Media inquiries about faculty resources or other news story ideas from the Tippie College of Business should be directed to Tom Snee in the University News Services at 319-384-0010 (office) or 319-541-8434 (cell).
In general, the more time you spend planning, the less time and money you need to spend on the media project or activity. Being organized makes any communication project easier and more successful. The following are suggested lead times: news releases (2-4 weeks ahead), news features (8-10 weeks ahead), and newspaper advertising (space reservations must be made as early as possible; creative preparation for an ad can require 3-4 weeks).
There are several ways to get our message to the public through the news media:
- News releases
- Opinion pieces or letters
- Story ideas (presented in person, on the phone, or by email) to a reporter
- Responding to media queries
The method chosen depends on the message and the preferences of the reporter receiving the news. These channels are diverse and reflect the personal preferences of the individual reporter and the technology used to transmit the news.
University News Services in University Communications and Marketing coordinates media relations for the university and may be able to help write a story about your research or other news for distribution to local, state, and national media. If you have a news item, feel free to write a draft or a summary, addressing the who, what, when, why, where, and how of your story. Also, be sure to include contact information. Send it to our University News Services editor, Tom Snee, and he will contact you to coordinate the news release.
Iowa Now is produced daily by University Communications and Marketing and acts as a one-stop source for University of Iowa news, offering information and insights from people and programs throughout the university. Iowa Now also distriutes a daily email digest with its latest stories, and it allows readers to get news via RSS. Iowa Now is distributed across campus and to a wide general audience, including the news media. To subscribe yourself, visit the Subscribe page for more info.
What Is News?
To be newsworthy, your story needs to be timely, new, or useful to readers, viewers, and listeners. Your news item may be important to you, but it may not be important to the editor or producer who must sift through hundreds of news releases a day. But there is often a smaller yet more attentive audience on the local level who may be interested in it.
Strong State or National News Stories
- Research findings or commentary that can be "news you can use." This should include practical applications of research, such as tax tips, personal finance, or how to be a better manager.
- Research that can be linked to issues of current interest, such as the IPO market, e-commerce, trade with China.
- Unique or unusual programs that may have prominence in the state or national arena or be part of a national trend. The Iowa Electronic Markets is a good examples; the IEM is the only market of its kind where you can buy shares in political candidates. It is also an excellent predictor of election outcomes.
- Expert commentary on current events offering a unique point of view.
- Interesting or unusual student stories about activities, programs, and student life. Student entrepreneurs and the writing program for accounting students are two good examples.
Weak State or National News Stories
In general, weak news is news that happens every day, either at the University of Iowa or is common at most universities. However, these items may be of interest to the UI community and could merit mention in UI publications such as Business at Iowa, the online fyi publication, The Daily Iowan, or local publications such as the Iowa City Press-Citizen or Iowa City Gazette. These may be the most appropriate place for your news to reach the desired audience. Examples include:
- Faculty and staff appointments, awards, and meetings.
- Conferences, guest speakers, and other visitors to campus.
- Programs or events that are similar to those at other universities (honors programs, small business assistance, unless they are addressing a new problem or trend).
- Technical or specialized research that may be difficult for the average person to comprehend.
Unsolicited Queries: What to Do When the Media Calls
- Get the reporter's name and contact information, and find out what the interview is about. If possible, don't go into an interview cold, but know that you will likely need to speak without much preparation.
- Have a message. If you know the subject of the interview, prepare three to five key points you want to make.
- An interview is not a conversation. The media are a conduit to the public. Speak to the public, not the reporter. Be friendly, but remember that interviews are how reporters conduct business.
- Don't speak "off the record." An off-the-record comment may not be attributed to you, but that doesn't mean it won't appear in print or be used to confirm information.
- Keep it simple. Nothing ruins an interview faster than long, complex explanations. If you want your message conveyed, be sure to say it simply.
- Be brief. Practice answering questions in 20 seconds or less. Chances are, the reporter will use the first decent 20-second comment and skip much of the rest.
- Tell the truth. Don't lie and don't guess.
If you need help, contact Tom Snee at University News Services.
Reporters Seeking Expertise
University News Services fields hundreds of calls from national, state, and local media seeking expert commentary on a wide range of issues. Tom Snee refers these queries to the appropriate faculty or staff person, based on their expertise and research. Depending on the nature of the query or the reporter's deadline, he will tell you what information the reporter needs and ask you to return the call or e-mail. In other cases, the reporter may need more general information or be on a tight deadline; in this case, Tom may supply the contact information and ask the reporter to contact you directly.
Some key points:
- Keep Tom Snee and Barbara Thomas up-to-date on your research and expertise. Even if we can't use the information right away, it could be used for future stories, features, and responses to queries.
- Be responsive and available. Reporters often work on tight daily deadlines, so try to return calls or email as soon as possible after preparing what you are going to say.
- What's your comfort level in dealing with the media? If you don't want to field media queries or field them on a regular basis, let Tom Snee know. He can refer media to other sources or give you more tips on how to work with the media. If you like talking with the media, let Tom know. Reporters like sources who are easy to reach, knowledgeable about their subject, and can speak clearly and concisely.
- Provide a home phone or cell phone number. The news doesn't stop being reported after 5 p.m. If you feel comfortable, give out these numbers to a reporter—they appreciate it.