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Preparation is key for farmers when speaking to the media

The author of "When the Headline is YOU" says, when being interviewed by the media, don't be afraid to ask questions of the reporter.

22 March 2019, at 10:02a.m.

"When the Headline is YOU" will be among the topics discussed as part of the 2019 London Swine Conference taking place 26 and 27 March.

Speaking to Farmscape.Ca, Jeff Ansell, a Communications Consultant with Jeff Ansell and Associate and author of the aforementioned title, says the consequences of going unprepared into a media interview can be dire so when preparing, it's important to find out what the reporter will be looking for.

Jeff explains: "Those questions could be about the purpose of the interview, if there are any particular aspects of the story that the reporter is interested in. I think you also want to ask, will anyone else be interviewed in the story? That gives you an idea of the scope of it.

"In the event that the reporter is hesitant to tell you who else is being interviewed, that might trigger an alarm bell.

"You also want to know, if it [the interview] is for TV or radio; is it going to be a live interview; is it going to be one that's recorded; how long the interview be; will the reporter be taking sound bites from it; will the reporter be running the entire interview?

"If it's for print they might want to know, if it's crisis related it'll probably in the news section, but just to confirm what part of the paper the story is likely to be reported in.

"Pork producers spend years building up a reputation. All it takes is a few misspoken words to destroy it so it's very important that pork producers and others in the sector have the ability to tell their story in manner that is conducive to the media edit because at the end of the day any of us are only as good as our weakest quote."

Ansell says, when talking to a reporter who's asking pointed questions, it's easy to become defensive so the key is to focus on values and keep in mind how you want your sector to be perceived.