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Category Archives: Media

The Media and You (Part 2) – How Can You Make Me a Star?

blog post

‘Tis a little known fact that once you’ve written for the GRS Blog you get a hankering* to write for us again.  Fiona Clarkson from Marketing and Communications explained the importance of the considering using the media to share your research in this post.  This week she explains how to do it.

*By hankering I mean one of us usually harasses/begs/bribes you to do do it again for us. 

If you’ve given it some thought and decided that yes, media attention for your research would be a positive thing, then I have good news for you – several pieces in fact!

The first is that the University of Otago has a Communications Team whose job it is to talk to the media and get their attention. They are not at all scary to approach, and can help you sort out what the media will want, and how to talk to them. Before you start, however, it’d be a smart idea to think about the answers to the following questions – these are what the Communications Team will want to know, and what the media will want too.

To be blunt, the first question you need to answer is, “who cares?” Why is your research important to the general public? Does it change someone’s life? Improve their life? Add value to it? Uncover or explain new or historic information? Is it quirky? Relevant to a current public issue? Involve glow-in-the-dark pigs?

Despite there seeming to be an endless amount of news everywhere you look, news real estate is actually precious and the news media are looking for something which will attract a wide audience – it pays to think to yourself, why would that school teacher, or the little old lady in South Dunedin, or the young millennial care?

The next questions are the age-old basic journalism questions: who, what, why, when, where and how. Getting these ducks in a row will make it easier to compile a media release, or make a pitch to a media outlet.

Once you have attracted media attention, more good news! The Communications Team can also help you with  one on one training on how to talk to the media and what not to do. Their tips include being prepared with your facts and figures before an interview, considering a photogenic location, and perhaps doing some practice with a friend.

One important thing to consider is what are the risks? Is your topic in any way controversial? Once the media have spoken to you, who else might the media  approach and what would that group or person say? You shouldn’t let that put you off necessarily – good news number three is that we can help you through this slightly more tricky process as well as the positive side.

As outlined in my previous blog piece, there are lots of really great reasons for a postgraduate student to want to get media attention for their work. So don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call. Modesty is not the way to win at this particular game, and we in Marketing and Communications know there are so many awesome “stories” out there in postgraduate research that we would love to help you share.

Fiona Clarkson,  Postgraduate Marketing and Communications Coordinator