Despite the prevalence of social media in people’s lives, many still turn to mainstream news media for information about risks and threats.

Because of this, risk and crisis communicators need to build strategies to facilitate their interaction with mainstream news media.

The following tips can help you successfully interact with news media.

Build relationships.

When a crisis strikes, it may be too late to try to build relationships with the media. So cultivate these relationships before a crisis.

You can help yourself even more by fostering trusting relationships with specific editors and journalists.

Be accessible.

Respect journalists’ deadlines and provide them with frequent updates.

Manage your contacts.

Maintain up-to-date contact lists for media outlets and for specific editors, producers and journalists.

Focus your messages.

Remember that your idea of what is newsworthy may not coincide with the ideas of the media. Your focus should be more on the factors that influence perceived risk than on technical information.


With experience, you should be able to anticipate questions so that you can address your answers to the needs of specific journalists or types of media.


Preparation, as in all things, pays big dividends. When dealing with the media, you are well advised to have clear background material at the ready. This may include fact sheets, maps, graphics, and frequently asked questions.

Follow up.

Your job isn’t done once a story has been distributed. Address praise or criticism, as warranted, to your media contacts.

Pathway Prompt: What other lessons have you learned while dealing with mainstream news media?

Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide

More information about risk, high-concern, and crisis communication can be found in Dr. Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication.

This master class introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.

The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice. More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing

Dr. Vincent Covello

Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books.


Covello, V. T. (2021, in press). Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice.