Media Training and Public Relations

Got a Media Request? How the COFA Communications Office Can Help

As the College of Fine Arts evolves and strives to maintain a reputation of excellence and relevance in the higher education sphere, the communications office should play a key role in this evolution. By using the University's communication tools and resources, the communications office can support the positioning and key messages of the college to reach target audiences.

If you get a media request, the communications office can help you prepare and make the most of your interview time to make sure your key messages are communicated. Below we share some best practices for responding to and fulfilling media requests.

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Contact the Office of University Communications representatives. They can help you:
    • Anticipate reporter questions.
    • Offer insight to reporters’ styles and backgrounds.
    • Research reporters’ previous stories.
    • Help you prepare answers and practice saying them.
  • Write out your key message
    • If you or the article can make one point, what should it be?
  • Prepare answers for the toughest questions they could ask
  • Keep it simple
  • Frame the discussion, don’t get framed
  • Make it interesting: analogies, strong words, everyday examples
  • Put it in perspective: Why does this matter?
  • Practice

The Office of University Communications public relations team can provide training for faculty and administrators who would like to develop skills and gain exposure interacting with the media. Media training will be offered on a rolling basis.

For more information, contact

Conducting the Interview

  • Return calls or emails to reporters, even if you cannot talk to them
  • Find out who you’re talking to. What’s the format? Audience?
  • Ask upfront about their deadline, but you can then schedule a time to talk so you can prepare, if needed within that window.
  • Control the conversation: You are the expert
    • Use bridging – “Let me answer you by saying that…”
  • Answer first, explain second
  • Be brief
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Use “flags” to underscore important statements – “The bottom line is…”
  • Be passionate. Be yourself
  • Never guess: Offer to get back with numbers or facts if you are unsure
    • If the reporter asks for documents and you are unsure if you should provide them, please refer the reporter to your communications office contact.
  • Avoid jargon or technical terms
  • Don’t lose your temper or engage in an argument
  • Don’t speak “off the record,” and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to see in print
  • Correct inaccurate statements if the reporter makes them.
  • Ask if the reporter needs clarification on anything
  • Offer to review their text, but expect them to say no thanks
  • Speak, don’t read, your talking points
  • Talk directly to the reporter
  • No matter the question, always start by making your most important point
  • Be brief
  • For on-camera interviews, wear dark colors or solids. Avoid white and patterns.

For Crises

  • Talk to your communications office representative immediately

Public Relations

The Office of University Communications team consists of dedicated public relations professionals who collaborate with the University’s 14 schools and colleges, centers and institutions and various departments to share newsworthy events, new and innovative research, impactful initiatives, and the perspectives of our esteemed faculty experts and student researchers.

The experienced public relations team acts as a liaison between the media and Howard University spokespeople and are constantly working to amplify the voices of Howard faculty, students, and administration on a wide range of social, political, historical, cultural and scientific issues.

The public relations team assists University partners by:

  • Drafting and publishing press releases to the Howard University Newsroom.
  • Providing strategic and integrated communications plans.
  • Managing media inquiries, pitching and securing interview opportunities.
  • Approving and coordinating requests for filming on Howard’s campus.
  • Providing media training for Howard faculty.

Film Requests

The Office of University Communications is responsible for receiving and approving all requests to film on Howard University’s campus. The public relations team issues applications for filming and photography requests and coordinates with approved film crews to successfully execute projects. Any film crew that comes to Howard University’s campus without the proper OUC approvals will be asked to leave campus until the proper approvals are in place.

Film requests require a six-week lead time and may include execution of a location agreement or other licensing agreement. Please contact to request a filming and photography application for your next project.

COVID-19 protocols for filming on Howard’s campus:

  • For approved filming/photography requests, each individual visiting campus must download the Bison SAFE app and complete the self-assessment tool on the day of the shoot using the "Vendor or Contractor" option.
  • Contractors and vendors who will be on campus for more than four hours in any given week must be fully vaccinated.
  • Contractors and vendors who will be on campus for less than four hours in any given week, must have a negative COVID test within a 72-hour window of coming to campus.