WOU: Public Relations - Publicity Guidelines

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University Communications

Public relations guidelines

Realistic expectations
We recognize that the news media are not in the business of promoting the university, and that their dissemination of our information to their readers on such things as programs, activities, or cultural events is done as a public service.

It is important to know that the public relations office has no control over which stories are used and how they are used. While we make every effort to assure that all stories, interviews and public statements are accurate, we also have no control over the accuracy of a reporter’s or editor’s use of the information. According to journalistic ethics, we never ask to review a story before it runs.

Types of news
The Office of Public Relations works with faculty, staff and students across campus to generate publicity. News comes in a variety of ways: events, groundbreaking research, services, appointments or elections to national organizations, outstanding accomplishments, etc. There is no strict definition to what is and isn’t newsworthy. We encourage you to send us anything you believe to be newsworthy and we can work together to ensure it’s appealing to the media. Remember, there are a variety of ways to get news other than the standard news release.

Campus public relations
There are two mediums available to increase awareness on campus – the online calendar and WOU Bulletin. The online calendar is reserved specifically for events. Any event should be submitted to the calendar at least three weeks prior to the event date, which gives the public relations office ample time to submit the information to local media as well as time for the campus community to notice it on the calendar.

The WOU Bulletin is a bi-weekly online newsletter that is sent via listserv to faculty, staff and students. It is also posted online in multiple locations. The regular sections include news, events, athletics, sesquicentennial and kudos. We encourage submission of any announcements, events or other happenings on campus or relating to faculty, staff and students. We reserve the final decision as to publication.

Local/regional public relations
Most of the local newspapers and several radio stations are open to receiving news releases from WOU. In addition to news releases, the Statesman Journal has an online events submission calendar that the public relations office includes in publicity campaigns.

In order to have a news release prepared and distributed by the public relations office, we request that you submit a news release request form. For events specifically, we ask that you submit the news release request form at least three weeks prior to the event. Most newspapers expect to receive event news releases two weeks prior to an event, which then gives the public relations office one week to write the news release and have it approved by you.

If your news is a “just happened/emergency” announcement or happening, please call the public relations director at 503-838-8803 or the public relations specialist at 503-838-8163 to find out the best way to send the information. If you plan to make an announcement soon, please submit the news release request form right away. If you don’t have all the details set, let us know anyway so we can plan with you.

National public relations
If you have completed some exciting research, have just been nominated or elected to a national position or have another outstanding accomplishment/announcement, the public relations office will work with you to try and get national attention. We can find publications and other media outlets on a national level that would be best to target. If you would like to target a magazine, keep in mind that many have lead times between three and six months.

The public relations office subscribes to a news service that includes reporters posting requests for contacts on a wide range of topic. These daily alerts are thoroughly reviewed and if any of these topics fit with work being done on campus, or an on-campus expert, we will make contact. We also tie our public relations efforts into national issues and will work with those on campus who are knowledgeable on those topics to get WOU’s voice out there.

Please fill out the news release request form and the public relations office will contact you to determine a good communications strategy.

Opinion pieces
We’ll be happy to work with you on placing opinion pieces. Please feel free to contact us for editorial advice as well.

Here are some tips for success:
1. Coordinate with the Office of Public Relations to create and distribute opinion pieces (Op Ed).
2. Write about a timely issue that directly relates to your area of expertise.
3. Don’t summarize two sides of an issue’ pick a side and convince the reader.
4. Make your point in the first paragraph and maintain that single theme or idea throughout.
5. Write to a broad audience using simple words, short sentences and paragraphs, and no jargon.
6. Highlight your expertise when it fits so readers take your views more seriously.
7. Include facts and statistics to back up your opinion as often as possible and cite examples.
8. Express a strong call to action.
9. Keep Op Ed to 600 words or less.
10. Write a descriptive, but brief, headline that will catch an editor’s attention.


Publications and Creative Services 503-838-8349 | or e-mail: visuanod@wou.edu

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