American Judges Association

"The Voice of the Judiciary"

Top Ten Media Tips

1.                  Ground Rules - establish the ground rules before an interview, including location, duration and subject matter. 

2.                  Ethical Considerations - consult your own state ethical guidelines relating to comments for the media, as well as the ABA Model Rules. 

3.                  Terminology - understand what off the record does and doesnít mean.  Ordinarily, it means that the information may not be published or broadcasted, but it can have different meanings in different circumstances, including not for attribution and background only.  Most important, a statement is generally not considered off the record, unless there is an agreement in advance between the reporter and the interviewee.   Understand that off the record is not always honored, so expect that you are always on the record. 

4.                  Preparation - be prepared for the interview.  Prepare your desired message, with positive phrases that will interest the reporter.   Make notes prior to the interview with facts and figures you can refer to, if necessary.  Be prepared for the tough questions. 

5.                  Language - avoid legalese.  Speak clearly.  Remember the KISS principle:  Keep It Short & Simple.  

6.                  Honesty - be honest and accurate.  Tell the truth.  Donít speculate or guess.  If you donít know the answer, say so, and offer to find the answer for the reporter.  If you make a mistake, let the reporter know immediately. 

7.                  Promptness - be on time for the interview.  Return phone calls promptly, even if you cannot make a comment.  Respect reporterís deadlines. 

8.                  Focus Ė know your message and speak directly to it.  Donít stray from the subject.  Speak only to matters you are prepared to discuss.  Donít feel compelled to fill dead air space with additional comments. 

9.                  Demeanor Ė use confident body language.  Use energetic voice inflection.  Remain relaxed.  Make eye contact and lean toward the interviewer. 

10.              Courtesy Ė be courteous to the interviewer.  Develop a rapport by asking questions and making general conversation.  Be relaxed.  Offer the interviewer a beverage, as you would any visitor. 

Revisit this website in the future for more information.   In the meantime, contact the National Center for State Courts for more information on this topic.

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