Tips for Getting and Giving Great PR

The Office of Public Relations is the official liaison between the university and the media. All university-related correspondence with the media should be routed through our office. Not only does this help us track university coverage and fine tune our public relations efforts for maximum effect, it gives our office the opportunity to provide internal communicators the best resources available and promotes consistency and accuracy in reporting externally about JSU.

Below are some tips to help you promote your department, program or event. If you need assistance, please feel free to contact our office via e-mail, phone (256) 782-5636 or drop by 301 Bibb Graves Hall.

Working with the Office of Public Relations

Constant contact
We have a good problem at JSU. Our growing student body, the quality of our programs and our level of faculty expertise are outpacing the manpower in our Office of Public Relations! Because good university communications grows from the inside out, we are counting on each individual on our campus to be our eyes and ears, and to notify us when there are events and news happening on campus. 

Use your resources
The Office of Public Relations has established relationships with the media and we have access to a large database of contacts and publications. We also use a variety of social media networks that allow real-time updates. We can help your message get into the right hands, often in a very small amount of time.

Plan ahead
As soon as you have the basic information about your event, fill out a communications request form. Media outlets must have time to plan coverage, and we want to do everything we can to assist them. We highly recommend information be submitted two weeks in advance. When you submit information, please make certain that you have contact information available in case our office or the media would like to interview someone about the event.

Take advantage of Tip Sheets
In addition to frequent press release distribution and ongoing personal contact with reporters and editors, the Office of Public Relations now offers the media weekly 'tip sheets' containing nuggets of information we think may be of interest to their audiences. These tips include ideas we think are worthy of "fleshing out," invitations to upcoming events, and contact information for one or more of our faculty experts whose area of expertise is a hot topic. We encourage all departments and organizations to contribute ideas for these tip sheets via e-mail. 

Review JSU's Policies on Communications 
The university has two policies that guide our communications. Please take a moment to review them so you'll be ready when it's time to communicate on behalf of JSU:

Publicity Policy
Social Media Policy and Guidelines

We value your opinion
The Office of Public Relations encourages the ongoing exchange of ideas and invites all university stakeholders to participate. If you have suggestions for editorials, would like to write opinion pieces for distribution to the media, or would like to submit your departmental or individual blog for consideration on this page, we'd like to hear from you. If you have suggestions for improvement on our site, we'd like to hear those, too.

Working with the Media

Transparency at JSU

Jacksonville State University promotes ongoing exchange with the public through the media and adheres to all open meeting laws. Any university employee unfamiliar with the open meeting or "sunshine" law may request information through the Office of Public Relations.

Our faculty experts
The Office of Public Relations maintains the faculty experts guide for the benefit of reporters and groups seeking speakers on topics of interest. We encourage all our administrators, faculty and staff who can speak on a subject with authority to participate in our experts guide. Please note that the topic need not be of a strictly academic nature. 

General information about interviews
The Office of Public Relations attempts to arrange all interviews at JSU; however, we realize that there are occasions when a reporter will call an administrator, faculty or staff member without going through our office. If this happens and you feel comfortable with the interview request, you may answer the reporter’s questions and notify our office afterward. Please make certain that you get any contact information including the media outlet so that we may follow up with him. 

If you prefer not to be interviewed immediately, you may refer the reporter to our office or set up the interview for a later time or date. Please note that reporters, particularly those in television, work on tight deadlines and will move on to another source if we do not respond. Because the university strives to be as accessible as possible to the media, if you cannot accommodate an interview request for any reason, please ask the reporter to contact our office immediately so that we may assist him. If you need assistance in planning for your interview, we are always available to help.

Sometimes a reporter will request an interview that requires special equipment and capabilities, such as a webcam, sound equipment or a studio. All are available for your use and may be coordinated through our office.

How to participate in an interview
First and foremost, you are a representative of Jacksonville State University and are speaking for the university during official interviews. Please make certain you identify yourself as a JSU employee, offer the correct spelling of your name, indicate your position, and ask that your affiliation with the university be included in any attributions in print or on screen. Any personal opinion expressed during the interview should be identified clearly as such. 

Speak truthfully and succinctly when asked a question, especially during television and radio interviews that rely on brief "sound bites." Remember that the person conducting the interview may not know acronyms or other lingo associated with the subject. Take the time to explain carefully. Pay careful attention to the questions being asked; if you do not understand a question or the reporter does not appear to have understood your answer, offer more detail to be certain your answer is clear and accurate.  If a question is too difficult or you do not know the answer, tell the reporter that you do not have the information and refer him to our office. Do not allow the reporter to lead you into a story. Allow the story to develop on its own and ask the reporter to read back to you what you said if you suspect there may be inaccuracies. 

Never offer the reporter the phrase “no comment,” as it suggests you have something to hide. Try to prepare for the interview well, then keep a cool head if asked a difficult or inappropriate question.  Always offer an explanation when you cannot answer a question. If the information the reporter seeks would compromise someone’s right to privacy, it is okay to tell the reporter. If discussing the matter could have legal consequences for the university, you should refer the interviewer to our office. 

Do not rely on the term “off the record.” As a general rule, if what you're about to say is questionable for publication, it should not be discussed. If you would like to offer background information that will help build a story, make certain that the reporter knows you do not want it attributed.

If you are being interviewed for television and have time to prepare, wear lightweight, solid colors and avoid any jewelry that might create glare. Bring along a handkerchief to blot your face before going under the hot lights. Glasses are okay; television camera operators know how to adjust camera angles to make you look your best.

Remember to look at the reporter instead of the camera. Relax and act natural, paying attention to your gestures so you don't "overdo" them. Unless the subject dictates otherwise, smile often!