Media and Spokesperson Policy

Approved: June  27, 2004


In accordance with the Academy's vision that its members be recognized as the most valued source of food and nutrition services, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a policy of open, proactive and highly professional communication with the nation's news media. The Academy aims to be the public's and the news media's top resource for the most accurate, credible, objective and timely food and nutrition information.

In furtherance of this aim, the Academy:

  • Coordinates all media activity through the Public Relations Team at the national headquarters.
  • Empowers the Academy President, President-elect, Immediate Past President and Chief Executive Officer to serve as official Academy Spokespersons on public policy issues and in appropriate high-profile media opportunities.
  • Maintains a nationwide network of volunteer media Spokespersons, serving three-year terms, who represent the Academy in important media markets and on topics of special food and nutrition expertise.
  • Administers an extensive training program for Spokespersons including specialized media training and periodic informational briefings on food and nutrition topics.
  • Provides media relations guidance and support to the state affiliate organizations.
  • Enforces guidelines to ensure that Academy Spokespersons and the Spokespersons Program do not have or appear to have conflicts of interest that would make them anything less than highly credible and unbiased sources of information for the news media.
  • Limits the length of time that any one member can serve in the Spokespersons Program. This limitation on length of service is intended to encourage other members to apply for and serve as Academy Spokespersons; to broaden the personal and professional opportunities for as many Academy members as possible; and to increase the numbers of members who are trained and experienced in the vital function of conveying the Academy's messages to the public and the news media.


  1. Basic Qualifications Required

    In order to be considered for the Program, candidates should possess all of the following qualifications:

    • Be an Academy member.
    • Have been an RDN for at least five years (advanced degree and/or specialty certifications desirable but not required).
    • Live or work in the market served.
    • Have a minimum of two years experience in working with the news media (television, radio, print and electronic).
    • Possess and demonstrate strong communication skills and a positive demeanor.
    • Be knowledgeable in food and nutrition science, current food and nutrition topics, Academy Position Papers and two or three specialty areas of expertise.
    • Be free of conflicts of interest (see conflict of interest policy below).
    • Have sufficient flexibility in his or her work schedule to permit media training, interviews (often on short notice), preparation time and occasional travel and other assignments.
    • Promote, support and attend state, district or national Academy activities.
    • Maintain a working scanner/camera, internet access and a valid e-mail address.
  2. Spokesperson Selection Process
    • All open markets for the three-year term commencing on the following June 1st are publicized every year beginning in June in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food & Nutrition and Academy listservs. Applications are accepted for the Spokesperson Program through February 1.
    • Application materials are posted to the member-only section of the Academy's website and may also be obtained by writing or calling the Public Relations Team at Academy headquarters or by emailing
    • To ensure fairness and impartiality in the selection process, all applications are kept confidential.
    • Academy-selected independent media experts working with the Academy's Public Relations Team evaluate applications. The identities of the expert evaluators are kept confidential.
    • All applicants are evaluated on career experience, professional accomplishments, news media experience, skills in print and broadcast interview situations and ability to conform to the performance standards.
    • Applicants are also evaluated to determine whether their existing business and professional interests, commitments, obligations and relationships would constitute a conflict of interest (or the appearance of one) with the responsibilities of an Academy Spokesperson. As part of this evaluation, the Academy reviews the past media placements of the applicant to determine how he or she has been identified by the media.
    • The applicant must disclose all sources of media-related income and other media-related interests that could potentially cause a conflict.
    • Spokespersons are appointed for three-year terms; those wishing to extend their service for another term must re-apply.
    • Spokespersons who apply for an additional term are evaluated by the Academy's Public Relations Team on their success in meeting the Academy's performance standards during their term.
    • Members selected to join the Program are notified annually in March.
  3. Spokesperson Performance Standards

    An Academy Spokesperson must meet the following performance standards.

    1. Avoid any conflict of interest.

      It shall be a conflict of interest for an Academy Spokesperson to:

      • Be a media spokesperson for or endorse any company, product or service.
      • Knowingly distribute false or misleading information.
      • Be quoted in industry press releases.
      • Appear in satellite media tours and video news releases for any other organization.
      • Accept an invitation to an industry sponsored briefing or training event for Spokespersons that is not authorized or sanctioned by the Academy.
      • Accept remuneration for work as an Academy Spokesperson.

      EXAMPLES OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST SCENARIOS: The following are examples of situations that would constitute a conflict of interest even if the Spokesperson does not identify himself or herself as an Academy Spokesperson.

