I asked Dick Jones of Dick Jones Communications to step in with a guest post. He responded with this excellent piece of advice.
With drastic cutbacks in news rooms, and the journalists who are left required to do more and more work, media requests are assuming a greater role in college media relations.
How we respond to media requests can make all of the difference. Media relations is an art, not a science. Every “rule” has its exception that proved to be successful sometime, someplace. Nonetheless, there is a rule about media requests which, if followed, generally yields more results than if not followed.
Use quotes. Quotes give the journalist an idea of the direction of your source’s thinking. They separate your expert from the pack. It is often not enough simply to give the name, title, contact info, and a line or two about the professor’s credentials or a link to the prof’s website. Quotes often make the difference between your source being interviewed for the story or not. While the primary role of quotes is to be the catalyst for that all-important interview, we are finding that they have another function in this era of downsized newsrooms. Sometimes, news outlets use the quotes verbatim, occasionally without taking the time to interview the professor. In such cases, the journalist usually will ask, “Can I use this quote?”
Generally, quotes are less necessary in local media relations than in national media relations. If the local journalist knows and trusts you and your institution, it may not be necessary for you to gather quotes to bolster your case. You can simply say, “Contact Bill Smith in the history department” and be confident that the journalist will do so.
The need to use quotes in responses to media requests is proportional to how well you know the journalist and how well he or she knows you or your institution. But using quotes never hurts.
My thanks to Dick and if anyone has any thoughts or experiences around this, let me know.