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“You Know Why I’m Here”

I’ve enjoyed Marshawn Lynch’s recent press moments more than I should. He might just be my favorite professional football player right now for all of the wrong reasons.
If you aren’t in Beastmode (the name of his apparel line), Marshawn plays for the Seattle Seahawks and has been fined previously by the NFL for not participating in mandatory media days. He showed up for this year’s Super Bowl events, but at the first press conference he responded to all questions by saying, “I’m only here so I won’t get fined.”

During yesterday’s press conference he responded to all questions by saying, “you know why I’m here.”

We’ve all been there. If you have a campus communications role, you’ve had to ask a faculty member, administrator, staffer or student to talk to the media when they have made it very, very clear they would rather do anything else and will make your life difficult for making the request. And in the end, they deliver on that promise.
So here’s my advice—don’t ask them.
If someone isn’t going to step up and doesn’t see your offer as recognition of their excellence, then move on. A media opportunity is a gift. It is an opportunity to share expertise, highlight research (and possibly gain attention for grant funding), or showcase work that is scholarship- or accolade-worthy. And like any gift, it doesn’t have to be given.
If you have someone on campus in Beastmode, think creatively about how you can still highlight research by telling the story more creatively and graphically, talk about the rationale for the academic program through the experiences of students, or thank donors for giving the dollars for campus scholarships.
It’s my experience that those who say they don’t want to participate in interviews often change their minds once they realize you can tell their story without them. They have a choice, but so do you. After all, they know why you’re here.