Working with the media

The Office of Media Relations can assist you at any time with communicating with reporters, publicizing a story or responding to a media call. The following information is intended to help you when you are asked to work with the media on behalf of Carleton. Please contact Helen Clarke Ebert, director of public relations and media, (507) 222-4183 if you have any questions.

Working with the media

Whenever possible, we will ask your permission before we forward a reporter to you. Sometimes, however, a reporter may call you directly. In either case, there are a few general guidelines you should follow to effectively communicate with the reporter.

  • Respond promptly to requests
    Even if you intend to decline the request or refer the reporter to the Office of Media Relations (which you may always do), respond promptly. Reporters operate on tight deadlines from a few hours to several days, and not respecting those deadlines will damage Carleton's credibility with the news media.
  • Ask for the reporter's name and media outlet
    It is also acceptable to ask reporters about the type and angle of the story they are pursuing, and when they expect it to be published or aired.
  • Be prepared
    If you aren't prepared to talk on the spot, tell the reporter you will call them back, then follow through on that promise. Have a short list of points or messages you want to convey. Be brief and concise, and stop talking when you've made your point.
  • Be patient
    Some reporters will know a great deal about the subject; others may not. You can help a reporter tell the story accurately by suggesting what you believe is important. If you do not know the answer to a reporter's question, say so, then offer to find the answer for them, or refer them to an appropriate spokesperson.
  • Don't go off-the-record
    Anything you say could be quoted, though only a portion will likely be used. Avoid saying "no comment," which implies you have something to hide. Instead, refer the reporter to another source or to the Office of Media Relations.

Why news coverage is important to Carleton

Carleton has stories to tell—exciting new programs and classes, outstanding achievements by students and faculty, and newsworthy lectures and events.

Every time Carleton is mentioned in the news, the visibility of the college is enhanced. By keeping people accurately informed of Carleton's mission and values, we are fostering an understanding of and support for the campus. Sometimes the events of campus make their way to media outlets without our help, but more often, Carleton is featured in news stories due to the efforts of our office.

What makes news?

A story must be timely or say something new about a topic that has been covered before, and must be somewhat unique in order to catch an editor's eye or ear.

If you have an idea for a Carleton-related story that might be of interest to the news media, let us know. We will evaluate the story idea and pitch it to appropriate news outlets. However, keep in mind that whether a story appears in the news ultimately depends on the decision of the editor or producer of that media outlet.

It is never too early to contact the Office of Media Relations about a potential news story. We need time to contact campus sources and prepare the information for distribution to the news media. In order to adequately publicize an event, we should be informed at least three weeks prior to the event to meet calendar listing deadlines.

For news stories concerning faculty, staff, or student awards, presentations, grants, projects, research, or other accomplishments, please notify the Office of Media Relations as soon as the information is known.