General Media Guidelines for Faculty and Staff
As one of the nation's most comprehensive public research universities, The University of Toledo has a unique opportunity to provide a wide variety of information and expertise on a broad range of topics through print and electronic media. A positive relationship between UT and the media can help educate the public, increase donor support, and enhance UT's reputation in the community and across the country.
What makes a good story?
Perhaps the best and most honest answer is simply whatever attracts the attention and curiosity of reporters and editors at any given time. Some key elements to attracting their attention include:
- Uniqueness — Being the first or only organization in the city, region or nation to develop and offer a program or course, make a discovery, develop a new medical procedure, etc.
- Numbers — The story must have the potential to affect or interest large numbers of people.
- Timeliness — The more recent the event or discovery, the better.
- Significance — A topic that is considered noteworthy by experts or a local angle to a national topic in the news.
- Human interest — Hearing the story from a "real" person, one who experienced it, such as a patient or student, usually carries more weight than UT spokespersons or experts commenting on the story.
What you should know about reporters
Reporters are generally under tight deadlines with turnaround times sometimes mere hours after their initial request. While there is no obligation to correspond with reporters, each story represents an opportunity to showcase to large numbers of people a department's, as well as the University's, expertise in a given area. If UT is unable to fulfill a reporter's request within his or her deadline, the reporter will likely highlight another organization.
Working with the media is a symbiotic relationship. Reporters are more likely to pause and listen to your story ideas and pitches if you have helped provide them with an interview or background information in the past.
Reporters are aggressive in getting the story. If you are not providing them the information they need, they will ask you straightforward questions to get responses they are seeking.
Most reporters covering UT will likely have little or no experience in your area of expertise. This also is true of the audience viewing or reading your interview. Refrain from using technical terms and keep the information at a layperson's level.
The Office of University Communications offers UT employees media training opportunities to help improve interview and communication skills during interactions with the news media. Sessions place employees in front of a news camera with a UT media representative posing as a reporter. The video is then critiqued and suggestions made for future improvements. Employees can sign up for media training by contacting the Office of University Communications at 419.530.2002.