Faculty/Staff Tips for Working with the Media
With our distinction as the third largest institution in the UW System and our ideal location in northeastern Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, UW Oshkosh has a unique opportunity to provide a wide variety of information and expertise on a broad range of topics through print and electronic media.
UWO’s alumni, faculty, staff and students have many interesting and compelling stories to share from our academic and athletic successes to our research and scholarly activities and community impact. Primary factors that determine the news value or newsworthiness include timeliness, proximity, conflict/controversy, human interest and relevance.
A positive relationship between UWO and the media can help drive student recruitment and retention, educate the public, increase donor support and enhance UWO’s reputation in the region and beyond.
UMC’s media relations efforts include:
- Researching and writing news releases that are sent to print, digital, radio and TV outlets.
- Fielding requests from the media for information about the University and for interviews with campus experts on issues in the news and trending topics.
- Helping faculty and staff prepare for interviews, stay focused on major points and handle the hard questions.
- Setting up news conferences to share major University news with the media/community.
The journalism profession
Working with the media is all about building relationships. Reporters are more likely to listen to our story ideas and pitches if we have helped provide them with an interview or background information in the past.
Journalists are generally under tight deadlines and often must complete a story just hours after getting the assignment from an editor. Each story represents an opportunity to showcase the University’s impact on the community or expertise in a given area. If UWO is unable to fulfill media requests on deadline, reporters will likely highlight another organization.
- Journalists are professionals attempting to communicate information in the most interesting and accurate way. Most reporters are generalists who cover anything deemed newsworthy by their editors. They are not likely to have experience with your area of expertise.
- Beat reporters, however, do cover specific subject areas. They may have an educational background in or a working knowledge of such areas as education, business, health, science, sustainability, etc.
- In general, reporters represent the public’s right to know and they attempt to be as objective as they can. However, sometimes the constant pressure to meet deadlines makes their job extremely difficult.
- Sometimes reporters may check back with you or UMC to fact check specific information, but we’ll not be able to review content before it is published.
- Although deadlines may be tight, we can often arrange for you to call back or meet at a specific time. This will give you an opportunity to collect your thoughts or finish teaching a class. We will vet the story idea first so you will know the angle the reporter is looking for, which can help you prepare. When possible, we will secure questions in advance.
- Most reporters covering UWO do not have experience in your area of expertise. This also is true of the audience viewing or reading your interview. Refrain from using technical or jargon terms from your discipline and keep the information at a layperson’s level.
- Make notes about the points you want to cover. You may even want to write out a list of bullet points beforehand and practice speaking in short sentences. We also are happy to talk through how you might answer questions or explain key concepts. In addition, we can print off and provide or email important background information to the reporter that can help as the story is pulled together.
- Radio: Because radio reporters are limited to three to five sentences per story to present their stories on-air, they look for succinct soundbites of about 10 to 15 seconds that describe the “bottom line” of what the issue is and why it is relevant. We typically set radio interviews up to take place on the telephone. Relax and talk as you would in normal conversation.
- Television: TV reporters also have limited time in which to present their content so they simplify information and typically keep stories to 90 seconds or less. We usually set up TV interviews to take place on camera in your office, outside your building on campus or in the UMC conference room. In addition, you’ll likely be asked to interact with students, walk down the hall or work on your research in a lab for the b-roll or supplemental footage needed to tell the story visually. Business casual clothing and solid colors typically work best; consider wearing UW Oshkosh colors or Titan gear if the subject matter warrants.
- Print: Print/online reporters work for daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, blogs or wire services. Often, they require quite a bit of detail because they have more “space” to tell their stories. Interviews may be done in person, on the phone or sometimes via email. Editors may ask that UMC provide photos or they may send a photographer for a feature or profile story.