Alert the media!

Made a fascinating discovery? Planning an interesting event? Earned some serious kudos for your work? The U’s communications office can help spread the word and now there’s an online tool to get the ball rolling.

“We got the sense that some faculty knew how to reach us and some did not,” says Maria O’Mara, director of the university communications office. “This is a place for faculty to start the process of thinking about who they want to reach and what they want to say.”

The communications office works with university professors, researchers and students to identify newsworthy developments. Communication specialists find the best ways to share news, whether by press release, a pitch to journalists, social media or other means. The communications office also offers media training and coaching to optimize interactions with reporters or general audiences.

You can check out examples of news releases at U News Center. The communications office typically sends news releases directly to selected journalists and publications. News releases also reach wide audiences through heavily trafficked news services such as Newswise and EurekAlert!.

Don’t hesitate to submit an idea using the online form, even if you are unsure of its newsiness. “We are always open to conversations,” O’Mara says. “We’ll get back to you in 24 to 48 hours.” Or feel free to contact people in the communications office directly. You can look up the best person to call or email in this online listing.

Not every story needs to aim for giant mainstream media outlets. It may find a large audience via a trade publication or specialized blog. It might best be targeted to the campus community, for instance, through the online newsletter you’re reading now.

Context from Campus, a weekly heads-up to local media, highlights experts at the U who can explain and provide deeper context on current events. It also lists upcoming talks and events on campus, and the communications office is always looking for people and events to list.

It’s best to start the conversation as early as possible. It is never too early, but it is often too late to seize on the chance for publicity. Creating effective and accurate messages takes time. Journalists tend to ignore results that happened last week or last month. If a reporter calls seeking your expertise, she or he is probably on a deadline measured in minutes or hours, not days, and will move on to another source if you don’t respond quickly.

“If we don’t have enough time, a lot of avenues close,” O’Mara says.