Almost every college and professional team provides players and coaches with media training on the do’s and don’ts in a 24/7 media world. • Social media sites like twitter and Facebook add new problems—and opportunities—for athletes and coaches.
“In this age of streaming video and live coverage, you need to be aware that your every word and movement is public. There is no editing. You must be in the zone with your interview game face on.” • “Knowing what to say is just as important as knowing what route to run to get a first down or a touchdown,” saidPurdue Associate Athletics Communications Director Matt Rector. “Because what a player says during an interview can have a positive or negative affect on the program.
At the University of Louisville • Media training is on an individual basis. Sit and do 15-minute interviews on camera. That is reviewed and feedback is offered. • “We don’t tell them what to say, don’t tell them to use this cliché. We just advise them on how to do it, and how they are doing it.” Kenny Klein, SID
Quick Tips from Xavier University • No gum • Water only • Appropriate attire (no headphones, no hats) • Body language (sit up, stand up straight) • Look at the media • Avoid filler words (um, uh, you know, like) • Appropriate language (no curse words, no “bra,” “yu”)
Top Tips for Dealing with the Media • Be personalMake eye contact. Be friendly. • Be preparedThink about what you want to say beforehand. For postgame interviews, take a minute to collect your thoughts. For feature stories, outline key points in your mind or on paper. • Be professional and respectfulShow up on time for scheduled interviews. Understand the writer’s job is to report good and bad. Don’t take what they say personally. Source
Be engagingGive thoughtful answers. Appropriate humor is welcome. No ethnic, gender or religious slurs or insults. Give concise answers (20 seconds or less). Avoid jargon. Wherever possible, avoid clichés! • Be accommodatingBefriend the media. They are your ally—or your worst enemy. • Live by the “Locker room code”What happens in the locker room should stay in the locker room. Don’t air your dirty laundry in public by throwing coaches and teammates “under the bus.” • Know how and when to not answer.It’s OK to courteously not comment on something you’re asked. Or refer to a more knowledgeable third person. (But avoid saying, “No comment” because of connotations). As Plato once said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” • Answer only the questions you are asked. Volunteering information often gets you in trouble. Avoid “What if” questions. Don’t keep talking to fill a silence gap, especially when an interviewer pauses at the end of your answer. That moment of silence is when the most ill-prepared answers are given (Condron, 2011).
Do not lie or misleadIf you’re asked a question you’re not prepared to answer, speak the truth or not at all. The lie is often bigger than the original misdeed. • Avoid off the recordDon’t say anything you don’t reported or don’t want to get back to you. Embrace the new reality that there are no secrets. Eventually, everything comes out. • If you don’t understand the question, say so. Orrepeat the question to be clear. Or say, “I think you’re asking.” • Let the journalist finish asking the question before you answer. • If a reporter asks an inaccurate question, you can correct them politely and professionally. • No trash talking of the other team or blaming someone else. • Act like this is funAfter all, it’s still just a game!
Leading questions • “Have your ever been more frustrated by your team’s play?” • Don’t allow yourself to be provoked. • Don’t let the reporter’s question “dictate” your answer. • You don’t have to repeat any of the question in your answer.
The 6 questions you always get asked • Questions you don’t know the answer toNothing wrong with saying “I don’t know.” Don’t try to make things up on the fly. • Questions that call for speculationNever answer the “what if.” It will come back to haunt you. • Questions that ask for your personal opinionRemember it may be “your” personal opinion but it will be associated with your school or organization. • Yes or no questionsThe issues: Bad sound bite, making you choose. • Third-party questionsResponding to something an opponent said. Instead, focus on your team. • The repeated question repeatedDon’t be fooled. Keep your answer the same. And don’t show frustration. Source
Examples: After Purdue’s loss to Kansas: • Mathias in the locker room (what question(s) should he be prepared for?) (let’s look at the 2 minute mark) • Caleb at the 1:11 mark (what question(s) should he be prepared for?) Let’s compare: after Kentucky’s loss in 2016 in Sweet Sixteen: • Dominque Hawkins (junior backup guard from Kentucky) in locker room