Media guidelines for volunteers
Reporters often call our Oregon or Washington offices and ask to interview a volunteer. If you’re contacted by the Communications department to respond to a media interview, we’ll offer you some facts and key messages (see Key Messages below) to prepare for the reporter’s questions.
While we do our best to manage these requests in cooperation with our volunteers, sometimes reporters will find you first, without our knowledge. If you get a call from a reporter (rather than a request through Medical Teams International), please ask if they’ve been in contact with the Communications department. If the reporter has not spoken with us, please have him or her call Angela Pratt at 503.341.1022. Angela will then follow up with you as in the situation above.
In preparation for an interview, here are suggested guidelines to help you when you’re approached by the media about your work with Medical Teams International:
- Please don’t think you ever “have” to talk to the media. We only want you to do an interview if you feel comfortable doing so.
- Please wear Medical Teams International logo apparel when conducting any on-camera interviews.
- Please steer away from making any political statements in regards to your volunteer work with Medical Teams International. Many of our volunteers answer politically-charged questions with the following response, “I’m going to Country X because there are families just like mine there who are desperate for the kind of help I can give—my purpose is to help save lives in Country X.” This response helps re-focus the interview on Medical Teams International and our work in the country rather than on political issues.
- Be prepared to tell your story. You will probably be asked questions such as:
- Why are you volunteering for this trip?
- What do you expect to do there?
- What kind of conditions will you be working in?
- Are you afraid to go? Do you fear for your safety?
- How have you prepared for this trip?
- How many times have you volunteered with Medical Teams International?
- Tell me about your other trips with this organization.
- What’s your background?
If possible, avoid the phrase, “No comment.” Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” to a question. (For example, if you’re responding to an earthquake disaster, reporters may ask you how many people are hurt, how much money Medical Teams International is committing to the disaster, etc. If the reporter is insistent on getting a response to the question, you can suggest that he/she talks with our Communications staff as soon as the interview is over.)
If you have any questions about these suggestions or about how to speak with the media, we are more than happy to speak with you about them. Please contact Angela Pratt at 503.341.1022.
Sharing your Story
Medical Teams International encourages volunteers to share their stories with newspapers, magazines and any other publications. However, we do ASK all volunteers to submit their stories to us for review before publication. Please send all stories to Chiqui Flowers at email@example.com or call her at 503.624.1035 if you have any questions.