U News Service staff member Jamie Proulx.
The U News Service wants your news
By Jamie Proulx
From Brief, May 5, 2004
Deane Morrison publicized a story about new faculty research on primates that was published in Nature magazine. Amy Phenix is writing a media plan to advance the president's new academic initiatives. Patty Mattern is busy writing an article for the Children, Youth and Family Consortium newsletter. Bob San just got off the phone with a proud parent who is helping him write a press release about his son's scholarship award. And I am writing a press release for the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. This is a snapshot of what happens daily at the University News Service. Located in Morrill Hall on the Twin Cities campus as part of University Relations, the News Service promotes faculty research, student news, institutional priorities, and university events throughout Minnesota and nationwide.
"It's important that citizens who generously support us understand that the University is a unique and valuable statewide asset." --Amy PhenixNews Service staff are rarely on camera or quoted in the newspaper, but they are responsible for placing hundreds of stories each month on television and radio and in newspapers and magazines. Director Amy Phenix sees the services her office provides as critical to fulfilling the University's land-grant mission. "We are a public university, and we have an obligation and responsibility to share our discoveries and knowledge with the people of Minnesota," says Phenix. "It's important that citizens who generously support us understand that the University is a unique and valuable statewide asset." Finding, developing, and placing stories To achieve this goal, News Service staff work directly with faculty, staff, students, and communications professionals in colleges and administrative units throughout the University system, including Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester, to identify interesting and compelling stories that help the public understand the impact and value of the U. Once a story is identified, News Service staff draw on their knowledge of the media and their collective experience to develop a strategy for placing it. Some stories may be written as press releases. Others will be pitched as feature stories to television, radio, or print media, or offered as exclusives to trade publications. Any of these stories may also be used by other writers in University Relations: Martha Coventry, Gayla Marty, Rick Moore, and Pauline Oo, who write stories for internal publications, such as M, UMNnews, Brief, and eNews. The News Service staff often works with them on story creation. But to reach internal and external media, it is still important to contact the News Service directly. Responding to the media In addition to finding and disseminating the good news about the University, the News Service fields about 100 media calls each month on topics ranging from pension funds to computer viruses to martial arts films. When a reporter is looking for an expert, News Service staff will often contact individual faculty members or administrators on a reporter's behalf. "It is important that we're responsive to incoming media requests because it strengthens our relationships with reporters and reinforces the public's understanding of the breadth and depth of our faculty expertise," says Phenix. "Let us know" What's the most difficult part of the News Service's job? Phenix says it's simply becoming aware of all of the good stories. "There are hundreds of potentially great media stories at the University on any given day, but the News Service doesn't always know about them, or we learn about them too late," Phenix says. "My message to faculty and staff always is to let us know what's going on--too much information is better than too little in our business." To find out more about the News Service, including which staff person works with your college or unit, go to http://www.unews.umn.edu, call 612-624-5551, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Campus news services In addition to the Twin Cities office, individuals in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester work are dedicated to media relations work.
- Crookston: Andrew Svec, ASvec@mail.crk.umn.edu
- Duluth: Susan Beasy Latto, email@example.com
- Morris: Judy Riley , firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rochester: Jay Hesley, email@example.com