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Tips and Best Practices: Media Relations Skills and Tactics

For the past 30+ years, journalists at the annual College Media Conference, hosted by the Council of Independent Colleges and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, have shared tips and best practices for campus PR pros to gain coverage for their institutions. This series of blog posts highlights the advice of journalists and PR experts on “Perfecting Your Pitch,” “Social Media Tips and Best Practices,” “Pitching Science Reporters,” and “Crisis Communications Best Practices,” and ends with a short post on “Journalists’ Pet Peeves.”


Crisis Communications

Follow best practices in communicating during a crisis.

From Nancy Seideman, associate vice president for media relations at Emory University: Crisis communication strategies that the university used while in the global spotlight for treating Ebola patients included:

  • Establish and update protocols;
  • Conduct drills;
  • Determine and adhere to key messages;
  • Prepare spokespeople before interviews;
  • Plan visuals in advance;
  • Ask for extra staff when needed; and
  • Establish a relationship with an outside PR firm in advance, in case they are needed as back up.


Study core crisis communications principles.

From Cathy Andreen and Shane Dorrill at the University of Alabama: Lessons learned when tornadoes hit the campus town of Tuscaloosa:

  • Send early alert messages and frequent updates;
  • Use various tools to get the message out;
  • Leverage the university’s homepage;
  • Educate faculty, staff, and students about the issues; and
  • Test the university’s alert system monthly
Laura Wilcox