Dealing with the media

A guide to maximising media opportunities

Download Dealing with the media – a guide to maximising media opportunities (PDF, 176KB)

On this page:

  1. First things first
  2. Why seek media attention?
  3. What the media wants
  4. Key messages are vital
  5. Making the media work for you
  6. Taking a call from a journalist
  7. Preparing for an interview
  8. During the interview
  9. Helpful interview tips

First things first

Let NZNO know what you are planning.

Contact NZNO communications and media advisor.

Phone: 027 431 2617 or email 

Back to top

Why seek media attention?

  • To get nursing messages into the public arena
  • To inform our communities and members
  • To increase understanding of our campaigns and aims
  • To generate community support for nursing
  • To ensure NZNO members have a strong voice.

Back to top

What the media wants

In order to get our stories in the media we need to understand what the media want and how they determine what is "news".

Newsworthy - why is this story important?

Timely - something that happened a while ago is old news

Local angle - what is happening in your region?

Easy - not too complicated. And no jargon! ("Our DHB CNM supports CCDM...")

Pictures - a picture tells a thousand words

Real people - real members true stories of members' lives

Sensational - the media loves a scandal

Back to top

Key messages are vital

Key messages are very important. They are the "sound bites" that people will remember long after they have forgotten the rest of your interview or article.

Use key messages in all your media activity. People hear and remember strong clear messages when we say them over and over again.

They need to be statements listeners and readers can relate to and agree with.

Key messages are concise statements that we use consistently across all communication methods. They are designed to be used repeatedly and can be incorporated into presentations, meetings, media interviews and written materials.

They are very short (10 seconds) and it is worth spending time preparing them. Contact NZNO communications and media adviser if you would like assistance developing your messages.

  • Repeat key messages as often as you can - don’t worry about sounding repetitive
  • Be consistent
  • Keep them simple, short, clear
  • Make them "catchy"
  • Include facts
  • Write them down.

Back to top

Making the media work for you

To be effective in the media you need to use the language of the media – bold words, strong statements, colourful quotes

To get the type of media attention you want you must:

  • Identify goals - what do you want to achieve?
  • Seek opportunities - go to the media, don’t wait for them to come to you!
  • Find newsworthy angles - what will capture peoples’ attention?
  • Set up "stunts" - highly visual creative “stunts” get coverage
  • Repeat key messages - say them again and again and again ...

Back to top

Taking a call from a journalist

Stay calm!

Find out as much as you can.

  • What is the interview about?
  • What’s the angle?
  • Who else is being interviewed?
  • When and where will it be published?
  • Have they talked to anyone else?
  • What questions will they ask you - or if they can’t tell you exactly, what is the scope of the questions?
  • What is the deadline?

Tell the reporter you can’t talk right now and arrange to call them back. Even if you call them back in 10 minutes you will have some time to prepare.

Back to top

Preparing for an interview

Let NZNO know what you are doing.

Contact the NZNO communications and media adviser: phone 027 431 2617 or email

What the media want from an interview:

  • The facts: who, what, when, why, how
  • A story: an angle or headline
  • Cooperation: if they don’t get yours, they will find someone else!

What the media don’t want:

  • "No comment"
  • Lies

"I'm sorry I don’t have the information to answer that question"

  • Stalling
  • Being evasive
  • Someone who says they will call back and then doesn’t
  • Aggression
  • Being told what or what not to say

Make some notes: include key messages and a couple of sentences that sum up the point you want to make.

Think about the hardest questions you might be asked.

Have a couple of phrases ready to keep the interview on track.

"That’s an interesting point but the main issue for NZNO is..."

"That’s a good question but the question we would ask is..."

Practice with a colleague.

Back to top

During the interview

Introduce yourself and make it clear that you are speaking as an NZNO representative. Some workplaces have strict policies about who can speak with the media. These won’t apply to you if you are speaking as an NZNO member. If you are worried or not sure get in touch the NZNO’s communications and media adviser: phone 027 431 2617 or email


  • Be calm
  • Know your key messages inside out
  • Answer the question
  • Stop! Don’t waffle on


  • Don’t give your personal opinion
  • Correct innaccuracies
  • Be clear about boundaries

“I can’t answer that until a decision is made”


  • Begin with a positive mesage
  • Phrase your position in a positive way
  • Keep your body language open

Back to top

Helpful tips

  • Aim for responses of between 10 and 20 seconds
  • Avoid using YES and NO
  • Avoid using jargon
  • Always stay on the record
  • Be "NZNO"
  • Pause and think before you speak
  • Stop talking when you are finished
  • Ring back the reporter if you have anything further to add
  • Remember you are being interviewed because you are the expert
  • Use colourful and interesting language
  • Give facts, lists and examples
  • Remember who your audience is - local or national, specialised or general
  • Don’t be afraid to suggest a photo opportunity

When you see the story, or hear it on the radio, ring the reporter if there are any factual mistakes so they are not repeated in future stories.

It’s good to give praise too! If it’s a good story, let the reporter know.

Live interviews

Live interviews cannot be edited. This is their distinguishing feature. Recorded interviews should be as close to a live one as possible since editing is time consuming and expensive. The producer will love a good, direct interview that requires little or no editing - and will call you again!

Listen hard

Listen to each question and answer the question that was asked - unless it can’t be answered, in which case say so. Don’t bluster and feel you must say something. You usually end up answering a vaguely related point which is annoying to listen to.

Say it straight

Say it straight out without qualification. Resist being precise or pedantic over unnecessary details. Digressions and qualifications are unlikely to be broadcast and make the job of editing harder.

Don’t lecture

Do not give a lecture. The interviewer acts in the role of the individual listeners and they want their questions asked and answered. Keep the answer sounding like a conversation and let the interviewer get questions in without it sounding rude.

Show your passion

Be passionate but not frivolous. Above all, sound as if you are interested in your subject.

Repeat yourself

Do not be afraid to repeat yourself. During a recorded interview, treat each repetition as a fresh explanation and avoid referring back to earlier points.


Focus on your key messages. There will not be time to tell the whole story and mention everyone involved so do not try.
If terms or concepts need explaining the interviewer will invite you to do so.

Get your point across

If you think you are not getting the point across then say so. One of the advantages of a recorded interview is that there is an opportunity to re-orient the interview. In a live interview, if you feel the questions reveal that the interviewer is missing the point, you have to be more careful and try to steer the interview back on course.

Dress code

Dress smartly. Patterns and florals don’t look great on tv. Simple colours work best.

It’s on the record

Remember - if you are talking to a broadcaster, be it a researcher, interviewer or producer, you are being interviewed. There is no such thing as “off the record”.

Download Dealing with the media - a guide to maximising media opportunities (PDF, 176KB)

Back to top