||||Browse & Search|||||About Us|||||Site Guide|||||Resources|||||Scholars Only|||||Contact Us||||
For Scholars Only
Taking Initiative in Getting News Coverage
You can influence what gets in the news and how it's covered. The simplest way is to write a letter to the editor. You can also try submitting an opinion piece, perhaps even becoming an occasional columnist. Another way is to develop a news relationship with a religion reporter or editor. Your institution's public relations office may also be a good resource.
Letters to the editor are widely read. Writing one is easy if you follow the paper's rules for submission (check the web or where the letters are printed) and keep in mind these tips:
Opinion pieces usually appear on the "Op-Ed" pageshort for opposite the editorial pagebut are also found in other sections on Sundays and in magazines. Be warned: Newspapers get far more opinion pieces than they can print; don't be discouraged if your first attempt is rejected. To better your chances, keep in mind these tips:
Besides printing a well-written and timely opinion piece from someone whom
the newspaper has never published, your newspaper is likely to print opinion
pieces written in rotation by a group of community members, a group the newspaper
sets up. You can try to become a part of the group by writing a member of the
editorial board, briefly expressing your interest and qualifications and enclosing
a sample of your writing (something succinct that's been published by a news
outlet, not a scholarly journal article).
Reporters are always looking for fresh story ideas and good sources. When you have an idea you think is newsworthy, feel free to call a religion reporter. Say in a sentence what you are calling about and ask if you're calling at a good time. Don't be offended if it's notjournalists are often under deadline; simply ask to set a time that would be good.
When you do discuss your idea, be succinct. Determine ahead of time how you can convey the merit of your idea in two minutes. After making your case, pause to give the reporter a chance to respond. If the reporter doesn't initially see your idea as newsworthy, you can make one more, very brief, attempt. But if the reporter remains unconvinced, don't continue to argue; respect that a reporter knows his or her audience. Try another idea another time.
If the reporter does seem to like an idea you suggest, do not call the reporter each day to ask why the story hasn't been published. Journalists often file story ideas for pursuit at a later time, when there is a lull in the number of pressing news events they must write about. And don't expect the reporter to notify you or send you a clip if the story does come out. The continual onrush of deadlines a reporter faces makes that unrealistic. Finally, respect that, just like scholars may not get around to turning every good research idea into a journal article, reporters may not get around to turning every good story idea into a news article.
Another opportunity for developing a relationship can occur when a reporter writes a story relating to your research area but is unaware of your expertise. If so, feel free to call the reporternot to complain about your being omittedbut to let the reporter know of your availability as a source for similar stories in the future. If the reporter missed a significant element of a story, politely point out (but don't lecture about) what was missed.
A valuable resource for stimulating media attention is your institution's public relations office. Its staff can write press releases for you and contact media on your behalf. Additionally, journalists seeking experts often contact them.
Make your PR office aware of your willingness to talk with media about specific areas of your expertise. Give the PR staff your vita and inform them when you publish an article or book. Let them know when you are invited to participate in panels and workshops. Give them clips of newspaper and magazine articles that quote you.
PR staff can also help publicize meetings, workshops or conferences, helping to coordinate media coverage of them and to schedule them in consideration of media deadlines.
Most institutions' PR offices are understaffed; they cannot be aware of all the research projects, articles, interesting courses, etc., that occur. By your taking a few easy steps, your institution's PR staff can better know who you are and steer journalists toward you.
|| Browse & Search | About Us | Site Guide | Resources | Scholars Only | Contact Us ||
by the American Academy of Religion, the
world's largest association of religion scholars. The AAR neither endorses nor
rejects any religious belief or practice.