1. Know who is calling and why. Get the reporter’s name and media outlet. Find out why he’s calling.
2. It’s OK to buy some time. Confirm reporter’s deadline and return the call well before it, to give you some time to gather your thoughts. Don’t wing it.
3. Know the audience. Your language will be different if you’re talking to a farm audience vs. a general audience (and the reporter is not the audience).
4. Stay on point. Have one message and think of different ways to reinforce it in every response.
5. Respect the reporter. Never talk down or become argumentative. If a reporter is misinformed or cites incorrect facts, politely correct him. Understand they may come from a different perspective.
6. Avoid “no comment.” It looks like you have something to hide. If you can’t answer, explain why.
7. If you don’t know an answer to a question, say so and get back to them with the information.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask your own questions.