Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Media Tips from the Newsmakers Panel

First, I would like to thank Barry List, the Communications Director of INFORMS, for organizing the Newsmakers Panel that took place at the 2011 INFORMS Charlotte conference. Barry was a terrific moderator and the panelists and the audience benefited a lot from the presentations and discussions. The session was videotaped.

The panelists were: Jack Levis of UPS, Margaret Brandeau of Stanford, Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois, and yours truly. The panelists have had experience with major news outlets, including the Associate Press, radio shows, TV programs, and documentaries.

Some tips on how to handle the media (and also on how to get the good news out about your research / work):

1. Nurture relationships with your organization's Office of Public Information as well as with those in the media. If you have a publication that will be appearing in a good journal, let the relevant contacts know and work with them.

2. Be prepared: this is very important. When you get contacted by the media you need to be available, so when the news about your work gets out be ready to handle interview requests. There is a short time window. Your organization's Public Information Office may be able to offer valuable assistance and even training as to how to handle interview requests.

3. Realize that the news is about the science behind your research / discoveries. Nevertheless, keep it simple (as far as possible) and be clear.

4. In speaking to the media make sure that you have items (almost irrespective of the questions asked) that you want emphasized. Remember that catchy phrases and counterintuitive results tend to get "picked up."

5. Working with the media is a service and helps to promote not only your work and your organization but perhaps, most importantly, our profession of operations research and analytics.

And, of course, keep up the great work -- sooner or later great work gets recognized!