Guide to Media Messaging

PEP Presentation

Academics using Twitter: Messaging, not Writing- Presentation by Jane E. Fontain, PhD 


Helping Journalists Interpret and Use Your Research- Webinar by Amy Schalet, Presented to the American Sociological Association's Section on Children and Youth on December 6th, 2017


Press Release Example

How to Reach Media Representatives

National Priorities ProjectGuide to Contacting the Media

Tips from PEP Media Panel

You can enter the media by:

  • having your research hit the big time (the industry follows where the NYT goes); or
  • having an issue come up to which your expertise can contribute.
  • Think about the public you are seeking to reach through the new story: what readership do you want to reach, and what would you like them to do as a consequence of receiving your message.
  • Ask journalists in advance about their “angle on the story: what are they hoping to write. This way you can think about how best to convey your expertise and communicate your message.
  • Think of 2 or 3 key messages that you want to convey, and practice how to communicate them in simple terms.
  • Write notes to yourself to prepare for the interview, so you clarify your thinking, and can make best use of the time during the interview.
  • Once you have your core message, you can keep repeating it over and over, for different media (paper, radio, television) so that you don’t need to keep doing the work over and over.
  • Ask to see a draft copy before the final version of the article—to fact-check and make sure you were accurately and appropriately (many journalists will not agree, but it’s worth requesting).
  • When asking to review the article, be sensitive to the journalist’s need for quick turn-around: promise to give feedback within 24 if there is an urgent deadline so they are more likely to agree.
  • Also promise to only correct the most egregious mistakes.
  • Think about what media you prefer to use: some prefer working with radio because it gives more opportunities to restate your point or correct yourself (or the interviewer).
  • Be sensitive to the time line that journalists are working with: be ready when they need you.
  • Don’t say no more than once if you want them to use you as a resource; have a referral ready if you do say know of another expert whom you trust.
  • Be aware of the limitations of your data and overstepping what your data allow you say, but…
  • It’s also okay to speculate: you can share a hunch, especially if you have a relationship with a journalist, who may go out and do his or her own research on the topic.
  • As one media specialist once said to have a story, you need a fact, a quote, and a comparison.

In appreciation of their generous support, the UMass Public Engagement Project would like to thank the Office of the ProvostUniversity Relations, and the Colleges of Natural SciencesSocial and Behavioral Sciences Humanities and Fine ArtsEngineeringPublic Health and Health Sciences, and Education.  The UMass Public Engagement Project also recognizes and appreciates in-kind contributions and collaborations with the Center for Research on Families and the Institute for Social Science Research