An increasingly curious public is seeking more in-depth information about how foodanimals are cared for, raised and processed for food. Unfortunately consumers are obtaining much of their information from non-scientific media sources or activist organizations.

Surveys have shown, however, that veterinarians are a trusted source of information, and they have the opportunity to speak more with media sources and consumers about food-animal production.

Veterinarians are being asked to talk about issues such as welfare, pain management, housing, antibiotics, resistance, food safety and even “pink slime.” But like many folks, being on the interviewee end of a media interview can be daunting, especially when discussing sensitive and/or scientific topics.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has some excellent media tips for their members and other scientists who are often interviewed by the media and need to turn complex scientific topics into consumer-friendly information. These tips are great for beef and dairy veterinarians who either plan to conduct interviews, or find themselves being asked to be interviewed.

Reprinted with permission, what follows are some of the tips AAAS provides:

Keys to a good interview

• Talk in lay terms, using as little professional or technical jargon as possible. Tell stories and anecdotes that illustrate your point and give examples.

• Keep the answers short.

• Think about what you want to say before you speak. Define two to three main points you would like to make about your subject. Gather facts, figures, and anecdotes to support your points. Anticipate questions the reporter might ask and have responses ready.

• Speak in complete thoughts. The reporter’s question may be edited out and your response should stand on its own. This is especially important for television interviews.

• Never say anything you do not want to read in print, hear on the radio, or see on television or the internet.

• Be confident. You are the expert.

Preparing before the interview

• Prepare a single communication objective and two or three secondary points you want to make.

n Anticipate the reporter’s questions, especially the hard ones. What are your key messages? Answer difficult questions as briefly as possible, then bridge to your message.

• If you can provide the reporter with a written summary of information, main points or statistics, do so. Reporters always need perspective (i.e., How many people are affected? When did the issue arise? Is this part of a national trend?). Don’t hesitate to put the issue into perspective, even if the reporter doesn’t ask.

For more great interview tips from AAAS, visit http://communicatingscience.aaas.org/pdf/AAAS_Media_Tips.pdf