Preparation is Key: Ensuring Your Chief is Ready for Media Interviews

Preparation is Key: Ensuring Your Chief is Ready for Media Interviews
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-02-10
Unit 1Slide Deck: Preparation is Key
Unit 2Transcript: Preparation is Key
Unit 3Workbook: Preparation is Key
Unit 4Recording: Preparation is Key

Dealing with critical incidents is a default setting for those working in the law enforcement arena. Those in the front lines are putting themselves at risk handling some of the most difficult situations and characters in the community. Meanwhile, those in the leadership positions are facing a different type of threat, putting their names, agencies, honor, and at worst their lives on the line too. Their aggressor? The stories spun by the media and the opinion of the public. How to deal with this? Preparation is the key.

This webinar is led by Katie Nelson. Katie is the Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator and Public Information Officer at the Mountain View Police Department in Northern California who’s been in charge of MVPD’s social media management and engagement efforts since 2015.

This session’s discussion tackled:

  • The importance of ‘getting ugly early’ where you provide as much important information upfront to take control of the narrative and leave no room for misinformation.
  • The media’s need to build a story, their source without firsthand information from the entities directly involved, and supplying them with the information through platforms they use as sources.
  • The concept of the Time, Transparency, and Trust Delta that plays out when providing the media with information during a critical incident.
  • Cases for why holding a press conference might be a bad idea and a one-on-one interview is preferred.
  • The value in sticking with a few main talking points that speak to the emotion and is reflected in all outward media communication to ensure continuity.
  • Best practices and tips when holding one-on-one interviews that look into:
    • Abiding by the schedule and talking points to prevent the conversation from going off-tangent.
    • Keeping an eye on ongoing stories circulating online.
    • Addressing pressing issues or negative sentiments immediately to control the narrative.
    • Providing a break in between interviews to curb exhaustion and observe self-care.
    • Anticipating the questions that the media will likely be asking.
    • Keeping the messaging concise that can easily be turned into soundbytes or tweets.
    • Providing a supplementary press release during the interview to reiterate the critical points.
    • Asking the reporter for the specific area of interest and what they’re looking for with the story.
    • Considering the reporters’ deadlines and providing them with a prompt turnaround if what they need isn’t ready yet.
  • Pointers to remember in terms of:
    • Instances when an interview request should be turned down.
    • Appearance and presence during the interview.
    • Building and fostering relationships with reporters and media organizations.
    • The importance of practicing the talking points and being wary of body language.
    • Evading negative/loaded phrases and repositioning these with positive intent and language.
    • How silence, “no comment”, and going off-the-record can be potentially damaging.
    • How to maintain being the driver and steering the direction of the conversation.


Questions from the audience were about:

  • Definition of terms.
  • Handling false narratives and misinformation being circulated on online platforms.
  • Where exactly to face when being interviewed.
  • Who could serve as the face for the media other than the agency head, and circumstances where only the agency head should be addressing the media/public?
  • The must-have social media platforms that agencies must engage in.
  • Using live streams for outreach activities.
  • Media training for agency leaders.
  • Vetting online-only journalists.


Other Webinars with this Speaker:


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Resources Mentioned During Webinar



Audience Comments

  • “The whole webinar was great. Relevant to me as I am developing training for police chiefs. This has been one of the best webinars I have taken through JCH. Great class and instructor.” — Amber
  • “The entire webinar was interesting. The speaker was well-prepared and knowledgeable.” — Denise
  • “I thought the webinar highlighted essential concepts and areas in an efficient and clear way.  In all seriousness, the nuances for when to conduct press conferences and thinking strategically was good information to hear.” — Jeremy
  • “Katie’s insight based on her experiences and practical advice was incredibly valuable – truly a subject matter expert. Great re-fresher on the relevancy of social media. Thank you!” — Lisa
  • “Though this webinar was aimed at working with an agency head to prepare them for interviews, the speaking points are applicable to and can be used by any department member called upon to provide media interviews.” — Peter
  • “As being the Chief, I tend to just go head first into things, this helped me realize that I should not do that.” — Brandy
  • “Great tips for PIO and organizational leaders. This information can also apply to command meetings. Thank you.” — Shannel
  • “Presenters were great! Very professional and extremely informative.” — James



Additional Resources
3 years ago
After the Webinar: Is Your Chief Ready for Media Interviews? Q&A with Katie Nelson
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