Guidance for RCPCH Press Panel members

This leaflet for our media spokespersons tells you about the work of the RCPCH press office and what it means to be a member of the Press Panel. It gives you interview guidance and tips for working with journalists.
Last modified
26 April 2018

Purpose of the RCPCH press office

We aim to ensure the College is seen and used as the ‘go to’ for media enquiries relating to child health.

We work proactively with the media to effectively and accurately communicate the health issues that affect infants, children and young people to the public, nationally and locally.

Using our members as spokespeople gives our voice added strength, both in raising the profile of the College and the work of paediatricians more generally.

By working closely with all parts of the media, from local newspapers and trade magazines, to online new sights and national TV, we can give a balanced account or explanation to increase understanding of particular illnesses and child health issues.

Most importantly, the press office is here to support you – our spokespeople – and is available anytime to offer you help and advice before, during, or after a media interview.

When we get a press enquiry

We look at our list of spokespeople and select someone who expertise in the same area. We then check to see if you are available and whether you would be happy to do the interview.

Whether you are interviewed by phone or being recorded for a piece on television or radio, we will prepare a briefing for you. This will have the key facts, statistics, things to avoid and the College’s key line on the issue.

If the journalist would like a written statement, we will draft a quote and send it to you for comments/approval.

Do's and don'ts of interviews

  • You don’t have to answer any questions you don’t feel comfortable with.
  • You’re the expert – you may know more about the area than the journalist.
  • Never use jargon – remember the audience doesn't have specialist knowledge.
  • You can’t control what the media say, but by keeping to your key lines, you can stay in control of the interview.

A journalist should always contact you through the College. If they approach you directly, advise them to contact the press office.

Before the interview

If you are recording a television or radio interview, we will tell you when and where the interview will be and whether it will be ‘live’ or pre-recorded.

If there is time before the interview, read your briefing and check you are familiar with your key lines (the information you most want to get across).

Make sure you are up to date on the issue and know the arguments for and against. This includes any RCPCH policy or publications that might back up your view.

Think about the types of questions you could be asked and how you would respond. If you are being interviewed on television or radio, remember to ask the interview that the first question is going to be.

If during the interview there is a question you can’t answer, use the ‘bridging technique’ to move onto more comfortable territory.

Remember – if you could like a practise interview before you speak to the journalist, contact the press office.

Top 10 tips for the interview

  1. Ensure a strong start by getting your proposition statement right. Be clear about the problem you’re addressing, the solution to it, and the impact that solution will have.
  2. ‘Keep it simple’ – know your audience and use language they will understand.
  3. Give clear and concise answers – long-winded answers can confuse journalists and distort your key messages.
  4. If the journalist says something that is wrong (for example a statistic is incorrect), make sure you politely correct them.
  5. Keep to your key messages. It isn’t a problem if you say something more than once as long as it’s relevant.
  6. Have any statistical evidence to hand that supports your view.
  7. If you are unsure of an answer to a question, say so – never say ‘no comment’ as this looks suspicious.
  8. If the interview is pre-recorded and you are unhappy with how you answered something, you can ask to re-record it.
  9. Give examples of your own experiences but remember not to divulge too much information as you may risk breaching patient confidentiality.
  10. Avoid wearing bright colours, stripes, checks or distracting jewellery or ties for television interviews.

Try to relax and enjoy the experience. And remember, take your time to think, talk to others and prepare ahead of your interview.

After the interview

If your interview was for television or radio and you’d like some feedback on it, please contact the press office.

We should also have a copy of any national, regional and local print coverage you have been quoted in. If you’d like a copy, please get in touch.

Misquotes

In the unlikely event of being misquoted, contact the press office with details of the article and the quote that needs correcting.

Is your project newsworthy?

Perhaps you are working on a research, quality improvement or educational programme that you think will generate interest in the media. If so, please get in touch with us.

Some questions to help determine how much media interest your programme may get:

  • Is the work new?
  • Why is it needed?
  • Will it affect a particular group of people?
  • How will it affect the outside world?