Media Training Tips

At Northwestern Law, we encourage faculty to speak to reporters and the media about issues and cases that fall within your expertise. Giving interviews to the media is a great way to get publicity for your work, expose your thought leadership to a wider audience, establish yourself as a subject matter expert, and help build the reputation and visibility of the Law School. 

The following tip sheet is intended to give you an understanding of what reporters are looking for, equip you to best deal with their requests, and help you prepare for interviews with the media. The Marketing and Communications team is always available to help with specific questions or requests. Contact us at

When you Get a Request from a Reporter

Respond promptly. We hope that you will accept interview requests, but even if you cannot – because you are unavailable or because you don’t think you are the correct expert for the topic – please respond to the reporter in a timely manner. Reporters often work on tight deadlines and simply not responding could discourage them from reaching out to our faculty in the future. You can always respond by asking them when their deadline is and schedule an interview after you’ve had some time to prepare. If you don’t think you are the appropriate expert for a story, please suggest another member of the Northwestern Law faculty who you think is better suited. Or you can always refer reporters to the Marketing and Communications team.

It’s okay to ask questions. If you want some more context for what the reporter is writing, it’s fine to ask for the angle of the story; if you want to understand better what they are looking for before you commit to an interview, that’s okay, too. Please do also ask when they anticipate the story will run, and let the Marketing and Communications team know to look out for it.

Remember that while you may not be an expert on a particular case, you may be equipped to give valuable context. No one expects you to take two hours of your day to get up to speed on the particulars of a case that you may not be involved in. Just as valuable to reporters is an expert who can explain why a particular case should be of interest to the general public and the implications that a case and its outcome might have, or who can simply provide helpful background. Phrases like “The bigger issue here…” or “One thing it’s important to understand…” can be effective in taking an interview from specifics of a case to your broader expertise. Why this matters is likely the most valuable information you can offer a reporter.

During an Interview

Be concise. Reporters only have a certain amount of words for a print story or a certain amount of time for a TV or radio piece, which means long quotes often get cut down. Minimize the chances that your quotes will be whittled down or taken out of context by getting to the point quickly, making your point clearly, and stop talking when you are done. It isn’t your job to fill the silence.

Be prepared. It can be helpful to have notes about any points you want to make, in case the conversation veers off-subject.

Know that the reporter isn’t an expert. Hopefully the reporter you are talking to has a working knowledge of the topic at hand, but they may not, and they almost certainly will not be legal scholars or subject matter experts. Be patient, and remember that you may need to break something down simply for the reporter – and in turn the readers/listeners. In the interest of accuracy, it’s ok to confirm that what you’ve said makes sense to the reporter and that you’ve made yourself clear.

Don’t go off the record. Don’t say anything in an interview that you wouldn’t want to appear in print.   

After an Interview

You probably will not be able to review or approve your quotes. If a reporter is working on an in-depth feature story they (or another member of the outlet’s staff) may reach out to check that they got the facts right, but if you are talking to a reporter for a time-sensitive piece, you likely will not have any approval or review. (You can always ask, though!)

Let the Marketing and Communications team know. We will keep an eye out for the piece and try to promote it on various Law School platforms.

When to Avoid Talking to the Media 

If you are asked to comment about Northwestern Law, Northwestern University or a member of the faculty in a way that might be controversial, think twice. If you have any questions about whether giving a certain interview is appropriate, feel free to reach out to the Marketing and Communications team.