Intro (Part 1) | Part 2 | Part3 | Part4 | Part5 (Last)

Based on how much the media loves us Muslims, there is no telling when you might get the next call to answer “a few questions”. Many times, media professionals rely on people whose message they want to sell. So, if the media wants to sell the progressive message or the radical message (for some reason, they do seem to forget the 99% in the middle, don't they??), they will have particular people in mind. And then quite often, they will look for a corroborating or contradicting opinion from the local imam or President of the local Islamic mosque or society. Here is where the problem ensues!

Unfortunately, many of our Muslim leaders are not trained in interacting or dealing with the media. So, sometimes, quite inadvertently, these leaders will say things that come off as either completely ignorant or completely negative. Obviously the leaders didn't mean to look like fools, but once the sound-byte is out, it is usually too late to control the damage. So, I hope that our communities will realize the need for media training for all our leaders (Imams, Presidents, etc.) and even consider the urgent need for professional PR persons (especially for the larger organizations). It is definitely worth a few bucks, especially because good sound-bytes can also be a form of good da'wah!

Until that happens, and I am not holding my breath, I thought it would be good to share few media tips with our readers. I have always hoped that my dive back into school (business school in my case) didn't emanate from a symptom of mid-life crises, but rather would be of benefit to both my career and to my brothers and sisters in Islam. So, I bring these tips to you straight from the experts (based on videos by Amy Sharp- a media professional).

Introduction

First of all, you should know that interacting with the media is an extremely useful skill, which like all other skills takes time to learn, practice and hone. There is always a good chance that one time or another, you will have the opportunity (or be forced) to speak with the media. You may be speaking on behalf of yourself, your company, or as a Muslim, your religion.

Many people feel that reporters are out to get you. And I cannot blame Muslims for feeling that, because I do believe that FOX, for example, is in fact out to get us! But other than FOX Noise, most other media outlets (although they may still not be completely fair and balanced), are really not out to get you. Rather, they are out to get a good story! Sensationalist stories make for good stories, so Muslims do need to remain alert and understand how to deal with reporters, especially the ones who can get over-zealous (and you will learn through these tips about the importance of research in order to isolate these over-zealous reporters).

What is presented here is of course the most basic of skills in interacting with media. These skills will not be good enough to be gainfully employed as a public-relations officer, but they will help you formulate a plan of action if you do get picked for the prized opportunity to deal with a reporter! These basic skills will also help you avoid misrepresenting whatever topic you are being asked about. For Muslims, it is especially important not to misrepresent Islam, because in a way our religion is a trust from Allah, which is not something to be taken lightly.

In this series of three posts, you will learn how to control your first interactions with the reporter, how to not say something you don't mean to say, how to craft your message, how to take control of the interview, and last but certainly not the least, how to appear confident.

Next Topics:

  • First Interactions with the Reporter
  • Crafting the Right Message
  • Taking Control
  • Appearing Confident

18 Responses

  1. Amad

    I would request brothers and sisters to print and email this information out, esp. to their local leaders and imams.

    If a downloadable document would help, I can add that too.

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  2. Yusuf Khan

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Jazak Allahu Khair. It’s high time something like this came out to give people some tips on what NOT to say!

    Something still tells me our “fair and objective” media will still manage to filter out the sensible people and air the guys who yell the loudest.

    But nevertheless go on with your post, may Allah reward you.

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  3. naeem

    I’m anxious to read the rest, back here, many of our elders & ulema, they are extremely knowledgeable and lead exceptional lives. However, many (not all) lack the tack to deal with non muslim media –

    Lots of journo’s look to quote out of context or ask questions which will raise a provocation.

    Once the series is complete, i’ll link it to my site. I’m sure many will benefit from it.

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  4. Musa Maguire

    Jazak Allah Khairan. This is an important topic. Media is woefully misunderstood by many Muslims. Many people in the media are ethical and committed to professional standards that would permit us to represent ourselves well, if we are indeed capable of doing so. Some media professionals have an anti-Muslim agenda, but others favor a conciliatory approach even when they don’t agree with us. We need to start seeing the media as a complex assemblage of institutions, individuals, and ideologies, rather than a monolithic anti-Islamic force.

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  5. Amad

    Naeem, that is the spirit of this topic, thx!

    If it can make a difference in one interview, I will consider this successful.

    Also note that this info is being taught at one of the top business schools in the world, and stating it like that may be enough to sell it to some of our more relunctant uncles :)

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  6. Amad

    Esp. the uncles whose daughters can marry only doctors (I think the girls stop functioning with an other profession).Perhaps engineers if they r over 25 yrs, and any muslim with a heartbeat over 35. :)

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  7. AnonyMouse

    Am looking forward to this series… I once entertained the thought of being a journalist, but changed my mind and my goals to focus on other things. But hey, y’never know… I may yet take a course or two in Journalism – it might just come in handy at some point!

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  8. Moiez

    Yah that’s a pretty good Idea, I had to speak on behalf of Ramadan on the local channel at my university and believe me its harder than it looks, stage fright makes a guy sweat! But alhamdulillah I got the message across to the listeners and the reporter.

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  9. AlBaraa

    Once this series is complete, it would be a good idea to make a video for this (I guess that would be me).

    One thing also (I don’t think it was mentioned), was that media are a set of corporations, who have one goal…which is to increase profits. Obviously they will pick that which will be most attention getting (although its not proper journalism).

    I think it serves us 90% middle people to do things that are news worthy. Things that are outrageous, news worthy, and makes the middle 90% look good.

    Some example are like the NYC taxi driver that returns the diamonds that someone left in the car, or how some bros and sis that re doctors in Los Angeles upened up the Ummah Clinic…

    ..More stories like this on a regular basis will prompt for more positive media coverage. Also, it does help to have a trained PR person on staff to sell the stories to the media.

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  10. Ardit Kraja

    This is a very demaded topic for our students of knowledge. So i this we should have rather a book than just some articles. I hope that this topic that you are discussing will one day be in a more extended way to clarify everything (concerning media) and in a clarifyed way.

    ma salama

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