Sample Template for Pre-scripted, Initial Response to Media Inquiries


Customize Materials. You will need to customize materials with information about your agency or location, and real-time details about the emergency situation.

Work with your PIO. Always work with your assigned public information staff on communication issues.

Not required. Use of these materials is not required. They were developed as resources to help in public health emergency planning and response. Always consult your agency's emergency plans and policies, and follow appropriate Incident Command System procedures.

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Here are some suggestions for responses to the media when you are still in the process of assembling facts for the initial press release statement. Remember: getting the facts is a priority. It is important that your organization not give in to pressure to confirm or release information before you have confirmation from your subject matter experts and approval authorities.

Pre-scripted response if on phone to media:

  • “We've just learned about the situation and are trying to get more complete information now. How can I reach you when I have more information?”

  • “All our efforts are directed at bringing the situation under control, so I'm not going to speculate about the cause of the incident.” How can I reach you when I have more information?”

  • “I'm not the authority on this subject. Let me have (name) call you right back.”

  • “We're preparing a statement on that now. Can I fax it to you in about two hours?”

  • “You may check our web site for background information and I will fax/e-mail you with the time of our next update.”

Pre-scripted response if in person at incident site or in front of press meeting:

This is an evolving emergency and I know that, just like we do, you want as much information as possible right now. While we work to get your questions answered as quickly as possible, I want to tell you what we can confirm right now:

  • At approximately (time), a (brief description of what happened).

  • At this point, we do not know the number of (persons ill, persons exposed, injuries, deaths, etc.).

  • We have a (system, plan, procedure, operation) in place for just such an emergency and we are being assisted by (police, FBI, EOC) as part of that plan.

  • The situation is (under) (not yet under) control and we are working with (local, State, Federal) authorities to (contain this situation, determine how this happened, determine what actions may be needed by individuals and the community to prevent this from happening again).

  • We will continue to gather information and release it to you as soon as possible. I will be back to you within (amount of time, 2 hours or less) to give you an update. As soon as we have more confirmed information, it will be provided.

  • We ask for your patience as we respond to this emergency.