Working Productively with the Media
Media visibility helps educate the public about the success of Humboldt State University. It expands the university's name recognition, reinforces student recruitment and retention, boosts fundraising and maintains public awareness of HSU's many accomplishments. Media coverage shows our internal and external stakeholders what our state-supported institution is doing for its students, their families, the North Coast and California as a whole.
Timely and open communication is more than an end in itself. It is a strategic function, vitally important to HSU's growth and well-being. A positive relationship with the media makes is highly valuable.
Moreover, the public has a right to know the University's policies, plans, programs and activities.
Who is in charge?
The official spokesperson of Humboldt State University is Frank Whitlatch, the Associate Vice President of Marketing & Communications, (707) 826-5105. He is responsible for communicating, or finding an appropriate campus officer to communicate, University positions on issues of general, campus-wide impact or significance. He deals with matters that are potentially controversial or sensitive. It is paramount that he be provided advance notice of significant situations — with appropriate background, written material and other information — to enable him to represent the University effectively and accurately, while minimizing negative reaction. Advance notice to Marketing and Communications also enables the University to speak with one voice, which the public expects. (The Department of Athletics is responsible for publicizing sports programs; the media contact is Assistant Athletic Director of Communications, Andrew Goetz at (707) 826-3631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When should I get in touch with Marketing & Communications?
Humboldt State administrators, faculty and staff are asked to notify the Senior News and Information Officer, at 707-826-5105, when:
• You are contacted by a news reporter about campus policy or a campus-wide issue
• You can offer an expert opinion on current affairs
• You or another administrator, faculty member, student or staffer have won a major award
• You have completed a research project and want to announce the results
• You use innovative teaching techniques that would be helpful to outside educational institutions
• You need to arrange media conferences.
Also, see our Interview Tips for working with the news media.
How do we manage event coverage?
Campus groups should publicize their events only when they are open to the public, or at least to the news media. News releases are intended to spur media coverage or public attendance. On some occasions, events will not be open to the public for reasons of limited space, safety, or a need to conduct an event privately. In those instances, private invitations should be issued.
When you submit an event notice for posting on Humboldt State Now, the University's online news source, allow at least two weeks before the event date. If there is a registration deadline, submit your item three weeks beforehand.
Marketing & Communications reserves the right to edit all event notices. Maximum length for event notices is 100-150 words.
What is our policy concerning access?
HSU welcomes reporters and photographers on campus the same way it welcomes the public. In general, news media representatives do not need permission to enter the campus or take exterior still or video photographs for news purposes. It is HSU policy to be as helpful as possible to the media. However, that does not constitute a right to indiscriminate access. Students, staff and faculty have a right to privacy and neither reporters nor the public are allowed to disrupt classroom instruction or other educational functions.
If a reporter approaches you in person with an impromptu question, feel free to refer him/her to the New & Information office at (707) 826-3390 to set up an appointment with you at a mutually convenient time. Don't feel obligated to answer questions on-the-fly when you haven't had time to prepare.
News media must obtain prior permission from Marketing & Communications to enter classrooms, medical facilities and teaching laboratories. Permission usually will be granted, as long as access does not disrupt university functions or jeopardize safety. Residence halls are closed to the news media unless reporters make prior arrangements with the Housing Office. Any requests you receive to videotape specific campus activities or functions should be referred to Marketing & Communications. All requests for commercial, non-news photography, filmmaking or videotaping should be referred for review to Marketing & Communications.
The news media should not be allowed to infringe on the privacy of students, parents, administrators, faculty or staff. There are occasions when information will not be made public for valid legal, regulatory or privacy reasons. For example, no statements will be made to the media concerning a legal matter, or a potentially actionable legal matter, until CSU's Office of General Counsel, or HSU's Office of Risk Management & Safety Services, has been consulted. Any statement concerning legal matters must receive prior review for its legal (as distinct from public relations) implications.
Whom should I contact about alumni news and events?
What is HSU media policy in an emergency?
When a campus emergency occurs, media access will be controlled by special procedures set forth separately in HSU's emergency operations policy.
What is HSU's obituary policy?
The deaths of current and former employees may be posted on Humboldt State Now upon submission by a colleague or family member. Make the submission when the date, time, and location of the funeral or memorial service are set, and include that information in the announcement. A few sentences of biographical information should be provided, including the department with which the deceased was affiliated. Obituaries are limited to 150 words. The news and information office is not staffed to gather obituaries and is not responsible for reporting them. Notification must be provided through a submission to Humboldt State Now.
Note: these guidelines apply to professional, commercial media outlets, and also to The Lumberjack student newspaper and campus radio. However, students expect and have a right to greater personal access to those in charge of University programs.