Working with the media
Few would disagree that most of us have become media-hungry, always ready to read a national headline or a local story, especially if it’s in the public interest. Education and schools are not immune and in your school leadership role you may be invited to engage with the local or even national media about a burning issue in the profession, pay or funding for example, or about your school’s latest inspection report.
To the untrained, this is an unenviable prospect and is territory that shouldn’t be entered into lightly and without being thoroughly prepared. To provoke your thinking about this prospect and to safeguard you against some of the pitfalls, we’ve pulled together some practical tips for navigating your way through any media-related intervention.
Tips for dealing with the media
- Ask for help – your employer will probably have its own press office or dedicated resource – if not, you can ask for support from the NAHT press office
- Treat journalists with courtesy; however, be aware they may have their own agenda
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, but offer to find out more and let the relevant person know later
- Don’t feel pressured into answering questions that relate to matters other than the ones you’re dealing with or which fall outside your area of knowledge or jurisdiction
- Don’t answer a question with “no comment”. This merely arouses suspicion, and it may create the impression that there is something to hide or that the story is true. Respond by stating you would prefer not to go into details at this sensitive time
- Try to detract from bad news by emphasising the positive
- Do not criticise others. Avoid using words that attach blame or liability to another person
- Resist responding to a news story so as not to extend the natural life of any bad news
- If you need to contain the story, don’t allow staff or pupils to be interviewed and don’t facilitate interviews with parents.
To give yourself added reassurance and confidence, who not take a look at our unabbreviated advice: “Working with the media” on our website.
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