Publicity - Your questions answered

What does Media Relations do? 
Why should I bother with publicity?
 
Why are the media interested in me?
 
“I’m too busy to talk to the media!”
 
When does my work become news?
 
My funder/Head of School has asked me to publicise my work. How can I work with the Communications Unit to do this?   
What happens after the Communications Unit issues a story about my work? Have you any tips for undertaking publicity?  
If I don’t have regular research or teaching stories to release, is there anything else I can do to build awareness about my work?

What does Media Relations do?

Media Relations promotes the work and expertise of the University through the regional, national and international media.

Media Relations has three Communications Officers who work with the University’s 20 Schools and eight Directorates to promote and prepare stories on a daily basis for dissemination to the media.

The Communications Unit (which includes Corporate, Internal and Online Communications and Media Relations) offers the following vehicles to help publicise your work:

  • Preparation of news releases (tailored for local, national and international media) on strong research and teaching stories, along with other areas of leadership within the University. These are stories which are of interest to a wide audience.

  • Issuing Media Opportunity notices to the news, planning and picture desks to let journalists and editors know of upcoming events.

  • Placement of feature articles/opinion columns/platform pieces/exclusives with print, online and broadcast media outlets.

  • Where appropriate, working alongside partners such as the Science Media Centre in London (run by the Royal Institution) to promote our experts and their work to the leading news correspondents and science reporters.

  • Promotion of Queen’s activities via eye-catching photographs and extended captions.

  • Advice on handling sensitive issues in the media.

  • Media awareness training (in-house: how to work with the media, find out what the media need from academics).

  • Full broadcast studio-based media training (offered via an external media provider).

  • QTV – broadcast quality video reports on research and teaching stories and events at Queen’s.

  • Experts Directory – An online keyword searchable directory used by the media to find experts willing to speak to them on certain areas e.g. bird-flu, nuclear power and conflict.

  • Provision of corporate copy for a range of platforms.

  • Preparation of speeches for senior management.

  • Queen’s Now –Queen’s internal staff publication – every staff member receives a copy.

  • Staff Round-Up – An online weekly round-up of news and events at Queen’s circulated to all staff and students each Monday.

Not all of the above measures may be needed to publicise your work. If you are unsure which of these vehicles you should avail of, then please fill in this form and email it to comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Why should I bother with publicity?

Working alongside the Communications Unit to promote your work enables Queen’s to reach people worldwide through the mass media of national daily newspapers, the internet, TV channels or specialist trade and academic publications.

 In an increasingly crowded education marketplace, promoting your work can help you, your colleagues and the University stand out from the crowd. In doing so, Queen’s will continue to attract the best staff and students from Northern Ireland and around the globe.

Funders are also increasingly expecting engagement with and the dissemination of results to the wider public.

 Helping promote the excellence of Queen’s and its staff is key in helping the University achieve its Corporate Plan and enhancing its profile on the world stage.

Why are the media interested in me?

While it may seem as though we are stating the obvious, there is tremendous interest across the globe in education and teaching, new advancements, discoveries and expert discussion. This translates into a 24/7 appetite for news from the many print, online and broadcast media outlets. To fill this airtime they need expert opinions and findings to add weight to discussions, reports and documentaries etc.

If you would be interested in contributing to such debates and media coverage then please contact comms.office@qub.ac.uk or telephone 028 9097 3091. Media Relations can also arrange for full media training so you feel more at ease when speaking to the media. The leading research councils also offer media training throughout the year for those in receipt of funding.

“I’m too busy to talk to the media!”

Are you too busy to find a new funder or industrial partner?

Numerous colleagues throughout the University have been introduced to new funders and partners from across the globe because they took a little time to promote their work in the media.

We understand many colleagues are reluctant to engage in undertaking publicity because of time constraints – but a few moments of your time can help promote the University to a wider audience and enhance your reputation and that of your School or Directorate.

For academics, more and more funders are also making the dissemination of results a key part of any bid for funding. Media Relations will handle all requests, streamline the process and co-ordinate them so as to minimise any interruptions to your time.

When does my work become news?

There are a number of areas when your work becomes ‘news’. These include:

  • Large amount of funding received for a new research project

  • Preliminary or full results are available

  • Findings are about to be presented at a conference/or a paper is about to be published
  • A major event happens e.g. outbreak of bird-flu; upcoming elections

  • Clinical trials are underway or you need to recruit volunteers for a study

  • New appointments/ institutions/partnerships/positions e.g. Institute of Public Health

  • A public event of interest to a wide audience.

My funder/Head of School has asked me to publicise my work. How can I work with the Communications Unit to do this?

Have a look at a daily newspaper and you will see that most of the ‘news’ contained within it does not concern events that happened in the previous 24 hours.

Most of the main print media only keep a few spaces for ‘breaking news’ on their papers each day – with the majority of the articles in the papers prepared two to three days in advance. Likewise for broadcasters, much of their package-based coverage will be prepared at least one day in advance.

A much longer lead-in is also required for those features articles or broadcast stories which may need to be covered by a specialist reporter and which often gain more space in the media.

To deal with the factors mentioned above, and so as to ensure every story is not competing for the same space or airtime, the Communications Unit meets each week to plan a news release schedule for the coming fortnight.

It is important to bear this in mind when requiring publicity for your story as ‘issue dates’ have to be carefully managed and the Unit tries to issue no more than one story per day so colleagues aren’t competing with each other for media coverage.

Please note that requests for publicity without at least three week’s notice may not be able to be covered or may have to wait several days.

This is to prevent them clashing with, or detracting from, stories previously arranged with other colleagues who have given the advance notice required and have arranged their diaries around these dates. It is particularly important when the Communications Unit from partner institutions also have to clear any news release.

There is no such thing as too much notice about an event or publication of a research paper!

Details of any prospective stories/requests for publicity should be emailed to k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk and a Communications Officer will get back to you.

Click here for a short guide to working with the Communications Unit.

What happens after the Communications Unit issues a story about my work? Have you any tips for undertaking publicity?

In most cases the Communications Officer dealing with your story will have arranged media interviews in advance of issuing the news release to a wider audience, so you will have time to prepare for any interviews. Each Communications Officer can also talk you through possible questions from journalists to help you ease into any interviews. When discussing your work/event at the news release preparation stage, let your Communications Officer know of any contentious issues which may pop up.

The key thing to remember is YOU ARE THE EXPERT. You know your area.

Click here  for a link to some practical tips for undertaking media interviews.

If you have any concerns or would rather your Communications Officer be present for any interviews please let them know.

The Communications Unit has an ISDN line studio for undertaking studio-quality radio interviews down the line.

If you would like to use this to take part in any media interviews you have received a request for directly, please call the Communications Unit on 028 9097 3091.

If I don’t have regular research or teaching stories to release, is there anything else I can do to build awareness about my work?

You don’t need to have a story each week to build awareness about your work.

If you feel you would be willing to help the media explain about your area of work in their stories, then please sign up for Queen’s Experts Directory. The Experts Directory is an online, searchable database for those academics willing to spend a few moments talking to journalists, either behind the scenes, or on the record, on current issues. Your out-of-hours contact numbers are only available to Communications Officers. You can sign up by logging onto Queen’s Online and going to the Experts Directory section in My Research.

For the science community in Queen’s who are keen to engage with the national and international media, the Science Media Centre in London also keeps a record of those experts willing to talk to the media. Please email comms.office@qub.ac.uk if you would like further information.