Media Relations Support
Santa Clara University has an impressive story to tell. We are home to exemplary students, global thought leaders, and trusted sources in all fields.
Working Effectively with the Media
By strategically sharing our stories throughout popular media, we increase the University’s visibility, enhance its reputation, and demonstrate its unique value among our key audiences.
The SCU Media and Internal Communications team offers advice and support for gaining media coverage on our newsworthy programs, students, and faculty—in print, online, in the news, and through social channels.
Learn to inform and engage key audiences with the following Media and Internal Communications roadmap:
Developing a Media Plan
Developing a strategic media plan is the first step to successfully promoting your story, whether it’s an event, program, project, new initiative, or SCU community member who can offer expertise on newsworthy topics and developments.
Media and Internal Communications will assist you with developing a media plan that may include:
- Establishing media relations goals and identifying targeted media to serve your constituencies.
- Setting and monitoring media timelines for your project.
- Identifying and updating media contacts.
- Tracking your media plan to the goals outlined in SCU's Integrated Strategic Plan.
- Assisting with writing op-eds, press releases, and FAQs for your department and its programs.
CAMPUS EMERGENCIES: In the event of a campus emergency, Media and Internal Communications will work with you and your department to develop a media plan to coordinate information, develop backgrounders, and identify departments and constituents across Santa Clara University who can proactively assist in such an emergency.
Communicating with the Media
The Media and Internal Communications team handles and advises on all aspects of media communication, including:
- Press Releases. Writing press releases and sending them to key media contacts via e-mail and Business Wire. Press releases, designed to convey newsworthy information to the media in a timely manner, are also posted on the SCU News & Events webpage.
- News Alerts. Preparation and distribution of news alerts. These are brief releases designed to suggest story topics and sources for the news media, and to alert them about upcoming events.
- Media Interviews. Handling media contacts and assisting with scheduling, preparing, or training SCU for media interviews. See the Preparing for Media Interviews section below for additional guidelines and tips.
- Story Pitches. Suggesting story ideas to personal contacts with local, regional and national news media. These are initiated by media relations staff or in response to inquiries from media.
- SCU Experts. Pitching feature story ideas and recommending faculty "experts" to media around breaking news events and trends. See Experts for the Media for a complete list of faculty contacts.
- Press Conferences. Arranging press conferences, briefings, or other meetings and interactions with news media.
- Monitoring mentions of Santa Clara University and its community throughout the news media.
- Tracking media coverage of an SCU-related event.
Preparing for Media Interviews
Reporters often directly contact SCU experts for interviews and to serve as credible sources on breaking news.
If you are contacted by the media. Before committing to a media interview or answering any questions on the spot, let the reporter know you’d first like to clarify a number of things about his/her request. More than likely, time is of the essence, but avoid jumping in without adequate preparation.
Understand the scope of the request. Digest all of the pertinent details to determine whether the interview is in your best interests and that of the University.
Commit with a clear goal in mind. Respond to the reporter after you have a firm understanding of the following parameters and have made a decision on whether to take part in the interview.
- Reporter's name, with correct spelling, and his/her direct phone number and email address.
- Name of publication, newspaper, or news station.
- Interview topic and the story the reporter plans to generate.
- A clear definition of your role in this story.
- Whether this will be a telephone interview or an in-person interview, and if either will be tape-recorded.
- Where the interview will take place.
- When the story will run and in what section of the news show or newspaper it will appear.
- What the reporter's deadline is, and when is the latest he/she can speak with or interview you.
Need help? For those who are in any way uncomfortable with or concerned about talking to a reporter, please contact the Media and Internal Communications team for assistance.
A FEW TIPS TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR AN INTERVIEW:
Practice.Prepare two or three key points you want to get across, and have data, anecdotes, or examples to highlight each one. Be sure to make these points during the interview, even if the reporter doesn't ask about them.
Help the reporter. A reporter may not know as much as you think about the subject under discussion or being covered in the news. Minimize errors, and offer background information on complex topics.
Never say “No comment.” Nothing is off the record during or after the interview.
