Bradford University will soon be launching its experts’ directory: a co-ordinated approach to the expertise of University staff to help the media and external organisations find the right contact quickly. I’ve asked to be included: it’s an opportunity to raise our profile internally too.
I’d urge heritage people to get involved if their own organisation has something similar (most do). There is so much expertise in the sector. We need to tell the world what we can offer.
Yesterday I went to a training course for people included in our directory, run by a local journalist and our press officer. The course included help with awkward questions and advice on how journalists and broadcasters think, and we shared our experiences of working with the media. I took the opportunity to have a mini radio interview, which was fun though scary.
Everyone who appears in the directory must have this training. I think this is right. If you don’t understand how the media work, what they want from you, and what you can get in return, the experience will be more difficult and frustrating for both sides, and can be damaging to the individual and the university. An inaccurate newspaper report is no longer just tomorrow’s chip paper: it will linger indefinitely on the web to cause ongoing embarrassment.
At the moment, with higher education cuts and demos in the news, any apparently benign media contact could feature awkward questions on these subjects. What will your university’s fee level be? What do you think about the behaviour of the demonstrators in London? A bit of forethought will help turn these questions around into an opportunity to promote your work, organisation, and higher education! Well, it’s worth a try.