How to respond to the media

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How to respond to the media

Postby KTMARCHER » Sun Nov 02, 2014 3:35 pm

Found this on the AMA District 37 forum. ... -the-media

I saw this on Race-Dezert and felt it was worth sharing.


I recently received this e-mail I thought it would be a good thing to share; considering the fragility of our sport here in the states, we must all watch our P's and Q's during interviews. With the new RMP they are trying to push through Nevada right now, we may be losing desert racing in Nevada very soon.

How To Respond To The Media (A List Worth Saving & Sharing)
by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer

You’re the president of an ATV or motorcycle club, going about your business, when you get a call from a newspaper reporter. They start asking tough questions. You feel unprepared. Do you:

a) Give the reporter some off-the-cuff answers and hope for the best.
b) Tell them you’re not interested and hang up.
c) Politely respond that you’d like to talk to them, and set up a time that works for both of you, giving you time to 1) get the facts and make an appropriate, factual response, or 2) be able to refer the reporter to an industry representative who deals with the media every day.

Of course, the answer is C. Now here’s the rest of the story.

At the annual NOHVCC Conference, held in August in Great Falls, Cam Arnold and Kathy Van Kleeck from the Motorcycle Industry Council and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America gave a presentation titled “Responding To The Media.”

Today, in addition to traditional media, we’re bombarded with an endless stream of social media, blogs, and reports from “citizen journalists” who like nothing more than to express their views, biased or not. “There is a blurring of the lines between news and opinions and you have to be very careful about that,” said Cam Arnold. “Comments never go away, they’re up there forever, so handling the media becomes very important.”

Many organizations have guidelines or a process for handling media inquiries. Typically, a media relations staff or an agency will screen each inquiry: vet the reporter, ask about the story, find out who else is being interviewed, confirm the deadline, and decide who is best to handle the inquiry.

The Basics Of Responding To The Media
Back to you. You’re the club president being put on the spot. What do you do? Here are “The Basics,” as presented by Arnold and Van Kleeck.

Assume you are the designated spokesperson for your club or association:

Remember who you are to the reporter. You represent your organization. Do not give personal opinions.
In most all cases, you know more than the reporter and the public, so:

Focus on what you want to say. You want to get your story, issue, or messages across. Focus on three key message points and stay on task. Less is always more. Work on your messages so they are clear and brief. Craft your messages into quotes or sound bites. Don’t use jargon or slang.
Do not make off-the-cuff comments. Assume everything is being recorded, even if you are told it is not.
Never speculate. Stick to what you know. If you do not know the answer to a reporter’s question, say you don’t know. Do not try to “fake it.” It will come back to haunt you.
Control the message by being proactive. From a 30 to 60 minute interview, perhaps only a single 9 to 15 second quote may be used.
Don’t think of a reporter as an adversary. You both need something from each other. You need coverage of your issue or organization. The reporter needs a story that will interest his or her audience.
It is never good to ignore a press inquiry. Cooperation does not guarantee sympathetic treatment but, at least, more objective reporting. If you don’t provide information, reporters will rely on their own assumptions and this most always causes problems.
Assume every camera and microphone is always recording. Never say anything you don’t want broadcast. An interview is never over until the reporter and camera crew are in the car and driving away.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Practice makes perfect.
Always remember who you are, why you’re being interviewed and your three key messages.

“Only talk about what you’re comfortable with,” said Van Kleeck. “If you aren’t comfortable, refer the reporter to us. We represent the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), and Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA). We have resources, and talking points to help craft your message to a particular situation.”

For assistance with media calls, contact MIC’s media hotline: 949-727-4211, ext. 3027. MIC and its Government Relations Office can:

Screen the inquiry to find out more about what the reporter’s interest is.
Help you prepare for an interview.
Help assist with testimony or provide information on OHV legislation and laws.

Want to share this information with the members of your club or association? You can download “Responding To The Media” and other powerpoint presentations shown at this year’s NOHVCC conference at:

Kim C
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SoCal MC

The Esposa Loca of the Desert

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Re: How to respond to the media

Postby Tawmass » Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:30 am

I was at this conference and attended this session. Good stuff and I will share this post in the Legislative Forum.
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Re: How to respond to the media

Postby Rx2Ride » Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:15 am

Great write up, thank you!
I learned my lesson when talking with a reporter on the phone. He asked the same question over and over, he kept probing me for a "personal" response, like he was not understanding my point. I finally gave him a "off the cuff" explanation, and that's the quote he used, like a salesman trying to wear you out, looking for an emotional response that will create an emotion for their audience. I learned my lesson and now will now respond via email or a letter only. Tread lightly...
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