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This course covers how to navigate the often unspoken conventions of journalism when you speak to the media. You’ll learn how to establish levels of attribution, when and why to speak on-the-record, and how to avoid common pitfalls.

  • Format: self-paced e-learning.
  • Duration: around 90 minutes.
  • Interface: (any browser or mobile device)
  • Content: video briefings, case studies and knowledge check quiz.



This module covers how to approach the various conventions, ethics and best practices that govern how journalists and interviewees agree what they can expect to happen in an interview and how the interview will be used afterwards. Topics include rules, rights, recourse, judgment, relationships and trust.

Off the Record

This module covers definitions and labels for speaking terms and levels of attribution and sourcing: On and Off the Record, Not for Attribution, Sourcing level negotiation and definition, Background and Deep Background.

Speaking as a Source

This module explains the situations in which mistakes and misunderstandings lead to unwanted outcomes, such as unexpectedly being identified as a named source in a story.

Calculating the Risk

This module covers how to assess the benefit and risk involved in speaking off the record or as a source, and examples of situations where it is important to guide a story unofficially.

When to Play Safe

This module identifies situations in which it is unwise to speak off the record or as a source, such as times when legal or regulatory constraints apply or when trust can’t be established.

Asking for the Questions

This module covers how and when to push for a preview of what the journalist is likely to ask — and what to do with the information that comes back.

Negotiating Terms and Deals

This module covers the types of pre-interview deal-making that can be done, how to approach term-setting, and what happens when promises aren’t kept.


This module covers how to get access to the story before it’s broadcast in order to shape its content in your favour.

When does it start

This module covers awareness of informal comments before, after and around the interview that can be recorded and quoted on the record.

Who should attend?

This is a universal course designed for anyone who may speak to the media, and for communications and PR advisers supporting spokespeople around interviews.

What you will learn

After this course you will be able to:

  • Understand the levels of attribution that are available for interviews
  • Judge the risks and benefits involved in speaking off the record
  • Negotiate and agree pre-interview terms with a journalist
  • Maximise your control over the published story