Last week I was riveted to the news for a while after the shooting at Deer Creek Middle School in Colorado, right down the street from Columbine.
The news, while horrifying, had several bright spots, including the fact that only two people were shot and no one was killed. Another one was a story of teacher David Benke, hailed as a hero for tackling the gunman and probably preventing far worse consequences.
While you probably read the stories and thought about what you would do if something like that happened in your own school, what you might not have thought about is what you would do if you found yourself in the middle of a big news story.
If you are involved in a big news story, the press will call you. If you are involved in a story with national interest, the national press will call - and they will keep calling. You will get so many calls you will not be able to answer all of them and your voicemail box will fill up. Then the press will track you down on Facebook, at your work email address, and if the story is big enough and you are important enough to it, they will track you down at your house. They will want you to tell your story, to comment on the event, to say something interesting.
And you will be totally unprepared, unless you take the time to prepare. So here are my best tips for dealing with the press:
1. Take a moment and decide whether you want to talk. You are not obligated to talk to the press.
2. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to field the phone calls and relay your message - either that don't want to comment or that you will comment and what your rules are.
3. If you do want to talk, remember that it is up to you who you talk to and how you do it. You can do live, pre-recorded, phone only, or stick to print media. You can also release one statement to all the media outlets at once. It is up to you. Just because you talk to one, does not mean you have to talk to everyone.
4. Before you open your mouth, decide what you want to say. If you are not clear on what you want to say before you start, you risk saying something you didn't mean to say, or worse, saying something that is misunderstood.