know the facts but to know how to find them.
- Expect to see your words ‘translated’. Reporters write for their paper’s audience.
- Prepare to be cross examined. A good reporter accepts nothing at face value.
- Do not be bullied. You are not bound to answer every question. Try to control the interview – in an astute and gentle way.
- Be positive. A denial or ‘no comment’ suggests you have something to hide.
- Do not flannel. If you have problems answering a question, tell the reporter you will find out and call back.
- If you do not want it reported, do not say it! Try to feed your reporter the facts in a way that dictates the angle of the interview.
If the media enquiry is about a controversial issue
It is recommended that you contact the Diocese of London media helpline which is available 24 hours a day as necessary. The telephone number is 020 7618 9106 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.