5 Steps to Build a Faculty Expert Program

Are your faculty members ready for their close-up?

An in-house media training program can help prepare faculty members for interviews, cultivate good relationships with media and garner news coverage that advances the university research.

In the latest issue of Currents, Eric Eckert, assistant director of media communications for faculty development at Baylor University, explained how Baylor has focused on recruiting and training faculty experts. Here are his tips.

Brooke Blevins KXXV

1. Identify faculty whose research is relatable.

Some research simply doesn’t translate well beyond an academic journal. Trust your instincts and news judgment. Keep your institution’s mission and academic strengths in mind, and pinpoint professors who are producing research that can be made relevant to people’s lives. It’s OK to be selective.

2. Pursue quality over quantity.

Working with the media isn’t for everyone. When starting a faculty experts program, approach faculty members who already have media experience and are comfortable speaking to the media.

Next, seek active researchers who are publishing or studying interesting topics worth sharing. Set up a meeting. Build rapport. Share the vision for the program and explain how it can help gain attention for their work. Gauge their interest. If they’re ready to participate, sign them up for a media training session.

3. Prepare faculty members to work with journalists. 

Baylor’s media team hosts two trainings for faculty members each year. In trainings, the team:

  • Outlines the news cycle;
  • Explains the ins and outs of in-person, online and phone interviewing;
  • Shares tips for responding to questions; and
  • Offers on-camera training sessions in which faculty members can practice what they’ve learned.

4. Share faculty successes.

Baylor rewards faculty members’ media efforts by communicating the results to the university’s audiences. A daily email highlighting media coverage of Baylor and its people goes out to the university’s president, board members, administrators, deans, department chairs, and other stakeholders. It also spotlights faculty who have made headlines in its magazine and on its blog.

5. Deliver results. 

Baylor’s editorial team works to secure solid opportunities for faculty members to be interviewed, mining journalists’ queries, crafting pitches to reporters and writing news articles to attract attention to faculty experts. When the editorial team develops stories, it begins with the list of faculty experts.

Read the full story, “Are Your Professors Ready for Their Close-Up?,” in Currents for more strategies, examples and tips to cultivate faculty experts.


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