Working with the Media
Are you conducting research, planning an important conference or event, publishing a book or paper, receiving a significant grant or award, or overseeing a unique project in your classroom or community? If so, your efforts or expertise may be of interest to the news media.
The benefits of working with the media are many, and vital to the University. Through the media, the University gains access to new, large, and important audiences. By highlighting your achievements, we can help build support for and understanding of San Francisco State.
Who we are and what we can do for you
University Communications is your connection to local and national media outlets. We reach news outlets throughout the Bay Area, state, and nation.
Placements range from national front-page headlines to short news articles in local papers and interviews on local television. But not all the good work being done at SFSU is necessarily considered newsworthy by the media.
The following guidelines can help you determine whether your news might make the News
Findings from studies, surveys, and other research can often be a great source of news, especially if the results have some public interest. Scientific research is most newsworthy when it is about to be published or presented as a paper at a conference.
Major Awards or Grants
Please tell us about any significant awards or grants won by faculty.
Whether it's teaching science to inner-city children or developing an on-line network to boost community involvement, outreach programs often make news.
Unusual class or class project
A new class on funk music, or a field course to test for soil toxins might be the kinds of unique activities that interest journalists.
If it's open to the public, brings well-known speakers to the campus, or involves current or controversial issues, we may be able to help publicize it. Remember lead time. Many calendar deadlines are weeks before an event.
A new play, book, film, dance, or other creative endeavor, especially with a timely edge or student involvement, may attract arts and entertainment writers.
Departments and programs
New programs are sometimes newsworthy, but usually only if they are linked to social issues or emerging industries. The Vietnamese American Studies Program, for example, garnered significant media coverage as the first of its kind.
Opinion articles and letters to the editor
Faculty with expertise in a timely subject, or who wish to draw the public's attention to an issue, might want to offer an opinion piece to local or national newspapers. We can help you craft an effective piece and contact opinion page editors.
Visuals can make a big difference
Whether it's a shot of students in the lab, slides of your research, or a dance rehearsal, visuals often determine if the news media will cover your story.
How to handle a call from the media
Ordinarily, the Public Affairs staff fields and directs incoming calls from the media. Sometimes we refer news reporters to you as an expert contact, or they may contact you directly. The following are helpful points to remember when dealing with media calls:
Remember to get the reporter's name and outlet;
Return media calls as soon as possible -- reporters are often on deadlines;
Speak concisely and clearly;
Remember that anything you say may appear in print;
If the reporter's questions are reasonable, be cooperative, but don't feel obligated to comment on issues outside your area of expertise;
Don't speculate and don't guess. If you don't know something, admit it and refer the reporter to someone who is knowledgeable in that area;
Always remind reporters to include your affiliation to SFSU when referring to you as a source;
Don't ask to review a story before it is printed; this is not proper news etiquette. Do, however, invite reporters to call you back if they need to check their facts
Please let us know when you speak with the media
We need to keep track of these contacts. In some cases, we can suggest further sources to a reporter who may still be working on a story.
If you need assistance on a particularly sensitive or controversial issue, please contact our office to discuss how you might best respond.
And please bear in mind...
We can identify you as an expert on SFSU's Web site. If you go to the Faculty Experts page, you'll find an alphabetical listing of subjects often in the news. Linked to them are SFSU faculty experts, able to offer media specialized knowledge in these areas. Topics on the page range from Aging and AIDS to Weather and Women's Issues.
NOTE: Media professionals move quickly, so we try to list faculty who are willing to provide their home phone number, as well as campus number and e-mail address
A final word
We're always eager to help promote the University and its faculty, but because of our small staff size we can't regularly contact all of our faculty individually. If you think you have some news, please give us a call or send us an e-mail message. We look forward to working with you!