After the interview. If you believe the published story or news coverage was well done, compliment the reporter via email or telephone.
Best Practices for Writing an Op-Ed
What is an op-ed?
An op-ed (originally short for “opposite the editorial page”) is an article designed to express an opinion in a clear and persuasive way.
Regional and national publishing outlets may include newspapers, such as the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and online commentary sites like The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, and CNN.
Why should you invest time in writing an op-ed?
Members of the SCU community often have compelling and interesting opinions to share. A well-written op-ed having great reach can establish the writer as an expert on a particular topic and may even reshape public perceptions and policy. You may earn media recognition for your area of expertise, your scholarship, your department, and Santa Clara University.
How and where do you place an op-ed?
Timely placement of op-eds can be competitive and selective. Faculty or staff who have an interest in writing an op-ed for the mainstream news outlets should contact the Media and Internal Communications team for assistance with placing the piece.
THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES WILL HELP YOU CRAFT AN EFFECTIVE OP-ED:
- Follow the news and choose a topic. An op-ed can be satirical, lighthearted, or serious, but the subject must appeal to a broad audience. Sources for ideas include breaking news, pending legislation, historical anniversaries, and trends.
- Have a news hook. Tying your piece to an event, new research findings, or a debate will increase your chances of publication. If you are an expert on ethics in government, consider writing an op-ed when your city leadership changes. If your scholarship has focused on water conservation, you might write an op-ed on the newest techniques to alleviate the severe drought in California.
- Take a stand. Op-eds are designed to express an opinion. Take a position on an issue, and be prepared to defend it. Avoid the tendency to provide background and explain all sides of an issue. Rather than arguing an obvious position, such as, teenagers should spend less time on mobile devices, taking a contrary approach can sometimes help your op-ed get published.
- Make a specific recommendation. Again, this is an opinion piece. State your opinion on how to improve or change the situation.
- Know that timing is crucial. Most editors assign and choose op-eds weeks before the event. So think ahead of the curve. If you want to write an op-ed on why the United States is a sleep-deprived country, National Sleep Awareness week in March might make a good tie-in. But the op-ed will need to be written by February, so that editors at several publications have an opportunity to read it.
- Keep it brief. In general, newspaper op-eds run between 700 to 800 words. Newspapers have limited space to offer, and editors normally won’t take the time to trim an article to size. If you have an idea and are struggling to condense it, please reach out to the Media and Internal Communications team for assistance.
- Draw the reader in. Your first paragraph should draw in the reader by using a dramatic vignette or a well-stated argument. End with a bang. Your closing paragraph is as important as your opening paragraph.
- Avoid jargon. Writing an op-ed is very different from academic writing. Op-eds run in publications and on websites that are designed for all audiences. Use simple language, avoiding legalese or academese.
- Understand your audience. Read the papers and online outlets that you would like to reach. If you see your topic addressed on the editorial page, it is unlikely for them to carry another op-ed on the same issue. A point-of-view contrary to prevailing public opinion or a published piece will improve chances of your op-ed being published.
- Relax and have fun. An op-ed does not have to be serious and solemn. You might have a better chance at publication if you have some fun and go with a light-hearted topic.
- Use examples. Illustrations, anecdotes, and personal stories are persuasive tools. They help explain and bring complicated issues to life, and serve to support your op-ed.
- Expand the reach of your op-ed on social media. After the op-ed is published, extend its reach by sharing it on Facebook and tweeting about it. See our Social Media guidelines section for additional tips and info.
- Leverage your op-ed on the SCU website home page. Alert the Media and Internal Communications team about the op-ed, to have your piece showcased on the University home page as well as leveraged through Santa Clara University social channels.
SCU Experts / Media Sources
Members of the news media often call on University officials or faculty experts to serve as sources for relevant stories.
Visit the SCU Faculty Experts for the Media page, where searches can be conducted by topic/category or keyword.
For further assistance in locating SCU experts to comment on news stories—or to have your name added to this list—please contact the Media and Internal Communications team.