The significance of the event in capsule form and
its relevancy to the editors reading, listening or
The details of the event, including any attractive
features that would give it more appeal to the
editor (for instance, the arrival of a ship at its
home port following a seven-month overhaul).
The unique opportunities that will be afforded
to the news media, such as interviews and
The command point of contact who can answer
Oral release of information maybe made in person
or by telephone. When telephoning information to the
media, read the release from a prepared text.
Another oral method of releasing news occurs when
you reply to queries from media representatives. In this
situation, a query sheet should be used. The query
sheet should contain the following items of information:
Date and time
Name and organization of the caller
Telephone number of the caller
Source of information and coordination
Person handling the query (especially in a large
Use the query sheet to reply to all questions, but its
use is especially crucial when you make oral releases of
sensitive news, such as crimes, accidents or incidents. A
sample query sheet is shown in figure 4-2.
Interviews with the PAO by a reporter on subjects
that cannot be covered readily by fact sheets are
common. Unless a PAO has full information on a subject
or if the PAO is inexperienced, he should use extreme
caution in participating in such interviews since
normally any comments will be considered official
Interviews with subject matter experts or
newsworthy individuals are usually arranged by the
PAO at the request of a news person. Briefing inter-
viewees before the interview is highly recommended to
cover ground rules, the anticipated interview type or
technique and any media training required.
Reporters often feel the need to interview the CO
on newsworthy or important events or circumstances.
You and the PAO can enhance the outcome of the
interview if it is first discussed with the reporter and then
with the CO before it takes place.
Each time the PAO and a reporter meet, whether it
be at a news conference, briefing or interview, the
ground rules must be stated clearly, understood and
mutually agreed to by both parties before the interview
begins. These ground rules include the following:
on-the-record, off-the-record, background/not for
attribution and deep background.
ON-THE-RECORD. Remarks can be quoted
word for word and attributed directly to the person being
interviewed. The interviewee is identified by name and
title. Here is an example: Captain Alexander Gordian,
USN, Commanding Officer, USS Blue Blazer, said the
injured crewman was taken to Portsmouth Naval
Hospital and could not be identified until next of kin
were notified. To avoid embarrassment, the best rule of
thumb is to grant interviews using only this ground rule.
OFF-THE-RECORD. Information that is to be
held incomplete confidence. It is not to be printed under
any circumstances or in any form, nor is the information
to be the subject of conversation except among those
who were privileged to receive it. Off-the-record
information is used to give trusted reporters special
information they need to grasp the significance of
complicated news events. It is also used to orient
correspondents about important future events that will
require special handling by a thoroughly informed press.
It is an effective means of calming undue media alarm
over particular developments.
A word of caution: Off-the record statements
can be dangerous. Avoid them as much as possible
BACKGROUND/NOT FOR ATTRIBUTION.
Information that may be used by correspondents,
provided the remarks are not attributed to a specific
source, for example, a source identified by name or