Speaking to the Media
Hints and Tips For Members Approached by a Radio/Press/TV Reporter
Our events & websites attract publicity and we are often approached for interviews and comments. Most of these people are well meaning but on occasions they may be looking to show the society in a bad light. Good or bad, they will print - here is a guide to trying to keep things positive and comfortable for you and the Society. If you are about to attend a high profile event, it may be an idea to download and printout a copy of this guide from here, and have it available for reference should you be approached by the Press.
Action Warrior Solutions is the media arm of the society and if possible all inquiries in the first instance should be referred through them. They will support you, not try to take the opportunity of ‘fame’ from you.
Head of Media Relations: Chris Abrams - firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +441234 721005 Head of PR: Gail Bowden - email@example.com Tel: 07796 414762
At an event it may not be possible to contact one of us – so think “Am I best person to give this comment/interview or should I refer it to my Jarl/Sturaesman?”
For those that do give comments we would recommend:
- Ask what the interview/report is for and what context it will used & when it will appear.
- Having a folder which contains for example the history of the society or your group and a list of positive things they have done in the recent past.
- To be effective, choose the point or phrase that you most want to get across and put the following in front of it -- "Well, the most important thing is . . ." ( the children learning about history in a fun interactive way)
- There is no shame in saying honestly "I don't know."
- If there is a very difficult question you SHOULD ask to think about it for a minute.
- Press the positive side of what we do they will often want to concentrate on the negative: “How many injuries do you get and how serious?” Try: “Like any contact sport there can be injuries – mostly bruises – however all of our warriors train regularly, have to pass safety tests to take the field, we carry out full risk assessments and every group has its own first aider” or similar.
- Utilise one consistent spokesperson if possible – but having a friend standing to one side for reference and support is a good idea.
- Never talk ‘off the record’ especially without knowing the reporter personally. Don't say anything you don't want to see on the air or in print.
- Never say anything without imagining several of the longest-serving members are there testing your knowledge. (This is a handy reminder of what you know rather than what you have heard).
- If you find yourself wanting to explain someone else’s expertise – why not involve the expert?
- Do not ask to see the story before it goes to press -- the reporter won't let the source see it or control the story. However, before the reporters leave, do say "Let's review my quotes to make sure they're correct." This will give you a clue as to what the reporter selected and the angle the reporter has chosen (good, bad, or indifferent).
- NEVER let ANYONE take a photo you don't like. Children must only be included in photos with the parents’ consent.
- The Vikings work hard to avoid photos of people in kit eating ice creams, using mobile phones, and cameras etc., Please do not give anyone the chance to ridicule us.
- The press love that kind of photo, but can usually be appeased by something dramatic and in character instead.
- Please look out for the public too. Mobile phones, video cameras ... it is easiest to stay strictly in period when in kit.
History & Society Information
- Founded in 1971, The Vikings are the oldest and largest Dark Age re-enactment society in the UK, and probably the world.
- With over 1,500 members throughout the UK, and others in Europe, Canada, and the US, The Vikings are the premier society presenting re-enactments of the Viking Age. Our members reflect all walks of life and all ages.
- While the Society concentrates mainly on the 10th Century, some events are set in the wider period from 790 to 1066, with the appropriate modifications to dress and equipment used.
- If you need more detail or a written response please contact the Society Publicity Thegn.
Positives to Try to Get In:
- Our aim is to provide an accurate and educational portrayal of the Viking period, with an equal emphasis on the daily life of the period, and on the more warlike aspects of life in what was a formative period in European history.
- Our events are renowned for the high standard of presentation, historical accuracy and attention to detail, and for the scale and impact of our combat displays, as well as for our extensive static displays which present a cross-section of life in the tenth century.
- We use ‘props’ (not weapons) based on actual archaeological finds and appropriate references.
- We are often involved in experimental archaeology – helping the academic world understand finds and they way in which artifacts were used.
- We all have great fun doing this!
If they want to film some action:
- If one of the persons named at the top of this document is present, involve them. If not, involve the most senior person at the event.
- WE are in charge at all times, we only do what we believe to be safe and good for our hobby. If we mess up, we are risking the hobby of 1,500 Vike members because our insurers will simply start saying no. As re-enactors, we do not benefit by one shot over another. Their insurance DOES NOT stop a massive claim being made against us.
- Please do not get star-struck, just remember these people are just as delicate as every other member of public and they are very distracted by what they are trying to do.
- They are NEVER allowed inside our safety ropes to do any filming or photos whilst we are fighting. This includes training and display and playing … any normal fighting. Their lenses will cope very well with 10m distances.
- They can do some close up work with experienced warriors IF we appoint a safety marshal (another experienced warrior) to guide them and pull them back or to halt the fighting if necessary whilst some VERY SLOW fighting takes place. “Close up” means at least a sword’s length away at all times – they have amazing lenses. The High Council will hold that marshal responsible for anything that goes wrong (so perhaps it just isn’t worth it).
- Go-Pros worn on the chest or the head are fine so long as it is not during a public display. They must agree though that no damages will be reimbursed, all of the risks are theirs, not ours.
The High Council, the Head of Publicity and the Head of Media Relations would rather you stay conservative and hold back, rather than jump in with both feet and regret the outcome.
Thanks for your help. Published by: Chris Abrams, Sandie Gillbanks, Gail Bowden, Mark Talbot.