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I have some articles coming out and I would like to contact journalists but I am not sure how.

The people in charge with the media relations at my university are unhelpful, so I have to do it myself.

I tried Twitter but most of the journalists I spotted on that topic seemed to have disabled the messaging function. I could not find their emails on the newspaper website. Is there a way to get some attention from newspapers or journalists? Can you yourself send around a press release?

[Update] I did manage to contact a journalist via Twitter on my own and it really wasn't that hard to communicate my research. Now a few newspapers have picked up the story from that journalist. In the end it was good that I pursue sending the story out. I am just surprised how difficult it is to simply contact journalists. I feel that once your story is out, everybody wants to interview you.

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    It would be interesting to learn how your institution's media relations group proved unhelpful. Seems like this sort of thing would be right up its alley, so maybe there's more here than meets the eye? A controversial topic? Internal politics? Your status within the university? Jul 26, 2021 at 14:23
  • In the sense that they say, yes we well try to contact journalists and never really do it. They probably have lots of things to deal with. I am a junior researcher and my topic is not at all controversial. Maybe it is because I am junior? I feel that I would need to find journalists myself. I am just surprised how difficult it is.
    – giac
    Jul 26, 2021 at 19:26
  • Off the top of my head I can imagine a situation or two in which a journalist was in fact contacted but decided, for one reason or another, not to pursue the lead. Have you run your announcement or story by the department chair for feedback? Best of luck! Jul 26, 2021 at 19:40

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I don't think you are aware of what a press release is. A press release is not you contacting journalists. A press release is a statement in a specific format (tailored to journalists) that is distributed through standard channels. The hope is that the media takes an interest and journalists contact you.

Scientists should never do press releases on their own. You need help from people who specialize in media relations. If they decline, they probably have a reason, e.g., they might not think your research makes a good story ("my topic is not at all controversial").

Why do you want to make a press release? Usually, that is reserved for high-profile research. If you can't even get the interest of your own media department, why do you think journalists would find your research interesting enough to invest time and effort?1

Also, being interviewed by journalists is time consuming and stressful. You shouldn't do interviews without media training. Have you received such training? If not, that should be your first step. Part of such training is to give you a better insight into a journalist's job and their resulting mindset.

(My work is a high-impact and controversial topic. I have some experience with media relations and have received training regarding this.)


1 I think I sound a bit discouraging. It is actually good that you want to inform the public (outside academia) about your research. I just suspect you don't really know what exactly you should communicate. And you certainly don't know how you should do that. A good university / research institute should offer training for this.

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  • You'd be surprised how terrible some universities can be at this. I've met several people who received very prestigious awards and had to essentially write the entire press release on their own without any help from the university.
    – Ink blot
    Jul 27, 2021 at 23:26
  • @Inkblot No, I wouldn't be surprised at all. I've seen some astonishingly bad press releases by some universities. One had to wonder why they bothered at all. But I have also seen excellent press releases that led to some big news stories.
    – user9482
    Jul 28, 2021 at 9:01
  • See my update. It was actually very easy to communicate my research. This tells me that you should not rely too much on the university to do that job for you. I am still surprised how hard it is to make contact at first.
    – giac
    Jul 28, 2021 at 11:32
  • @giac "I feel that once your story is out, everybody wants to interview you." Only if you have a good story. ;)
    – user9482
    Jul 28, 2021 at 12:44
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    Someone from the press team at my university once saw a paper of mine with an interesting abstract got accepted, they asked me if I am willing to write a short description, and I said I'd be happy to work with them. They never got back to me...
    – Ink blot
    Jul 30, 2021 at 20:03

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