Tips for Working with the Media
Responding to media inquiries
Positive media coverage is an important part of the university's communications efforts, including its public outreach and its recruitment and retention of students. Responding promptly and accurately to the news media helps ensure correct information about the university is published.
Faculty and staff are free to respond to requests from the media regarding their research, scholarship, teaching or professional expertise. In such cases, please contact the News Service writer who covers your college so that we can track the upcoming MSU media coverage.
If media inquiries involve issues of university-wide significance and/or are of a controversial or sensitive nature, they are to be referred to University Communications.
If a member of the media contacts you and you would like to discuss the matter, or if you wish to share the details of upcoming events or positive news stories about the university, please contact Michael Becker, MSU News Service director, at 994-4565 or [email protected].
General advice for working with the media
We understand that responding to a member of the media — whether they are working for print, television or another medium – can be nerve-wracking. Here are some guidelines to help ease anxiety while providing accurate information about MSU and helping the reporter meet their needs.
- If a member of the media reaches out to you directly, get the name of the reporter, the media organization they work for and their deadline for receiving information from MSU. Reach out to a member of the News Service to advise them of the contact.
- Be prompt, helpful and honest in dealing with the media. Calls and emails from the media should be returned as soon as possible, keeping in mind reporters' deadlines.
- Make sure you understand each question from the media before answering. It is acceptable to request questions in writing, as it can help in providing fuller, accurate answers. If you cannot answer a question, or are uncomfortable providing a response, gather the reporter's contact information and let the know that someone will contact them as soon as possible. Then follow up by contacting the appropriate media specialist or the News Service director.
- Do not provide speculation or gossip.
- Do not answer a reporter's question with "no comment."
- Do not be condescending or underestimate the reporter's intelligence, but make sure the reporter understands your responses.
- Provide your phone number and/or email address so they can approach you with follow-up questions.
- If you interview with a reporter, find out when they anticipate the story will be released and where it will be available (in print, online or when it will air on TV/radio). Please let the appropriate News Service staff member know this information so they can keep track of the media appearance.
- Remember that in responding to the media, you can be seen as representing and speaking for the university. Avoid sharing personal opinions, and if you do, clearly and carefully identify them as your opinions.
- Refer inquiries about legal issues; personnel issues; campus crises or emergencies; and questions of university integrity, such as ethics or issues that may result in harm to others to the director of the News Service or vice president of University Communications.
- Any media inquiries that involve identifiable information about specific faculty, staff or students should be directed to the director of the News Service or vice president of University Communications.
- Only public information on faculty and staff may be provided without the employee's written approval. Public information can be found on the MSU Directory. If in doubt about what information is public, reach out to the News Service for guidance.
Outreach to news media
The primary means of getting information to members of the news media are the stories produced by the MSU News Service. You can learn more about the news release process or submit a story idea to the News Service.