Media Training Consultants
The Marketing and Communications Office is staffed with seasoned professionals who have actually worked in both print and television media. They know what the media is looking for and how to help you get the coverage you desire for your research, project or event. Let us help you.
Is it Newsworthy?
Sometimes faculty members wonder why the news item that seems so important to them doesn't make it into the news. It may be that the item doesn't fit the media's qualifications for newsworthiness or perhaps the news item is just not being pitched in a way that appeals to the media. Here's a test for newsworthiness.
- Proximity: A newsworthy story must seem relevant to the audience; they should feel the topic is near to their reality of the world. The nearness can be in regard to place (as in something that affects their community) or nearness of relation (as in something that is relevant to their lives).
- For example: Few people paid attention to war in Afghanistan when it involved conflict with the Soviet Union. It was far away and didn't affect their lives. But, a story about U.S. troops or even Idaho troops being sent to Afghanistan brings the story closer to the hearts of the audience. If it's their son or brother fighting they'll take notice.
- Look for the part of the story that brings the topic closer to the public, then emphasize that point.
- Timeliness: A reporter will not cover a story that is old or seems old. It must be happening now.
- For example: Hearing about an explosion at a factory two weeks after the fact is irrelevant.
- Timeliness can also refer to whether the story is relevant to current events.
- For example: A story about tests to detect bioterrorism is more likely to receive press now than before September 11, 2001.
- Novelty: A story that is novel or goes outside the norm.
- For example: Stories about students who are extremely young or old. One university received worldwide coverage of video of a research project where alligators were being monitored while running on a treadmill-definitely not something you see every day!
- Consequence: A story that shows the effect or result of an event or action.
- Conflict: A story where there is opposition, disagreement, or controversy. People quite often enjoy a good fight.
- Sensationalism: A story intended to have a startling or scandalous effect.
- Human Interest: A story designed to arouse the audience's feelings and/or sympathy for the people and problems described in the story. A human interest story highlights the sorrows, hardships, or triumphs of a person. Audiences can better relate to an issue when they see how it has affected another person.
- Prominence: A story featuring a topic or person that is considered important or well-known.
- Suspense: A story where the outcome is uncertain.
Topics Which Gain Media Coverage
- Faculty experts addressing current topics in the news
- Research with real-life benefits to the community or humankind
- New technology
- Human interest stories (i.e. a student overcoming great odds to graduate from college; an 80-year-old student working for a degree; a day in the life of a foreign student continuing forward in these uncertain times)
- Events (i.e. conferences, speakers, performances, concerts, etc.)
- Innovative teaching methods with a visual component
- New academic programs
- Large donations
- Examples of trends in higher education
What To Do If The Media Calls
- Respond immediately to an interview request even if you can't do the interview. A reporter is working under deadline. Assume the interview is needed that same day.
- Make use of a reporter's prep time. Find out what the reporter knows and what areas he/she will focus on during the interview.
- Know what you want to say Write down some talking points ahead of time. This will keep you from getting sidetracked.
- Dress Appropriately and Check your Grooming! A rule of thumb: If the interview is in a television studio, dress as the anchor would dress. If the interview is in your office, home, or out in the field, dress as you would normally dress (but not sloppy). Also, look in a mirror-is your hair combed? Do you have spinach between your teeth?
- Keep your comments short and to the point. Reporters are looking for quick concise quotes or soundbites. Be careful not to ramble.
- Prepare for tough questions especially if the topic is controversial or sensitive.
- Remember...Nothing is "Off the Record"
- If you don't know an answer, say so, NEVER fake an answer.
- Avoid academic jargon and complicated explanations. Think of a reporter as a student in your class. Explain your specialty in a simplified way so it's understandable and applicable to the average person.
- Give us a call. If you still have questions or concerns, we can help you prepare.