Every organization and business needs a plan to handle media phone calls. These are the procedures you have in place to ensure only the appropriate people are commenting, and that such discussions are controlled at your end to the best extent possible, not vice versa.
Media can put your organization before a large audience. You want to handle such opportunities efficiently and professionally.
Here are four key points:
1. Have a gatekeeper. This is usually the first person to answer the phone at your workplace. It is essential that this person goes beyond just getting a name and phone number. Ask what the nature of the call is about. It’s OK to tell a reporter that the appropriate person will return their call shortly. Also ask about the deadline. These steps can buy you extra time and serve to prepare the person who will be responding.
2. Have designated spokespeople. Make sure you have more than one. When you rely on a single spokesperson, it can throw your media relations strategy into a crisis if that person is on vacation or unavailable. You want to respond to media. So have two or three spokespeople who are skilled at handling media calls.
3. If you are anticipating a media call, make sure staff knows this and are prepared. No surprises. Everyone knows where such calls should be directed. Why is this important? Reporters who get frustrated with automated phone systems can start punching numbers in an attempt to get inside your organization or company. That random extension could be anyone in your workplace.
4. Always have your Media Interview Kit ready. This can be a simple folder. Don’t shove it into a desk drawer and forget about it. This kit should contain your key messages. It will also contain facts about your company or organization. It will also include tips on how to handle various tactics that reporters may use.