For many academic leaders, relating to the media can be a new and sometimes daunting experience. Most institutions have a public relations staff that organizes and manages public appearances and media interactions. Individual faculty members are involved only when their expertise is needed. Institutional leaders, however, are expected to be knowledgeable about most if not all of the school’s programs and to be able to communicate with the school’s constituents as needed.
Use interactions with the media as opportunities to promote your institution or academic unit. Many new administrators have never had the experience of interacting with the media. Most reporters are pleasant and accommodating. They are only interested in getting information about a particular topic so that they can meet a deadline, whether it is in the print or electronic media. In most communities, the reporters certainly don’t want to alienate you because they know that they may want more information later on the same or another subject and that they will need your cooperation. Rarely will you encounter an investigative reporter, one who is looking for specific information about a sensitive or legal issue. In the latter situation, you are more likely to be “ambushed” with difficult questions during a press conference or walking from one location to another. Fortunately, this seldom happens. But remember, the media will tell the story with or without you, and the story without you is less likely to include your key messages. The following are pearls that may be helpful when interacting with the media and others outside the institution. By the way, don’t expect reporters to compliment you on your response to their questions. Most of the time, they are interested only in your saying something for the record, not necessarily what you said or how you said it.
KeywordsPublic Relation Academic Leader Institutional Leader Academic Unit Individual Faculty Member
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