Toolkit Bann3r

What to do when a ​journalist calls

  1. Always be courteous (even if the reporter is aggressive); rude people make bad news. It is important to find other ways of saying 'No Comment'.... e.g. 'I'm not really the right person - you need to speak to our communications people, and I can give you a number.'

  2. If the call is unexpected, don't feel under pressure to answer questions straight away. Find out what they want and who they are working for. Ask them to ring back in five/ten minutes, or say that you will ring them back. This gives you time to think, call the Communications Team at ​Church House Guildford for advice, and write out what you want to say. If you agree to ring them back, make sure you do. If a busy reporter suggests visiting you, welcome this and make sure the kettle is on!
  3. When giving information to the media, it is best to be factual, frank, deliberate and to the point, but ALWAYS in a firm, friendly manner.
  4. Answer questions in your own words and in complete sentences. A 'Yes' or 'No' to a loaded question can have startling consequences.
  5. You're not bound to answer every question, so don't be bullied. If possible, make sure that you control the interview in an astute and gentle way. It's perfectly OK to say to say: 'That's not the right question to ask, I think it's important to know that...etc'.
  6. Be positive - mere denials or a flat refusal to comment suggests you have something to hide. This could be an opportunity to kill false rumours. Mistakes multiply when people refuse to talk, so be helpful and the reporter will usually respond in the same way. However, if a call relates to an active police matter say so, and close the call politely with 'As this is a police matter, you will appreciate that it wouldn't be appropriate for me to say anything at this stage'.

  7. If you have problems answering a question, don't flannel. If appropriate, tell the reporter you'll find out and call back.
  8. The reporter has column inches/air minutes to fill. Feed them your facts in a way that dictates the angle of the interview. If you don't want it reported, don't say it!
  9. Never go 'off the record'. It just isn't worth it and it's not safe. This is not to misjudge the reporter, rather if something is worth saying, be honest and say it!
  10.  ​Never try ​to pull rank on a reporter.

SAFEGUARDING The Diocese does not tolerate abuse of any kind. Enquiries
YOUR DATA PRIVACY View the diocesan general privacy notice and data protection policy.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;

it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31

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