Advice to Security Professionals When Dealing with the Media

Stephen Lopez explained how school and hospital security professionals should interact with the media and gave best practices.

A session at Campus Safety’s National Forum explained how hospital and school security officials should deal with the media and discussed best practices.

The June 26 session, Media Tips for the Non-PIO Executive, was hosted by the Chief of Police for the New Mexico State University System Stephen Lopez.

Lopez started by explaining who the media is, what their needs are and what the role of the Public Information Officer, or PIO, is. “Almost anybody can be the news media, so the problem becomes who do we let into press conferences? We give most people access, even if they don’t always have a background in journalism,” Lopez said.

Lopez also covered the difference between broadcast and print journalism, professional and amateur journalism and national versus local journalism.

“Local media is looking to get a story out to the community, the national news media is investing a lot of media to send someone to you, so they’ve got a lot of pressure to have something to report on for each news cycle,” Lopez said.

Although he said not having all the answers is okay, Lopez said getting information to the news media is important. “You don’t want the news media working hard to get the information because if they don’t get the information from you, they’ll get it from the guy on the street who has no idea what he’s talking about and you lose control of the story,” Lopez explained.

Lopez also told attendees to think of the headlines your statements will cause and cater to them, using something he called the “Rules of Threes,” which includes focusing on making three key points, putting those points in no more than three sentences and saying those things three times.

Other topics covered included pitfalls to avoid. Lopez considered using over-reassurance, taking things personally, blaming victims and getting into debates or arguments with reporters as things not to do.

One of the overriding messages of the session was to set a good example for your organization.

About the Author

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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