It is in the best interests of students and employees for media relations to be conducted in an orderly, thoughtful and consistent manner. The following procedures have been established for working with news media. These procedures are not intended to prevent media from gathering information; rather, they are to ensure media is able to seek information while minimizing disruption to school district operations.
The Superintendent is the primary district spokesperson. He/she will speak for the district on matters of district-wide interest, legal issues, or situations involving perceived controversy. The Superintendent may select a designee to represent the district on these topics. No employee should speak with the media on these topics unless he/she has the approval of the Superintendent or his/her designee.
News Media Access to Schools and Students
Like all visitors, reporters and news photographers must have approval to enter a school building or be on district grounds. Principals should contact the Superintendent’s Office when media arrives at a school unannounced.
The Superintendent encourages principals, teachers and staff who have strong, positive relationships with news media representatives to share story ideas that benefit their schools. Principals may approve of media visits to promote positive activities within the school. Media must receive the approval of the principal or his/her designee before speaking with faculty, staff or students or taking photographs or video.
Prior to scheduling media visits, principals must contact parents to seek written permission for student(s) to be photographed or interviewed. Principals must ensure they have a signed permission form for each student to be interviewed. Students who do not have a signed permission form may not participate in media interviews or be photographed by media. (However, no parental permission is necessary if the student[s] will not be identifiable in a picture. For example, video showing the back of students’ heads while a teacher gives instruction does not violate student privacy.)
In Case of Emergency
Because newsrooms are equipped with police scanners, when an emergency call involving a school goes out media will most likely respond. Principals should notify the Superintendent’s Office as soon as possible when an emergency or crisis occurs. Media should not be allowed to impede response to the emergency. The principal or emergency personnel may ask media to leave the campus if their presence interferes with emergency operations or student safety. Remember: Sidewalks, streets and rights-of-way are public property; media may stage themselves there without permission unless emergency personnel order them to leave.
In the event of a serious crisis such as a fire or act of violence, the Superintendent or his/her designee will go to the scene and respond to media inquiries. Media access to the school will be limited to a specific media staging area.
At times, the media may want to interview a specific employee, such as a teacher who has won an award or teachers in general if the state is considering changes that will affect the classroom. The Superintendent may request an employee allow himself/herself to be interviewed. Employees have a right to decline this opportunity.
While employees have a First Amendment right to free speech, they should consider the effect their comments could have on the reputation and perception of the district. Even though an employee may speak as an individual, the comments may be perceived as representing the district if he/she is identified as an employee.
Common Sense Rules
When a reporter calls, ask for the topic to be discussed. If the issue is of a district-wide nature, involves a legal issue or could be perceived as controversial, direct the caller to the Superintendent’s Office by saying that according to the district’s media relations procedures the Superintendent is the best contact for that issue. If the topic is of a school nature (a special event or class activity), determine whether student permission forms will be required and arrange for a visit at a time that will have minimal impact on classroom instruction.
When speaking with reporters, be truthful and accurate. Keep your comments as simple as possible. Get right to the point. While being interviewed, be confident, composed and straightforward. If the interview is for television broadcast, try to smile and look at the person conducting the interview. Keep in mind the way you will look and sound to viewers.
Avoid wearing black, white, or red on television or video. Even the best of cameras have trouble with these colors.
Do not wear any clothing with tight patterns or pin stripes. This causes an optical illusion called a moiré pattern which looks poor on television.
Avoid clothing with large patterns or geometric shapes. The audience will watch your clothes instead of you.
Find out the background color of the set if possible. You don't want your clothing to blend in and make you invisible.
Avoid flashy jewelry as it reflects light.
Avoid jangly jewelry as it makes noise that will be picked up by your microphone.
Wear makeup as it will reduce the glare of TV lights. Apply it to all exposed body parts, like backs of hands, arms, neck, etc. Apply cover-up below eyes to mask bags and/or wrinkles.
Bring a handkerchief or tissues to dab perspiration during breaks.
Act as if you are always on screen. I can’t stress this enough.
It is a good idea to keep all suit jackets buttoned, especially double-breasted jackets. Sit on the back of the jacket to keep it from puffing up at the buttons.
Make sure a lavaliere or lapel microphone can be attached to your clothing, otherwise you have to run it under your clothes and unless you’re really comfortable around the crew, you won’t want to do that!
Don’t wear tinted glasses, which will appear as sunglasses on air.
Pastel shirts work well on television - Blue is a good color for television
For women, do not wear vivid red lipstick. Stick to softer tones and dab lips with a little powder for the best look on television.
Sample Procedures for Working with News Media
Television Wardrobe Tips
Copyright © Bewley Communications 2013
Web page problems? Contact Tim Bewley : email@example.com