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News ServicesFaculty & Staff Resources

The "news bureau" of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) primarily is responsible for communicating news and information about College research, people and programs to audiences including local, regional and national media, and through them to the general public.

In addition, our tasks include disseminating similar types of information to the campus community.

Types of Services Provided

ESF’s news services include the traditional array of communications tools, including news releases, calendar listings, inquiry letters to select reporters, and press kits and press conferences (for predetermined special projects or events).

Services also include working with individual faculty to develop and place opinion or editorial pieces in local and regional media outlets. We also distribute information on and "preview copies" of research papers to be presented by our faculty at professional meetings to science editors at media outlets that cover these meetings.

Communications’ writers also prepare feature stories for the college magazine, Inside ESF, and other types of articles to serve a variety of institutional needs.

The Office provides a number of campus-oriented services related to news bureau operations. These include:

  • Advise faculty and staff on how to work with the media and help to plan media coverage of their activities, programs or scheduled events.
  • Distribute bi-monthly News Clippings to campus units. News Clippings is a compilation of articles appearing in newspapers and magazines about or mentioning the college and its staff and activities. Any staff member may submit entries for "Clippings".
  • Prepare and distribute a weekly package of materials to the college Board of Trustees and ESF College Foundation board members to keep them informed of events and issues on campus. The packet includes press releases, College Calendars, the Knothole, News Clippings and special publications. Selected other material from campus units also may be included in these regular mailings. Contact the Director of Communications.

The First Step

The first step toward getting coverage for your activities typically will begin with a telephone call by a Communications staff member. We still rely heavily on information provided to us by faculty and staff about their or their colleagues’ current projects.

If you are engaged in a research or public service activity that you think is a newsworthy item, contact Communications’ staff directly by telephone, email or personal visit. Particularly for such things as events or important visitors to campus, try to give us as much lead time as possible.

Getting the Word Out

After obtaining the basic information about the activity, Communications will decide the best way to inform the media of it, and work to get the activity covered. Some items are best communicated through a news release. Others may receive a better reception if we work directly and exclusively with a single reporter and aim to get feature coverage of the activity. News & Pubs staff will use its best professional judgment as to what approach stands to pay the most dividends.

Once again, lead time is important. The sooner News & Pubs learns of a possible news item, the more time we have to explore avenues for coverage.

In addition to the external media, Communications generates news and information items for the college’s Web site (www.esf.edu), and develops the official College Calendar of activities.

Expert Commentary

Frequently, reporters and editors contact Communications seeking experts to comment for various articles they are writing.

In these situations, staff members will try to get as much information as possible about the article and the nature of the reporter’s question to determine who might best be able to respond to the request for assistance.

Before passing on an individual’s name to a reporter, we will do our best to contact you to ascertain your suitability to assist the reporter, your availability, and your willingness to help.

Beyond the Basics

The daily newspaper editorial pages are among the most read sections of the newspaper. Letters to the Editor and opinion pieces on current issues in the news can be a valuable source of exposure for the college, highlighting our work, experience, and expertise.

Letters to the editor are an easy way to educate readers about issues and activities involving the college. President Murphy recently had great success with letters to the editor on the topic of bio-based research. The letters were prominently featured on the editorial pages of the Albany Times-Union and the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Communications staff would be glad to assist individual faculty and staff with proofreading and editing of their letters, and recommending potential media to run the letter.

Opinion pieces, or op-eds, are similar to letters to the editor. However, they typically are slightly longer editorial pieces. And, where letters to the editor allow any individual to voice an opinion on a current issue, op-eds almost always are written by and individual acknowledged as experienced or as an expert on the subject under discussion.

Once again, these pieces may give faculty, staff and administrators at ESF a forum for detailing ESF’s contributions to resolving a particular issue or educating the newspaper’s audience on why this issue is important to them.

As with letters to the editor, News & Pubs would like to work with campus authors to get op-ed pieces placed in one or several media outlets.

Got questions? Got News?

Please contact Communications with any questions or comments, or if you have a news tip.

It is the policy of the Office of Communications to check science and in-depth stories with campus researchers for scientific accuracy. Please try not to abuse this privilege.

Our aim is to portray the college in the most positive light possible. Please come and discuss any concerns or questions you have with the Director.