Gun Community Rules for Media Contact (proposed)
This comes from a few negative experiences we’ve had here and in the local Southern Nevada gun community. We’ve seen too many guns business think any publicity is good publicity and try to be friendly with reporters. Some have mistrusted reporters and others have been misquoted by reporters, only to retract their statements and claim they were ‘used’ later on under tremendous public outcry.
It’s up to you if you want to speak with the media, we really don’t. Journalistic integrity and investigative qualities really seem to be lacking in today’s print and especially TV media. I don’t believe that we can get a fair shake from most mainstream media organizations for a variety of reasons, from institutional bias, personal dislike of guns, or the simple fact that local TV news is about selling advertising.
Agreeing to an interview is your decision, but keep all of the following in mind and remember to use the media exposure to your advantage.
- Always tell the truth. If you don’t know, admit you don’t have the answer.
- Ego is no reason for doing an interview.
- Media requests should be vetted. Who is the journalist? What are their credentials? Who do they work for? Do they have a history of biased pieces?
- Consider the market of the media outlet. A liberal, progressive audience will use your words as fodder for their cause. Don't give them material to use against your cause. Don't give them visuals that fit with their narrative, i.e. anti-gun owner stereotypes.
- How does the media request work for you? Will an interview generate interest in the area of topic, driving viewers/readers to seek more information? Or is the reporter just using you to unwittingly help push an anti-gun agenda?
- Know your beliefs and your materials. If you don't know what you are talking about, haven't researched the topic thoroughly, or haven't read up in a while, either prepare or be quiet. The public will see you as an expect so you better be spot on.
- Dress, act, and look like you are going to be on TV. Present your best image possible because anything that can be exploited against us will be.
- Do not participate in a pre-taped interview that can be edited later on. If this MUST be done, the entire encounter from start to finish must also be counter-recorded.
- Don’t say or write anything embarrassing or agree to go on camera if doing so would jeopardize your reputation, your employment, or your business. Don’t say anything that you are not comfortable seeing published, on TV, or on the Internet forever.
- Remember that even if shown in full, a video will most likely be edited for the teaser/hook-sound bite. This 2-4 second spot can be played many times before the actual scheduled interview, setting the station’s desired tone to the subject.
- Never say anything that taken out of context will sound bad. No one hears the "but" that follows a "yes" answer.
- Don’t just respond to their questions; use them to your advantage in getting your point across. You don’t have to answer their questions directly. Tell them what you want them to hear. Make your point known in spite of how they may have phrased their questions.
- Leave responses that are short and on point. Don’t ramble and leave lots of juicy quotes for them to exploit. Get to the point and make your answers simple and hard hitting so it resounds with the average viewer/reader.
- Do not react to silly questions emotionally with sounds, facial reactions, or smart remarks. Keep going back to your same points. Talk on point and they can’t use extraneous comments to their advantage.
- Be ready to politely educate the reporter on the basics. Many reporters don’t know anything about the topic they are reporting on. Tell them why it matters.
- Use personal stories to make a connection. Reporters try to make a personal connection with their viewers, so tell them why they and society at large should care. Personal stories of how guns affected you will resonate powerfully.
- Pay close attention their questions. Be wary of multi-part questions, badgering, hostility or loaded words, or negatively phrased questions intended to bait you into slipping up. If they are silent and you're done talking, be quiet and don't let them draw you into babbling or getting upset.
- Don't let a tough question rattle you. Stick to your guns and deliver your message. Keep integrating your message in with your answers to their questions. Correct any misinformation in their questions and don't be afraid to re-phrase a question. If you refuse to answer an unfair question tell them so and make your point that is germane to their question.
- Don’t be surprised by misquotes, deceptive editing, or a hit piece. Some reporters have no scruples and merely want to promote their agenda or what they think people should be. Far too many reporters are trying to spin a narrative, not report the truth. Do everything you can to make sure they tell your narrative.
- When responding to a biased news piece think outside the box. Bombarding the reporter with angry emails or phone calls isn't effective. Rolling in the mud with a pig is pointless; you get dirty and the pig likes it. Make a parody video; it mocks their work and gets people to laugh at the absurdity of the bad segment while learning about your side.