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School Marketing Blog

The professional school marketing manager needs to be up-to-date with the latest school marketing strategies and resources to successfully implement the school marketing plan. This school marketing blog enables school marketing professionals to engage in blog discussions relating to the school marketing issues of today. The 'School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed)', 2011, by Bryan Foster, forms the basis for most of these blog posts.

Managing the Media Interview - 6 Key Strategies

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The media interview is often a challenging, yet necessary, and often a very rewarding experience, for those involved with marketing - yet each interview needs to be well managed and prepared for...

Following are six key strategies needing special management prior to and during the interview.

The case study below is relevant for most professional and business media interviews but is based on the school situation.

1. Be well prepared!

The media interview is a very important means of getting your message across to an outside media outlet. Again - Be well prepared! (This can never be repeated enough!)

The interview is usually conducted by a journalist at the school. Sometimes over-the-phone interviews occur.

2. Who is interviewed?

Students are mostly interviewed. Sometimes the Principal and various staff members may be interviewed. Often the School Marketing Manager (SMM) will be interviewed but this is mainly as a result of clarification being needed by the journalist for a particular story or upcoming interview.

The SMM may be asked to give quick quotes for the completion of a story or for an addition to a news story requiring a school's input. The SMM may need to seek the Principal's input for these types of quotes. The SMM may need to obtain a quote from the Principal.

3. Preparation for the interview

School representatives need to be well prepared for any interview. If possible, practice interviews should be conducted before the journalist arrives. The SMM should pre-empt possible questions for those being interviewed.

Even if the interviewee is the only person who knows the detail being sort, the SMM's preparedness is required. Go over with the interviewee what the procedure will be and possible questions. The SMM needs to build confidence in the person about to be interviewed. This is best done through thorough preparation. People feel more confident when questioned on areas for which they are prepared.

Prior to the journalist arriving, the SMM should make firm plans with those to be interviewed to meet at a designated time and at a designated place. This allows the SMM to ascertain whether everyone is present and if any last minute change of arrangements is required.

4. 3-4 Key Points

Concentrating on the key 3-4 points you want to get across is often the best and easiest way of approaching the preparation and interview. However, it is also necessary to try and pre-empt possible 'curly' questions and develop possible responses.

5. Expect the Unexpected

Sometimes the journalist is late. This is unfortunate; however it is best to make plans to suit the journalists for as soon as they are able to arrive. This sometimes causes great inconvenience to the school, interviewees and SMM. Sometimes either the journalist or photojournalist arrives at different times. This is not usually a problem as it is possible to start with just one present.

6. Conducting the Interview:

• The SMM would meet the journalist and often a photojournalist at the School Office. Welcome them appropriately and have them sign in. They may need to wear school endorsed name tags while in the school grounds.

• Offer them a non-alcoholic drink.

• Have a predetermined venue on offer, whether indoors or outdoors depending on the nature of the story and weather conditions at that moment. Offer this suggestion to the journalist who will usually accept.

• Have a chat about where you are about to go, the interviewees involved and any restrictions e.g. time restrictions that may be apparent.

• The SMM then takes the journalists and interviewees to the selected venue/s.

• If some photos are being taken at the same time as some interviews, the SMM will need to arrange for another well informed staff member to assist the photojournalist.

• The SMM, or any designated staff member, should usually remain with the journalists until they leave the school grounds.


A successful media interview is both rewarding for those from the school interviewed and the school itself. Being well prepared is an absolute necessity. Being able to turn a negative into a positive is exceptionally rewarding. Remember to try and concentrate on your 3-4 key points, however difficult this may

The 'Managing the Media Interview - 6 Key Strategies' blog post was written by Bryan Foster, author of School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed), (2011) - the paperback and ebook manual for school communications and marketing personnel - 340 pages of easy to read and implement summarized points - allowing for a considerably large number of quality strategies and examples to be detailed - with copyright remaining GDPL. Book available from and

The Difficult Media Circumstance and Appropriate Response

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Occasionally the school will experience the Difficult Media circumstance.

Sometimes the media may request an interview with or without forewarning

This usually happens when a story is considered exceptional for their circumstance. This may be when something controversial or of a significant status has occurred and the media wants to run with that story on that day or the next.

Examples of these would include:

  • a disaster where the school has had major damage, such as from a major storm or fire
  • a staff member or student has been allegedly involved with something illegal
  • a former student has done something highly successful, controversial or allegedly illegal
  • the government or city council have or will make a decision that impacts significantly on the school, etc.

School's Response

In this case initially you need to advise the media that the school, through the principal, yourself or someone with authority, will speak with them shortly.

You have every right to consider your options before speaking.

It is often best to contact the systemic Communications Manager, if such a role exists. This manager is usually familiar with best practice for such events. The manager will either become directly involved and speak on behalf of the school or offer suggestions on the best approach. The manager may also contact others within or outside the system who may be able to offer advice eg lawyers, building or insurance advisors / consultants, counsellors, etc.

Offering a “No comment” is often fraught with potential misinterpretation or even worse, taking the story according to the information they have which may not be the truth or whole truth. Comment truthfully.

You do not need to give all the details but offer what is needed for the media enquiry allowing for privacy and ethical considerations.When School Marketers experience the Difficult Media Situation comment to the media truthfully.

This may be just a simple, “Thank you for the enquiry. We will get back to you shortly.”

If the school decides to act on the request itself there are a number of approaches which should benefit the school:

  • Be available for an interview in person or over the phone.
  • Be positive and in control during the interview
  • Appearance is important eg appropriate demeanour, dress, stance
  • Control the backdrop for television or newspaper photo to get the positive visual message out that you want
  • Answer all questions, but turn the answer to what you want to emphasise
  • Having 3-4 key points is a good approac

State the obvious, such as:

  • no one was hurt, or unfortunately some people were injured
  • damage to the property was significant or minimal
  • the most important thing is that no-one was hurt, only property damage occurred and that this will be repaired as soon as possible or
  • unfortunately some people were hurt and the school is currently doing everything possible for those people eg ambulance was called immediately, there will be ongoing medical assistance, school counsellor involved for those directly affected and others at school, other counsellors are coming from sister schools, etc.
  • the school / principal is sorry that this unfortunate event occurred, all procedures have been followed and that everything possible will be done to ensure that this won‟t happen again. If updating procedures is necessary then this will be done immediately.


Be available to keep the media updated as the situation changes or developments are made.

The 'The Difficult Media Circumstance and Appropriate Response' blog post was written by Bryan Foster, author of School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed), (2011) - the paperback and ebook manual for school communications and marketing personnel - 340 pages of easy to read and implement summarized points - allowing for a considerably large number of quality strategies and examples to be detailed - with copyright remaining GDPL. Book available from and

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