Surviving the Spotlight: A guide to dealing with the media

Should I get my story in the media?

Whether you should get your story in the media depends on your specific goals and circumstances. Sudden cardiac arrest is not always well represented in the media, so if you want to raise awareness or have a particular aspect you want publicising, getting your story in the media can be a great way to reach a large audience. However, it’s important to be prepared for the public scrutiny and attention that can come with being in the media. You should also consider the potential impact on your privacy and personal life. If you’re unsure, it may be helpful to consult a media professional to determine whether getting your story in the media is the right choice.


There are some obvious benefits:

  • This a great opportunity to raise public awareness about cardiac arrests and the importance of bystander CPR and AEDs in the community
  • Alert those affected by a cardiac arrest to our group
  • It can help you feel that you are giving back in some way which can be a part of the recovery journey

What to say?

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Be clear about what you want to say, and think about the questions they will ask and the answers you want to give them. You should remember that you do not have to answer any questions, but they could use any information you give them. If you do not want it reported, do not say it! Try to feed the journalist the facts in a way that dictates the angle of the interview.

Expect a journalist’s specialist knowledge to be limited. They are not employed to know the facts but to know how to find them.  A lot of the public and, unfortunately, the media conflate a cardiac arrest with a heart attack, and it doesn’t seem to matter how often you tell them they will still get it wrong.  Point them at our “heart attack or cardiac arrest?” page, which explains the difference as this may help.

Most journalists are looking for clear, simple quotes that a wide audience can understand, so try and give them that.

Ask for a final copy of the article before it goes to print. Despite the best intentions, journalists can easily get facts and figures incorrect.

Mention this website and the Facebook support group when you can.

Make sure you spell your name out in full and repeat if necessary.


As well as the positives your story may generate, it’s worth considering the potential negative aspects.

Whilst most stories are seen in the light they were intended for, you should be prepared for inaccurate, inane, rude, offensive comments on your story. Some people seemingly have nothing better to do than troll and make attention-seeking remarks.

Some agencies may be interested in acquiring the rights to your story for republishing in their network but be aware that you may lose control of your story and not receive any reward.


Here are some guidelines for you to follow when dealing with the media, including radio, TV, print and online:

  1. Be Prepared: Before you speak to a journalist, make sure you have your facts straight and know what you want to say. This will help you come across as confident and knowledgeable.
  2. Be Honest: If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s better to admit that you don’t know rather than make something up. The media will appreciate your honesty and help you build trust with them.
  3. Stay on Message: If you have a specific message you want to get across, stick to it during the interview. Don’t get sidetracked or go off on tangents, as this can confuse the audience.
  4. Watch Your Language: Avoid using technical or complex language that people may not understand. Speak clearly and simply so that everyone can follow and understand what you’re saying.
  5. Be Respectful: Treat the journalist and their team respectfully, even if you disagree with their approach or angle. This will help you maintain a positive relationship with them, and they’re more likely to cover you again in the future.
  6. Be Careful on Social Media: Be mindful of what you post on social media, as journalists and the public can easily see it. Avoid posting anything that could be seen as inflammatory or inappropriate.
  7. Check Your Sources: Ensure you check your sources before sharing any information with the media. This will help you avoid spreading false or misleading information.
  8. Take Your Time: If you’re being interviewed live on the radio or TV, don’t feel pressured to answer immediately. It’s okay to take a moment to think about your answer and make sure you’re communicating clearly.

The ABCs of answering

The “ABC” method of answering a question is used to communicate information effectively in a clear and concise manner, especially during media interviews. The ABC method stands for:

  • A – Answer the question directly and succinctly
  • B – Bridge to your message or main point
  • C – Close with a memorable sound bite or statement that reinforces your message.

For example, if a journalist asks you about you were saved, you could use the ABC formula like this:

A – “Yes, I was saved from cardiac arrest thanks to the quick thinking and actions of those around me who performed CPR.”

B – “I believe that CPR is a critical life-saving skill, and it’s important for everyone to know how to perform it in an emergency situation.”

C – “Thanks to CPR, I was given a second chance at life, and I am now dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of CPR training and how it can save lives.”

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