Division of Student Affairs

Media Relations Best Practices

Sound media relationships are a three-way business relationship between you, your shared stakeholders and audience, and the media that will deliver your message. Your goal is to provided media with sale-able information designed to go through them and to your audience. Anything less is destined to be ineffective as an unheard message or at worst create a negative reaction. Working with the media is a necessary part of the business. Welcome and work with them at each and every opportunity and develop sound relationships early on. 

General Dos & Don'ts 

Do

  • Make sure your press release information is newsworthy and relevant to the readers of the publication you are sending it to. 
  • Edit your release and stick to the point. Providing good, well written and through content directly to the media makes it the reporting process easier for both parties. 
  • Include appropriate contacts who will be willing to answer questions and talk to reporters.
  • Provide additional supporting documents such as fact sheets, photos videos or websites to help the media craft a story or better understand your message.
  • Send your release to the correct contact or beat writer. 
  • Build trust and relationships with your media outlets. Get to know what kinds of stories or sources they are in need of most. 
  • Respond quickly when a journalist asks for information or an interview. 

Don't 

  • Send your release to multiple media outlets without strategically considering if your story is a good fit for their publication.
  • Have an unclear goal or desired outcome from the release. Why do you want people to know what you are sharing with them?
  • Provide contacts who are unwilling or will not have the time to respond in a timely matter to interview requests. 
  • Be too long-winded. Stick to the point and paint a strong picture. 
  • Try to bargain or barter with your media outlet to get them to print a story. This undermines trust and it is against a journalist's code of ethics.
  • Provide supporting documents that are jargon-heavy or hard to read. Translate into lay-language when possible.
  • Ignore the use of social media as a communication tool. Use it wisely to manage risk and provide information. 
  • Lie or provide uncredible information. Once your character and credibility are called into question or worse yet, exposed as fraudulent, your subsequent success with media will be forever limited. 

Finally, in the event it is unwise to comment legally on a matter, such as a personnel matter, say so. Remind the media representative by saying, "All your readers are well aware that commenting on this matter now is not wise and could have legal ramifications so I will respectfully refrain." 

Empower those you prefer not talking to media by teaching them to say, "I'm not the person that has the information on that.  Here is the contact information for the person who does.  If you have problems reaching them, call me back and I will help you track them down." 

 

Special thanks to Charlie Powell, Senior Public Information Office with the College of Veterinary Medicine for providing the information above.