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

Strategic Marketing & 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 SF State 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.

Please tell us about any significant awards or grants won by faculty.

Whether it’s teaching science to underprivileged children or developing an online network to boost community involvement, outreach programs often make news.

A new class on hip-hop music or a field course to test for soil toxins in local neighborhood might be the kinds of unique activities that interest journalists.

A new play, book, film, dance or other creative endeavor, especially with a timely edge or student involvement, may attract arts and entertainment writers.

New programs are sometimes newsworthy, but usually only if they are linked to social issues or emerging industries. 

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 identify outlets you may want to contact.

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, Strategic Marketing & Communications 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 SF State 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 SF State’s website. If you go to the Faculty Experts page, you’ll find an alphabetical listing of subjects often in the news. Linked to them are SF State faculty experts, able to offer media specialized knowledge in these areas. Topics on the page range from aging and HIV to weather and women’s iIssues.

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 email message. We look forward to working with you!