Working With the Media

1. Show that the Activity/Event is "Newsworthy." Newsworthy information usually has at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Timeliness (i.e., has some immediate impact on readers or relates to "breaking news"). Examples include: a back-to-school story on Social Work students working in partnership with David Douglas Schools; a UAA employee’s first-person account of a recent earthquake in Turkey; an "Earth Day" story about UAA students doing environmental research as part of a Senior Capstone.
  • Novelty (e.g., the first, the best, the only, etc.). Examples include: a faculty member receiving the first-ever CDC grant to study child sexual abuse; students creating a paper bike for an engineering competition; an industry-responsive degree/certificate program that is the first in the Pacific Northwest; graduates winning a top ranking on a national licensure exam; a faculty member being named Alaska’s Professor of the Year.
  • Consequece (i.e., a development that will have significant impact on readers). Examples include: research directly related to an HIV vaccine; a program aimed at "professionalizing" Alaska’s child care industry; a faculty member heading a task force studying PDX expansion; the earthquake potential in the Pacific NW; faculty and students designing a wheelchair that will climb street curbs.
  • Drama (i.e., revealing something quirky or colorful about the human condition or character). Examples include: a speech clinic that helps a stroke victim say her husband’s name for the first time in four years; a story about an 80-year-old woman graduating from UAA; colleagues of a kidnapping victim talking about her work and the circumstances that exist in the country in which she lives.
  • Prominence (i.e., relating to a public figure/organization). Examples include: an event featuring Colin Powell; the release of a movie, set in Anchorage, in which Gwyneth Paltrow wears a UAA sweatshirt; a student-funded child care program hailed by Hillary Clinton as "setting an example for the nation"; scholarly research that relates to a newly released story about a Presidential candidate’s controversial stand on an issue; research that contradicts a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

2. Remember Media Relation’s Golden Rule: WIIFM

  • That is, "What’s In It For Me?"
  • Show reporters/editors why their audience will want this information. Ask yourself, "Why would readers/viewers/listeners of the popular press want to give up their precious time and attention to read/watch/listen?"

3. Work With Marketing & Communications (OMC)
Call, email, or fax us information about your event or activity well in advance of when you’d like coverage (please refer to contact information below). Many publications have lead times of weeks or months. Call us back immediately if we’ve contacted you about a media inquiry for faculty expertise—most reporters work on deadlines of a few hours. Keep us informed about your research, awards, etc. With over 1,000 records, our faculty database can quickly get out of date. Have a recent publicity photo available. Better yet, provide us with a publicity photo for our files. Marketing and Communications is responsible for getting positive UAA stories published in the popular and trade press (i.e., not academic journals), and for sharing our expertise with the campus community. Our job is to get the right information to the right person at the right time in the way that the reporter/editor prefers to have it delivered. Our areas of media expertise include the following:

  • Knowing what news is and finding the news angle (if there is one) in UAA stories.
  • Knowing the TV/radio programs and general interest publications to which UAA might pitch stories.
  • Knowing assignment editors’ and reporters’ needs and preferences, so that our press releases or story pitches are favorably received.
  • Being on top of editorial calendars and breaking news so that we can pitch stories at a time they are most likely to be picked up.
  • Writing clear, concise and interesting press releases, to increase the likelihood that reporters and editors will publish/broadcast the story.
  • Preparing UAA employees for media interviews.
  • With limited resources, the Marketing and Communications office must prioritize. We expend the most resources on stories that show the following:
    • Students or faculty engaged in novel community-based learning projects (or the community receiving benefits of community-based learning projects).
    • UAA playing a vital role in enhancing Alaska's quality of life (i.e., impacting commerce, culture, or society).
    • The quality of UAA’s students, faculty, equipment, facilities or curriculum.
    • UAA programs as relevant and responsive to community needs.

For media relations help or advice, please contact the Marketing and Communications Staff.

Provided courtesy of PSU