Why work with the media?
UW-Eau Claire must maintain and enhance its national reputation for excellence to attract top faculty and staff, and the best and brightest students. We also must help our alumni and our neighbors better understand the important role the university plays in the economic and cultural well-being of our region and state. Communicating the university’s substantial reach and impact will help us attract additional private dollars and build a case for stronger state support.
How can I help?
We need faculty and staff to help us identify stories, photo opportunities and campus experts. And we need you to be available to talk with reporters, sometimes on very short notice.
If you have a news story or an upcoming event to promote, contact the News Bureau as soon as possible. Our office is staffed by experienced public relations professionals (as well as former journalists) who work with the media on a daily basis. We can help determine the best way to promote your story or event in the media.
Depending on the story, topic or event, we can issue news releases, include information in tip sheets, call or e-mail reporters, post information online, organize a news conference and/or include the information in our on- and off-campus publications.
If you get us the information, we’ll do the writing. The News Bureau follows the style of the Associated Press, which is used by many media outlets. So while we have you review stories for accuracy, we ask that you leave the style to us.
The News Bureau has extensive distribution lists of local, regional, national and international media. Let us know if you have a specialty publication that you would like us to include in the distribution of your information.
If the news media is interested in telling your story, chances are good that they’ll want to talk with you directly. So be prepared to tell your story directly to the reporter even if a news release has been sent.
What interests the media?
Keep in mind that whether your story or event gets noticed by the media can depend on numerous factors, including things such as the timing of an event, the significance or timeliness of a topic or even what other news is happening that day.
All news organizations decide what to include in their publications and broadcasts. There are things we can do to help bring your story to a reporter’s attention, but there are no guarantees that you will get media coverage.
However, we can include your news in university publications such as the University Bulletin, Summer Bulletin and e-View, which are read by many audiences, including faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other friends of the university.
Here are some tips to help you evaluate what might be of interest to the news media:
- The media rarely uses stories about events that they learn about after the fact. As soon you know about an upcoming event, contact the News Bureau.
- If you are involved in research relating to a topic that’s of interest to the general public, think about how you can explain it in a way that the average person will understand and care about.
- If you have expertise that relates to breaking regional, national or international news, let us know that you’re available and we’ll let the media know you have information to share.
- If you’ve received an honor or recognition, completed a major project or are involved in work that would be of interest to the general public, let us know so we can share your story. Include anything that will help us identify something about the information that makes it unusual.
- If you teach or work with a student who has won a major award, completed an interesting research project or succeeded in some other newsworthy way, let us know so we can share the story.
- If you are involved in new initiatives that set our campus apart from other universities, let the News Bureau know about it. Examples include new uses of technology, innovative classes or significant changes to programs.
- Let us know if there will be opportunities available to help illustrate the story. For example, will it be possible to photograph students doing field work for your research?
What does it mean to be an “expert”?
The News Bureau regularly contacts faculty and staff looking for an “expert” in a particular area. Sometimes these contacts are in response to a regional reporter’s interest in localizing state, national or world stories. Other times, it’s national or international news organizations seeking experts to talk about specific issues.
What a reporter wants in an expert is someone with knowledge that will make their story stronger. They’re not expecting you to have definitive answers to every question but simply to add interesting information to their story
We encourage you to meet with a reporter if a topic falls within your area of expertise. Your cooperation will help build the university’s reputation for excellence.
The News Bureau publishes an online Experts Directory providing journalists with experts based on topics. We encourage all faculty and staff to be included in the Experts Directory.
We also are always looking for faculty and staff who can talk about topics that currently are in the news (for example, presidential elections, the economy, the Middle East, etc.). Please let us know if there is a “hot” topic that you can talk about with the media.
Tips for talking to journalists
You’re welcome to talk with reporters on your own or request that someone from the News Bureau sit in on the interview. Either way, we ask that you let us know you’ve been interviewed so we are able to better track stories and media contacts.
The News Bureau organizes media training seminars, either for groups or individuals. If you’re interested in learning more about working with the media, contact Julie Poquette at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-836-3985.
Here are some basic tips for working with a reporter:
- Ask the reporter to identify you as being affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (rather than just the University of Wisconsin).
- Get the reporter’s full name, media affiliation and contact information (in case you want to follow up later).
- Ask what the story is about before agreeing to the interview. If you choose to not do the interview, tell the reporter why. Never say “no comment.”
- Find out the reporter’s deadline and respect it. Return calls promptly.
- If you’re not the appropriate spokesperson for a particular story, refer the reporter to someone who is or to the News Bureau.
- Be prepared. If need be, tell the reporter you’ll call back in a few minutes, gather your thoughts and then return the call promptly. If you decide against doing the interview, let the reporter know immediately.
- Identify your audience (it’s not the reporter). Who do you most want to hear your message? Keep your audience in mind when deciding on your key points.
- Identify two or three key points. Make the important points several times to ensure the reporter understands them. Volunteer information you think is important even if a reporter doesn’t ask.
- Anticipate questions the reporter might ask and have responses ready.
- Keep it simple; avoid university jargon or technical terms.
- Be brief. TV and radio stories may use only a 10-30 second sound bite. The shorter your comments – to broadcast and print reporters – the less likely you are to be edited.
- It’s best to not joke or make comments that may reflect poorly on you if taken out of context.
- Remember that if you don’t want to see something in print or on the evening news, don’t say it. “Background” and “off the record” agreements can be misunderstood and cause conflict.
- Use examples to illustrate your points.
- Don’t ask to review a story before it’s printed or aired. Instead, encourage the reporter to call back if they have more questions or need clarification.
- Be cooperative. Reporters want to get it right, so do what you can to make it easy for them to get information.
- If you think you’ve been misquoted, call the reporter rather than the editor. If the misquote is major, ask for a correction. If it’s minor, let it go.
- If you can’t answer a question, explain why. If you don’t know the answer, say so and offer to get the answer if possible.
- After a story appears, let the reporter know if you think they’ve done a good job. They will appreciate it since they often only hear complaints or criticisms.