engaging with media

Around the report

We have consulted with our PR specialists, Greenhouse, and have put together support for those of you wishing to engage with the media during your campaigning.

Ahead of the interview

Greenhouse Communications will be pitching Surfers Against Sewage’s Water Quality Report to media between Wednesday 15 November and Tuesday 21 November.

Media sometimes have SAS Rep details on file and will contact you directly for an interview after they receive the pitch note from Greenhouse. We want to make sure you are fully supported should media reach out to you.

If you are contacted for a media interview, please get in touch as soon as possible with Greenhouse Communications ([email protected]) and Surfers Against Sewage ([email protected]) for a tailored interview briefing and further support.

What to expect

The opportunity
  • You have a unique story to tell and journalists will be looking for unique perspectives.
  • By communicating effectively, you can capture your audience’s attention and cut through the noise.
  • Having a clear message and a call to action means you can stand out and offer something new.
Interview types

Print media

  • News agencies, newspapers, trade media.
  • Questions may be answered through an in-person interview, but can also be over email, phone call or video interview.
  • The interview may be published in full or a quote included in a wider article.
  • The journalist may ask to record the interview.

Broadcast media

  • Radio or television.
  • Usually only lasts a few minutes.
  • Can be live or pre-recorded.
  • May be conducted with an in-person interviewer or through an earpiece.
  • TV broadcast journalists like to conduct interviews in person.
  • Media outlet may request an interesting setting to film additional footage.


Sharing your story

What are journalists looking for?

  • Colour: Visualising the first-person impacts. Explain the impact of sewage pollution on the public.
  • Quantify it: Relevant statistics can be powerful.
  • Personality: Tell us a real-life story or anecdote. How has sewage pollution affected you?
  • Human emotion: How does sewage pollution make you feel?
  • Solutions as well as impacts.
  • Use as little ‘jargon’ or complicated language as possible.
Answering difficult questions: the bridging technique

The bridging technique is a way of tackling difficult questions that allows you to acknowledge what your interviewer is asking whilst moving into more familiar territory and communicating your key message along the way. Remember to never say ‘no comment’ and always call out anything you know to be untrue.

Bridging technique example:

Question: Aren’t water companies already doing enough to stop sewage pollution?

Answer: I’m aware some have that view (acknowledge) but if you look at the facts outlined in the Water Quality Report (bridge) they highlight a severe lack of monitoring in Scotland (communicate) How do we know water companies are doing enough when we can’t even quantify the scale of the problem?

Example interview

See amazing interview skills in practice from Surfers Against Sewage’s Izzy Ross, speaking on BBC Breakfast earlier this year.

Access the interview here.

Example questions

• Why are you campaigning to protect your local river/beach?

• What is the purpose of the Water Quality Report?

• What is happening in your community/area when it comes to sewage pollution?

• What role can the public play to voice their concern on these issues?

• What change are you fighting for? (Your call to action)

• Why is it important to you to stop sewage pollution?

• Have you become ill from bathing? Tell us about your experience.

Tips for media interviews

• Stay calm and polite.

• Speak slowly – you might be tempted to go too fast, so slow it down and take lots of pauses.

• Use single, clear sentences to make your point.

• Use examples and personal experiences and insights.

• It’s always good to have one or two stats in your back pocket that you can use to back up your points.

• Stop talking when you’ve made your point. Don’t keep going, even if the reporter leaves a gap – it’s their job to fill it!

• Project positive body language – sit up straight and make eye contact with the interviewer (as far as you can on Zoom!)

Josh’s top tips for a good interview

We asked the Head of Communications at SAS to tell us what five things we should remember when going into an interview:

  • Give your own view using your own experiences. You can’t be wrong if you start with “I”.
  • Speak with passion and use emphasis in your sentences. People connect with and listen to people who really care about things and who don’t just sound like robots (politicians, we’re looking at you).
  • Use simple language (no acronyms!).
  • Slow. Down. Most people start speaking more quickly when they’re nervous so speak more slowly than feels normal (which will then be more like your normal speed). Slower talking also gives your brain time to catch up with your mouth.
  • Make sure you answer, or at least acknowledge, the question you’ve been asked. But then bridge to your key message.
  • It may be nerve-wracking but don’t worry, you’re fighting the bad guys! And no one is going to mind, or notice, if you stumble over a word or say ummmmm. So enjoy it, you’re on TV/the radio (delete as appropriate)!