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Landfill Methane Outreach Program

Holding Successful Interviews

If you have sent media materials to a reporter, the reporter may want to interview you to obtain additional information. Or, a news outlet could make the first contact with you, requesting an interview. Your expertise will give the story credibility, and the reporter gets first-hand access to the facts.

If you are going to be interviewed by a reporter:

  • Prepare. Establish key messages before you call a reporter or are interviewed by one. Consider developing a page of quick facts (Talking Points) that highlight your communication goals. You may also want to provide a media kit to the reporter, containing basic information about the project or event, a contact person, and photographs, if available. Busy reporters may pass up potentially interesting news stories if not conveniently packaged.
  • Speak briefly in simple, non-technical terms. Often we forget that our area of expertise may be something entirely foreign to others. Keep in mind that most quotes on television, radio, or in newspapers are no more than ten seconds long. Adjust your messages to fit that structure.
  • Stick to your expertise and don’t be afraid to say, "I don’t know." Reporters may ask you to comment on areas outside your expertise, such as local government policy or toxic waste management. Stick to what you know to avoid being sidetracked or misquoted. Say no if you don’t know an answer; otherwise you risk losing your credibility. If you think you know who may be able to answer their question, feel free to steer them in that direction.
  • Personalize your answers. A reporter is your link to the community. Whenever possible, relate the landfill back to the community and tie your project to your audience. Local examples or names of local partners or end users make the story tangible.
  • Never repeat/introduce a negative. Landfill gas energy projects represent a win/win effort for your community—there is no need to bring negatives into an interview. If challenged on a point, always stress the benefits associated with your situation.

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