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Working with the Media: Suggestions for County Offices

Working with the Media Before, During and After a Crisis: Suggestions for County Offices

Before the winter of each year:

  1. Identify the spokespersons in your office and their areas of expertise. Make sure to identify alternates just in case a spokesperson cannot be reached. Set up back-up arrangements in the event you cannot reach the spokespersons or if the office is not open.
  2. Identify a main contact person for your office. Designate more than one, in case one can’t come to the office.
  3. Keep media lists up to date, using your own updated media list. Update and revise the list as needed.
  4. Call each media entity before winter weather begins. Explain to media staff what emergency-related educational resources the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has available for the community. Try to find out what their procedure is during an emergency, and make some notes.

During an emergency:

  1. Double check with your designated spokesperson(s) to ensure that media can contact them and that they are available. If they are not available, contact the alternate sources to ensure they can be contacted.
  2. Contact each media entity in your area. Let staff know what resources your county office has available. Give them contact information of the designated spokespersons and their areas of expertise in your office. Be brief and to the point, so they don’t feel you are wasting their time.
  3. If you can’t reach anyone, hand-deliver the information to them, along with the appropriate information/fact sheets.
  4. Try to keep the office phone covered. If that is not possible, make sure the media have an alternate number to contact the person(s) responsible for the phone.
  5. Have each topic spokesperson and general contact person keep a media log. Note which media they speak to, names of reporters or contacts, what topics were discussed and what coverage resulted.
  6. Encourage county spokespersons to keep the contact person informed of where they can be contacted at all times.

After an emergency:

  1. Follow up with media. If an outlet used your information, thank them and ask them if there is any other information that might be helpful to their readers/viewers.
  2. As a staff, discuss the effectiveness of your media connections. Make some notes on what could be improved next time. Consider how you might use newly formed media connections in other ways to promote University of Maine Cooperative Extension programs.
  3. Relay any lessons learned or suggestions to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Director.


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