Contacting the Media

The Office Media Relations is responsible for issuing press releases and contacting media outlets on behalf of the University. Press releases often are a collaboration between Public Relations and individual campus communications specialists, but they are released to the media through this office as a means of ensuring consistency in distribution, style, and content, as well as providing a web-based archive of our activities.

What news is worthy of a press release?

Simply put, the information must be sufficiently new and significant so that it would conceivably be of interest to news media, local, regional or national. Recognition of peer accomplishment within the Notre Dame community is a worthy enterprise, but it is not the role of the Office of Public Relations. List-serve e-mails to various university communities, mentions in newsletters, items for Notre Dame Report and bulletin board notices are often more appropriate for this purpose.

How do I get Public Relations to do a release?

Send us your information, preferably by e-mail at least 2-3 weeks before you would like it announced, and we will consult with you on the best options. We are always willing to give you a draft of the release for fact-checking and other suggestions.

What is a “pitch?”

Often, rather than issue a press release, Public Relations tries to interest one or more reporters or editors in pursuing a story. Or, in inviting a faculty expert on a particular program, e.g. an NPR or Lehrer NewsHour broadcast. Whether by phone or e-mail, this is known as a “pitch.” There can be advantages in offering a particular news outlet an “exclusive,” and we have been known to do that. Public Relations stands ready to offer advice to other campus communicators on how to do this.

What about OpEd pieces, can you help?

Absolutely. We have numerous contacts on newspaper oped pages around the country and some notions about what makes a good oped piece. We are happy to offer advice both in the writing and placement. Call or e-mail us.

When is a news conference appropriate?

With the exception of crisis situations, news conferences are becoming increasingly rare. News outlets prefer the chance to do their own exclusive takes on stories. (Often, a news conference is followed by requests for one-on-one interviews with the same people who just spoke.) To be blunt, the best indicator of the need for a news conference is the answer to the question: Will anyone show up? We use our experience and sometimes our contacts to get that answer. When the University does schedule a news conference, the Eck Visitors Center has proved to be a convenient location.

How does Public Relations use the Internet?

Our Web site is designed to attract as many page views as possible and is particularly geared toward helping news media professionals. The faculty experts database has been updated, streamlined, and supplemented with bios of many professors. We will keep adding to this database. Every news release and feature “Spotlight” we put on our site has the potential to become part of the Google database that is used by many journalists and academic researchers.