Jennifer Doak is the online communications specialist at CASE.
You probably know this already, but CASE members have some
pretty good ideas. I sat in on the Conference for Media Relations
Professionals, held in February in Washington, D.C., and learned about how
public relations and communications folks are navigating shifts in the news
Here are some ways two of them—Jennifer Donovan, director of public relations at Michigan Tech, and Liz Amore, executive director for alumni relations at the University of Miami —further the reach of their institution’s research:
- Crowdfunding. This is a great way to get the general public interested in your institution’s research, particularly for small, high-quality programs that
might otherwise slip through the cracks. “People get more interested in research when they give $5 or $10 to a researcher,” said Donovan. Check out Michigan Tech’s crowdfunding site, Superior Ideas.
- Establish mutually beneficial relationships. Amore suggested offering exclusives—for
example, a pitch made to The New York Times on gratitude, timed with the holidays, was very successful. She also suggested offering volunteer professors as expert bloggers for publications like the Huffington Post.
- Be the news source. A proactive newsroom with B-roll (footage, usually without sound, that provides context to your story), high-res images, video and a dedicated social media presence, can help your institution become an information source for the broader community—and make it easier for reporters to craft high-quality articles. Videos of professors show media outlets that your
experts are camera-ready, added Amore.
- Partnering. Hooking up with other organizations on research initiatives can help your faculty get publicity through a wider network of media outlets. Michigan Tech worked with the National Science Foundation on a series of workshops, which were featured on NSF’s website—and eventually picked up by U.S. News & World Report. Highlighting relevant content to organizations via Twitter can also be an effective way to garner visibility for your professors.
Here’s another suggestion not mentioned in the session: Nominate your institution’s professors for awards. Award-winning faculty members are newsworthy and can draw positive attention to institutions. For example, CASE’s 2012 U.S. Professors of the Year award winners received extensive news coverage, even several months after the awards ceremony, and are often invited to speak at conferences and other events. Check out the award’s impact on 2012 national winner Autar Kaw, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida.