Media Strategy

Depending on your circumstances and your goals, you might want to inform people about a situation at your institution or in your state through student or local media, existing video-sharing and social networking sites, or a simple website.

While crisis communications don’t allow time for leisurely planning, taking some time to talk through your strategy will make your communications more effective. Some questions to consider:

  • What are you trying to achieve, beyond just letting people know about the crisis? Is your primary goal to make sure that faculty are included in decision making, to curb tuition increases, to ensure that any pay cuts or freezes are spread equally among administration and faculty, or . . .?
  • Who can help you achieve your goal and how? Are you trying to involve students in on-campus rallies in order to pressure the administration on a particular point? Do you want to conduct a general “public-will” campaign about the importance of higher education funding, with a goal of creating public pressure on officials responsible for making funding decisions? Would you be best served by a targeted letter-writing campaign to a particular official or administrator?
  • Who do you speak for? You will have more strength and credibility with an organization behind you—an AAUP chapter or conference, the faculty senate, or an ad hoc coalition or committee devoted to one issue.
  • Is it more useful to publicize your issue locally or nationally? Very often, you will get a lot more bang for your buck and time by concentrating on your campus, town, or state. No one cares more about faculty cuts and the resultant overcrowding of classes than the students who will be affected, their parents, and others in the community who have ties to your institution. No one is as interested in the distribution of funds within a state as state residents. This is especially true in today’s economic climate, where most institutions and states have financial concerns of their own. If, however, your situation is in some way remarkable—affecting a large number of employees or students, for example, or involving violations of academic good practice—you may wish to contact the national media. Two main outlets for higher education news are the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.