AP 150 - Media Relations
Horizon SchoolDivision recognizes the valuable role our local media play in the communication process with our school community members. Our Division also has a responsibility to ensure that the privacy and rights of our students and staff are respected and that information that is being communicated to the media is accurate.
1. Information releases, which accurately communicate the Division’s business to the public, may only be issued by persons authorized by the Board as per Policy 5 – Role of the Board Chair.
2. The Director must approve all information released to the media from the Division Office.
3. The first point of contact for all media requests shall be through the Communications Officer.
4. The Principal, in consultation with the Director or designate, shall approve all information released to the media from schools.
5. Media representatives may be allowed in schools at the discretion of the Principal in consultation with the Director of Education, for legitimate reporting and promotional purposes.
6. Media representatives shall not be allowed to disrupt the normal operation of a school or a class for the sole purpose of information gathering. This includes the interviewing of Division staff members and/or students during regular class times.
7. The parents or guardians of any students involved in such reporting shall have read and given their permission according to AP-181 Permission for Use of Student Work & Information. A record of this shall be on file in the school office as identified in AF 300–Student Registration Form.
8. If an employee of the Division is approached by the media for comments or information regarding a Board decision, the employee shall explain to the member of the media that all interviews and communications must first be approved by the Director and direct the member of the media to call the Communications Officer for an appointment.
9. Media representatives may be asked by the Principal or Division staff to leave the premises or grounds where it is deemed to be in the best interests of students and/or staff.
10. In the event of emergency or crisis interactions, the Director or designate shall determine what information shall be provided to the media, and by whom.
Media Relation Guidelines
The public media can have a large influence on our lives. It can influence what we know, what we think, our opinions and our beliefs. The media can sell products and promote moments of pride and celebration. Along with the knowledge that media can bring the good, the exciting, the bad and the sad to the masses comes the need for understanding how to manage the media in our everyday lives. The term “media”, would include local radio and news outlets, but it also includes powerful social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other popular public forums.
Below is a list of 12 simple points that everyone should know about dealing with media of any form:
1. Always ensure that the media is forwarded to the appropriate spokesperson for any request. Forward any media requests to the Communications Officer to arrange for comments from the Director of Education.
2. It is very important to always remember that all media is public. This includes newspapers, radio, social media, websites, wiki’s, blogs and other forms of information sharing that are designed for public consumption.
3. There is no such thing as “Off the record”. Any comment or statement verbally spoken or shared in any form of media should always be considered to be public information.
4. What happens in the media stays in the media. Once a comment or entry has been made into any form of media, ownership has been established and it cannot be taken back.
5. Every media outlet has a purpose. Because a media outlet appears interested in your story, or is asking questions, it does not mean that they really care or will report in your best interest.
6. Sensationalism Sells. Media outlets know that sensational or controversial topics will create a buzz and generate attention in the public eye. These stories are exactly what some media outlets seek. Sensational stories increase awareness in the public which will in turn increase sales. (See #5)
7. If it is necessary to deal with the media it is important to present the facts, and only the facts. Speculation, personal opinions, views or feelings do not matter and should not be voiced as they may generate controversy which can lead to undesired attention or follow up questioning. (See #6)
8. Always try to be cooperative, but never feel that it is necessary to offer a response even if pressured. If necessary, it is okay to tell the media “I’m sorry I can’t answer that question right now, but I would be happy to get back to you” or “Thank you for your interest, but I do not feel it is my place to comment on the topic”.
9. Presenting false or misleading information to the media will come back to haunt the person making the statement, and it will damage credibility. Ensure that clear and accurate information is provided at all times. (See #7)
10. Public media is not an appropriate forum to engage in a dispute. No matter how invested you may be in a topic, becoming involved in a dispute in any public forum may involve personal opinions or views which will undoubtedly conflict with the views of others. These conflicting views may generate controversy which could lead to undesired attention. (See #6 and #7)
11. Silence can be golden. Most media stories have a very short life span. Although there may be a strong urge to speak up on a topic, doing so can often prolong the life of a story. This holds especially true where a defensive stance is desired or undesired attention has been attracted. Take a deep breath and see #10 & #12.
12. Think before you speak. Any comment made to the media will be scrutinized by not only the media outlet but also by the public who will eventually consume the information. Always pause and remember the 11 points listed above before offering any comments to the media or in any public forum. (See #1)
Reference: Sections 85, 87, 108, 109, 175, Education Act Policy 5 – Role of the Board Chair
Date April 16, 2013
Revised February23, 2015