Media Relations Procedures
Because the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a public university, the institution has a responsibility to encourage the open exchange of ideas as well as the dissemination of accurate and transparent information. As the media is an essential element of open dialogue, UW Oshkosh has established these media policies to provide guidance in fostering an ethical and transparent relationship with the media.
The Chancellor serves as the official spokesperson for the University regarding significant matters of policy and public interest. Depending on specific issues, the Chancellor or his/her designee may designate another member of the administration or staff to serve as an official University spokesperson on a specific issue.
Integrated Marketing and Communications is responsible for the distribution of all news releases, except for those relating to Athletics. As part of the institution’s integrated marketing and communications policy, faculty and staff should not distribute news releases independently.
WORKING WITH THE NEWS TEAM
The media frequently contact Integrated Marketing and Communications with requests for information about UW Oshkosh. Often those requests require the University’s news team to contact various faculty and staff members to obtain that information. Your partnership and cooperation in responding to those requests is vital for us to provide a timely response and is appreciated.
FACULTY and STAFF
Faculty and staff are encouraged to speak to reporters on matters related to their areas of expertise, such as their research, scholarship, teaching or professional experience. However, faculty and staff are asked to notify Integrated Marketing and Communications as soon as possible following contact from the media. Notifying the Integrated Marketing and Communications office is important if follow-up requests are made with other University faculty or staff to ensure a coordinated University response. Additionally, such notifications allow the University to track media placement. A convenient form has been created to aid in your notification of IMC.
Reporters should always be referred to Integrated Marketing and Communications if a reporter seeks information on a topic that deals with issues of University-wide significance and/or are of a controversial or sensitive nature. Additionally, faculty and staff should notify Integrated Marketing and Communications immediately about issues they may be aware of that have the potential to generate media inquiries or interest.
Personnel records and proceedings and student records and health care information remain confidential as prescribed by law and, thus, are not subject to public disclosure. Employees should direct all questions about confidentiality of information to either the Executive Director of Integrated Marketing and Communications or the Associate Director, News and Public Information, who will consult University of Wisconsin System Legal Counsel for expert advice.
The following guidelines provide best practices for working with the media when the issue is non-controversial and related to the faculty/staff member's area of expertise:
Request the name of the reporter, his/her media organization and contact information. Notify Integrated Marketing and Communications by calling (920) 424-2442 or emailing email@example.com as soon as possible after an interview. Include the reporter’s contact information and, if known, when the story is expected to be printed or broadcast.
Honesty and timeliness are best when working with the media. Return messages as soon as possible if you receive a voicemail or e-mail. If you find that you cannot respond immediately, consider asking a colleague or the associate director, news and public information, to return the call if appropriate.
When contacted by a reporter, one should be aware that:
Nothing is ever “off the record.” Anything you say could be quoted. Avoid sharing “off the record” or “background” information if you do not wish for such information to be published or attributed to you.
Limit your responses to areas within your area of expertise or responsibility.
Be collegial with regard to colleagues or other institutions or organizations.
When contacted by telephone unexpectedly, you can ask for time to prepare a response.
Never answer with “no comment.”
Be sure you understand a reporter’s question before answering. If you feel you cannot answer or are uncomfortable, tell the reporter that someone who can provide the information will contact him/her as soon as possible. At that point, contact Integrated Marketing and Communications with your concerns and the contact information for the reporter.
Never “guess” or speculate when asked a question. While it is important not to underestimate a reporter’s intelligence, make sure the reporter understands your responses. Be willing to provide your phone number and/or e-mail address for follow-up questions.
Remember that in responding to the media, you can be seen as representing and speaking for the University. Personal opinions should be clearly and carefully identified as such.
Issues that should immediately be referred to the associate director, news and public information, include: 1) legal issues, 2) personnel issues, 3) questions that involve college integrity, such as ethics or issues, that may result in harm to others, or 4) a campus crisis or emergency.
A crisis situation can have a lasting impact on a university’s image and reputation. Therefore, it is important that we relay information to the media in a crisis situation with extreme care.
When information is released, every effort must be made to avoid misunderstanding, misinterpretation or confusion. Once a misconception takes root, it is difficult and often impossible to make a full correction.
In the event of a major crisis on campus, it is essential that an effective communications plan be put into effect to disseminate timely, accurate information and to ensure that inquiries are routed to the appropriate sources.
DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION
Integrated Marketing and Communications, working in conjunction with campus leadership, is responsible for developing and distributing all UW Oshkosh communications during a campus emergency. Such communications may include internal communication with students, faculty and staff as well as interactions with the media. During a crisis, Integrated Marketing and Communications will place priority on communicating with the media and will provide complete, accurate and confirmed information about the emergency situation and the University’s response.
In the event of an emergency, the UW Oshkosh website will be used to update the campus and the public with details about the situation and the University’s response.
In the event of a widespread campus incident/disaster, a media center may be established. The media center may provide workspace for reporters, power, telephones, Internet connection, campus and community directories and maps. A communication information center also may be established if a high volume of incoming phone calls are expected.
During a campus emergency faculty, staff and students have a right to not speak with the media. The media has access only to the public areas. Any situations where individuals feel a reporter has abused their rights should be reported to the Executive Director of IMC.
STUDENT INFORMATION DISCLOSURE POLICY
IMC is the only office authorized to release information about students or employees to the media. Under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has designated the following categories of student information as "directory information" and may disclose it to the media:
Exception: Rape and sexual assault victim's information will not be disclosed.
• Telephone number(s)
• E-mail address
• Date and place of birth
• Major field of study
• Dates of attendance
• Full-time/part-time status
• Degrees and awards received
• Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
• Height and weight of members of athletic teams
• The most recent previous education agency or institution attended by the student
Students are entitled to request that any or all information about them not be made publicly available. IMC will check with Student Affairs to ensure a student's information can be released.
In cases where the media has inquired about a student who has been arrested, the University will disclose the above information and refer all other questions to the arresting police department.
EMPLOYEE INFORMATION DISCLOSURE POLICY
If a University employee is arrested for on- or off-campus activities, IMC will work with the Office of Human Resources to draft a release if appropriate. IMC will refer questions about the case to the arresting police department.
Media Relations After-Hours Hotline
Cell: (920) 267-0628