In many instances during your career, a reporter may call you directly for a comment about a story. There are a few general guidelines you should follow to effectively communicate with the reporter.
1. Respond promptly to requests.
Even if you intend to decline the request, respond promptly. Reporters operate on tight deadlines from a few hours to several days, and not respecting those deadlines will damage your credibility with the news media.
2. Ask for the reporter's name and media outlet.
It is also acceptable to ask reporters about the type of story they are writing and if they have a specific angle they are pursuing. Also, be sure to ask them when they expect it to be published or aired.
3. Be prepared.
If you aren't prepared to talk on the spot, tell the reporter you will call them back, then follow through on that promise. Have a short list of points or messages you want to convey. Be brief and concise, and stop talking when you've made your point.
4. Be patient.
Some reporters will know a great deal about the subject; others may not. You can help a reporter tell the story accurately by suggesting what you believe is important. If you do not know the answer to a reporter's question, say so, then offer to find the answer for them, or refer them to an appropriate spokesperson.
5. Don't go off-the-record.
Anything you say could be quoted, though only a portion will likely be used. Avoid saying "no comment," which implies you have something to hide. Instead, be prepared with a statement, even admitting you don't have an answer at this time, but will get back to them.