Employee Pocket Guide
Office of External Affairs

Tips for Working with the Media

FWS personnel often have ample opportunity to engage with the media. Here are helpful hints to create a successful engagement.The public often has no idea what you do or how you do it. But they are VERY interested and need to hear how FWS employees are helping out in this incident.

  • You can and should talk to the media. If you want to decline (you can), do it respectfully. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have anything for you at this time.”
  • Stay in your lane. Don’t talk about other agencies or issues. Don’t speculate.
  • Don’t give your opinion. State the facts.
  • Say what you are doing in this response and how.
  • Be professional. Be polite.
  • Use terms you would use talking with your own kids.
  • Don’t use acronyms.
  • Talk about your training/qualifications that put you here.
  • When in doubt, call your Washington or Region External Affairs Office

More Hints

  • Take photos/video when in the field, but get Washington or Region External Affairs Office clearance for potentially sensitive or controversial imagery.
  • Wear FWS identified clothing. Wear Service uniforms properly. Take off your shades. If required, be in proper safety/protective gear.

General Do’s and Don’ts

New Carissa - media at scene. Credit: Phil Carroll/USFWS.
New Carissa - media at scene. Credit: Phil Carroll/USFWS.

Take your time; think before answering

Say if you don’t know.

Stick to the facts.

Say if you can’t answer/explain why.

Talk only about your area of expertise.

Assume everything is “on the record” and being recorded.

Maintain eye contact with the reporter.

Be firm, fair and honest.

Lie, guess or speculate.

Get upset or angry.

Repeat negative words from questions.

Play favorites with reporters.

Say “no comment.”

Introduce new issues or subjects


Last updated: July 23, 2013
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