      1. An Academy Spokesperson agrees to participate in a "paid" media opportunity, such as a video news release or satellite media tour, to recommend cheese in upcoming TV interviews.
      2. An Academy Spokesperson works directly with a public relations agency to provide a quote for an industry press release endorsing a new vitamin-fortified orange juice.
      3. An Academy Spokesperson is invited to speak at a conference for an honorarium. The Academy Spokesperson agrees to mention the many benefits of a vegetable wash and encourages attendees to buy the product.
      4. A food company holds a "media junket" and invites an Academy Spokesperson to handle media interviews at the event. 
      • It is not a conflict of interest for a Spokesperson to work for and accept remuneration for services performed for other organizations as long as the work is not that of a Spokesperson on behalf of the Academy, working directly with the media. When in doubt, the Spokesperson shall consult with the Academy's Public Relations Director. In the context of media interviews as an Academy Spokesperson, and only if asked, an Academy Spokesperson may discuss his or her own place of work, business or publications.
      • An Academy Spokesperson must immediately disclose all interests that may arise to the Academy's Public Relations Director that could potentially be considered a conflict. When in doubt, the Spokesperson shall consult with the Public Relations Director. Specific conflict of interest inquiries will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
      • The Academy will review and evaluate potential violations appropriately. An Academy Spokesperson who violates this policy shall be advised in writing by the Academy's Public Relations Director within five business days of the time that the Public Relations Director learns of the violation and shall be given the opportunity to respond to the violation and remove the conflict within 30 days. The response will be reviewed by Board of Directors' Executive Committee.  If a conflict exists and is not resolved within 30 days, the person shall be removed from the Program by written communication from the Executive Committee. 
    2. Maintain a professional work ethic.
      • Demonstrate integrity in all professional and personal actions supporting the Academy's code of ethics.
      • Project a positive professional image and attitude.
      • Provide — and when necessary, seek out — accurate information when acting as a source for the media, the public and Academy members or any other audience.
    3. Follow media interview guidelines.
      • Always identify self as an RDN/RD and Academy Spokesperson. This would apply even when the Spokesperson is being interviewed about the Spokesperson's place of work, own business or publication.
      • Consistently position the registered dietitian nutritionist as the authority on food and nutrition.
      • Convey the Academy's positive food and nutrition philosophies and messages.
      • Work to improve the quality of media interviews.
      • Provide correct, clear, concise answers.
      • Maintain steady level of media activity throughout the year.
      • Initiate print and broadcast news stories.
      • Complete at least 36 media placements per year (self- or Academy-initiated).
      • Respond to last-minute media requests (schedule permitting).
    4. Perform assigned tasks.
      • Follow through and complete assignments promptly.
      • Submit monthly media activity reports by the 10th day of the succeeding month.
      • Review and submit an updated media contact list every six months.
      • Submit updated biography annually.
      • Respond within deadline to Academy special requests for information.
      • Attend Academy training sessions and required events.
      • Cooperate with Academy public relations efforts and programs.
      • Work press room, media roundtables and Academy sessions/booths as needed at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo.
      • Share information and special areas of expertise with fellow Spokespersons and State Media Representatives.
  4. Term

    An Academy Spokesperson serves a three-year term. A Spokesperson wishing to serve an additional term must resubmit an application and go through the evaluation process. No person will continue in the Program beyond nine consecutive years of service unless there are no other viable candidates in the Spokesperson's particular market. If no qualified person applies, the current Spokesperson may be invited to serve a maximum of one additional year.

  5. Past Spokespersons

    At the Academy's discretion, Past Spokespersons occasionally may be asked to conduct media interviews on behalf of the Academy. When a currently active Academy Spokesperson is not available or if the Past Spokesperson has special expertise in an area of interest to the media, the Academy will consider contacting appropriate Past Spokespersons with regard to doing the interview. A former Academy Spokesperson should be identified as an Academy Spokesperson only when conducting an interview at the request of and on behalf of the Academy. When speaking on behalf of the Academy, a Past Spokesperson is bound by the same policies and ethical principals that apply to active Academy Spokespersons.

    Past Spokespersons are kept abreast of the latest food and nutrition news with mailings and Academy news briefs and may also be invited to attend functions at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo.

    Following is a list of potential volunteer activities for Past Academy Spokespersons, allowing for continued contributions to the Academy. Because many Past Spokespersons have professional and personal obligations that do not allow them to continue with activities, all of these recommendations are on a voluntary basis and the extent of involvement is up to the individual:

    • Continue to work with the local media conducting interviews as a registered dietitian nutritionist.
    • Conduct media training workshops for dietetics professionals in their state.
    • Serve as a resource for media sessions at local dietetic association meetings.
    • Mentor state media representatives passing along their many years of training and experience to new members.
    • Participate as a "technical expert" for the Academy and state associations as appropriate.
    • Continue to receive Academy mailings and information on timely food and nutrition issues in the news.

    Academy Public Relations Team will forward contact information of Past Spokespersons to state affiliate presidents on an annual basis.