Media relations policy

Communications & Marketing is the primary contact and information source for print, online and broadcast news media and media-related issues.

Last updated: October 10, 2016.

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Policy area overview

The media relations staff welcomes the opportunity to work with faculty and staff to publicize the achievements, initiatives, and work of the College community. Our office can provide advice and guidance to employees about best practices used to send and share news, and how to respond to media questions.

Communications & Marketing is responsible for developing a media relations strategy, disseminating news, responding to requests for expert commentary, and providing information to the media about Gettysburg College people, programs, events and activities. We also advise faculty and administration on issues that affect public perception of the College and serves as the primary voice and/or spokesperson for the College on policy issues.

Contact Communications & Marketing before releasing any information to the media concerning internal or external matters that affect the College.

Media relations services

Through media relations, the Communications & Marketing office aims to increase public awareness of the College and enhance the image and national visibility of the institution. We provide the following services:

  • Coordination of interviews and media visits for faculty, students, and staff
  • Preparation and dissemination of College press releases
  • Assistance with opinion/editorial writing, talking points, source pitches
  • Publicity for key College events, speakers, activities, awards, honors and achievements
  • Management of crisis communications and media responses
  • Management of the Experts Guide for media
  • Management of the Hometown News program, which enables students to send news of graduation, achievements and honors to their hometown newspapers

Opinions, editorials and letters to the editor

Opinion/editorial articles (often called op-eds) normally appear on the page opposite a newspaper’s in-house editorials and letters to the editor. Op-eds serve many roles. They can be informative, serious, satirical or light-hearted; they can spark a debate, highlight a neglected point of view or offer a new perspective on a current issue of interest. A timely, well-written and provocative piece can establish the writer as an expert on a particular topic and, at the same time, enhance public recognition for the author and the College’s academic programs.

Editors at large newspapers and magazines receive hundreds of submissions each week, and must weigh several factors when choosing which to publish. The criteria include the article’s quality, timeliness, freshness of viewpoint and the number of articles already published on the topic. Priority is often given to a publication’s regular columnists.

Op-ed vs. letter to the editor

Letters to the Editor generally respond to something previously published in the paper, or an issue that is currently in the news. They are much shorter than op-eds – a few paragraphs instead of several hundred words. Writers often express a personal viewpoint and do not have to be writing as experts or as representatives of institutions. If what you have to say is short, or offers another view of the newspaper’s coverage of an issue, you may consider submitting a Letter to the Editor.

Use of College title or affiliation

Op-eds and Letters to the Editor must be submitted to the newspaper or magazine with your name and email address. If you are expressing a personal point of view on an issue not related to the College or your professional position, it is not appropriate to include your College title or affiliation. Your Gettysburg College title or affiliation should be included only if your academic and/or professional credentials, or your position at the College, is relevant to the op-ed or letter’s subject.

If there is the possibility of confusion about whether you might be speaking on behalf of the College, it will be necessary to specifically indicate you are speaking as a private citizen and not as a representative of the College. The Communications & Marketing office can help clarify these situations, and faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the Communications office for general advice and guidance.

In addition, if your op-ed or letter to the editor opposes or endorses one political candidate versus another, you must add the following disclaimer to your piece: “Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of Gettysburg College.”

If your op-ed or letter is published, you may receive inquiries about your stated position from the general public. In addition, the Communications office and the President’s office may receive queries about the opinions of faculty or staff and how they relate to the College’s official position, if any, on a particular issue. In order to be prepared to respond to such inquiries, the Communications office requests faculty and staff to send a courtesy copy of any letter or op-ed that includes College affiliation or title to the Communications office prior to submission to the newspaper or magazine. This policy is not intended to require faculty to seek approval before writing op-eds or letters or to subject the content of such editorials or letters to College approval. The College asks only for the courtesy of timely notice. In that vein, the following questions were created to help authors think through the impact of a piece prior to submitting for publication:

  • What impact will your published piece have on the reputation of the College?  What impact will it have on you personally and professionally? What impact will it have on our community? Students?
  • Have you considered whether or not your piece falls in line with the College’s greater mission and institutional values?
  • If this piece were to be picked up by national media, would you be comfortable standing up for what you wrote? Do you care if it offends someone? Does the topic engage authentic, productive conversation? Does it add value or share a new perspective?
  • Have you received feedback or asked for reactions on your piece from multiple people?
  • Finally, does it pass the gut check?

Internal procedure

When a member of the Communications & Marketing office or outside consultants hired by the department are working with a faculty member on an opinion piece and the piece has potential negative impact on Gettysburg College’s reputation the staff member will do the following things:

  • Notify the Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
  • Identify and communicate the potential impact to the faculty member

If the situation is not resolved by working with the faculty member, the Executive Director of Communications and Marketing will notify the Vice President of Educational and Enrollment Services who will decide whether or not to engage the Provost’s office.

No opinion piece that the Communications & Marketing office has knowledge of and could have potential negative impact on Gettysburg College’s reputation should be pitched without written approval from the VP of EES. However, important to note, is that faculty and staff can pitch their own controversial op-eds, statements, and letters to the editor without prior approval or knowledge from the Communications office. The op-ed guidelines encourage all College community members to work with the Communications office.