FAQs For Faculty & Staff
We on the UMBC news team are dedicated to sharing the university’s stories—your stories. We tell audiences both on and off campus about the achievements of UMBC faculty and students, about your expertise and your experiences.
Maybe you’ve come to this page because you have a story and aren’t sure what to do with it. Maybe you’ve received a call from a reporter and are looking for some guidance. Maybe you want to share your knowledge with the wider world. Or maybe you’re just curious about what we do.
Whatever brought you here, we hope you leave with a better understanding of how our office works and a desire to partner with us in telling your part of the UMBC story.
What types of stories are you looking for?
If something interests you, it will probably interest us; we always want you to err on the side of sending us more information, rather than less. In particular, we’re always looking for stories about students’ experiences, cutting-edge research and innovative approaches to education. You should also let us know about faculty accomplishments, especially if they can be tied to an “event” such as the publication of a book or paper. For the media, we’re especially looking for stories about trends in higher education, in research or in your fields of expertise. The more far-reaching the potential impact, the better.
Whenever possible, tell us about a potential story sooner rather than later. The ideal time frame for notifying us of something you have coming up is a couple of months in advance. For example, if we know that you are going to announce research findings, we might be able to coordinate news coverage for the day of the announcement (which is when the media is most likely to be interested). However, it’s never too late to tell us your story.
What will you do with my story?
Once we hear about your story, we’ll probably want to meet with you to learn more. When we meet we can discuss the best options for sharing your story. Some stories will be of interest to the university community, but not necessarily the broader news media. We might share these stories on Insights, the UMBC homepage, UMBC Magazine, or our news page. If your story is likely to generate interest off-campus, we might also pitch it to external news media. These outlets range from local online-only publications to the evening news to The New York Times. Often we will share your story in a combination of ways—for example, by posting a release on our news site that we then use to pitch to the external media. We can also discuss ways to share your story through social media.
How does the pitch process work?
Before pitching your story, we will speak with you to answer any questions you have about working with the media. We may also solicit your help in identifying discipline-specific news outlets that would be particularly interested in your topic. Knowing where you hope to see your story will help us better target our efforts. If we are writing a news release about your story, we will work with you to ensure accuracy.
Before we pitch any story, we will walk you through what you can expect when working with the media. But briefly, this is how the process works:
When we are ready to pitch your story, we will share a brief summary of your story and your contact information with the media. It’s important that you be available to the media following the pitch and that you check your email and voicemail messages frequently during this time.
Once the pitch is out, we wait for a response and follow up with reporters we think would be especially interested. If a reporter does get in touch, you don’t necessarily need to answer questions right away. It’s okay to schedule a time to talk—just keep in mind that the news cycle moves quickly.
When the story is published it may look different than our pitch letter or release, but this is normal. Reporters will frequently develop a story based on the interest of their audience and editors, and they often work under time and space constraints. For more on what to expect and how to follow up with a reporter after a story is published, please contact the UMBC news team.
What do I do if I want to share my expertise with the media?
Our office provides faculty experts to journalists seeking information and opinions on a range of topics. We share experts with the media in a few ways:
If you have expertise on a current issue, we may want to include you in a tip sheet. These are lists of faculty members with expertise in a topic currently in the news. Past tip sheets have covered issues such as same-sex marriage, the future of the humanities and aging.
We might want to highlight your expertise on our Talking Heads blog. If so, we would create a short video of you talking about your work, post it on the blog and share it with the media. These brief, accessible videos are intended to appeal to public audiences who might not be familiar with your research area.
Finally, you can become an expert simply by letting us know that you’re available and which issues you feel comfortable commenting on. It is always helpful for us to have a list of reliable experts on hand for when a journalist calls.
If you are interested in a more hands-on approach, we can help you set up informational interviews with journalists. We can also help you write and pitch op-eds that will catch an editor’s attention. If you’re interested in either of these options, please contact our office.
I have a message from a reporter—what should I do?
If you aren’t sure how to respond, please call our office and we can discuss a response with you. We can also provide some quick tips for talking to the press.
If you want to respond it’s important to return the call as quickly as possible, even if you aren’t ready to comment. If you are comfortable discussing the topic immediately, feel free to answer any questions during your first conversation. However, if you’d prefer having extra time to collect your thoughts, you should use your first call to ask the following questions:
What is your story about?
Finding out exactly what the reporter is looking for will allow you to better prepare for the interview.
What is your deadline?
Asking when the deadline is shows the reporter that you understand that they work on a tight schedule, and that you will work within that schedule.
Can we make an appointment to talk?
Setting up an appointment—even for later the same afternoon—shows the reporter that you are committed to talking with them while giving you time to prepare for the interview.
Remember that the goal is to have a mutually beneficial relationship with a reporter: if you help them to understand your field, they can help you attain public recognition for your work.