Media guidelines for staff

In a fiercely competitive market it has never been more important to shout about our research and promote our expertise. 

The Press Office has put together a series of guidelines and tips to help you get the best out of the media.

What is the purpose of the Press Office?

The Press Office is responsible for raising the profile of Royal Holloway locally, nationally and internationally. We work with academics to promote their research and expertise. We highlight the achievements of our staff, students and alumni and work to protect and strengthen our reputation. The Press Office is located in Founder's East 34

Press Office contacts:

Sophia Haque

Head of Press and Public Relations (Thursdays and Fridays)

T: 01784 443552

Kim Deasy

Press and Communications Officer

T: 01784 443967

Why promote the College?

  • To safeguard Royal Holloway’s position in a competitive market
  • To help recruit and retain the best students and staff
  • To highlight the excellence in teaching and research in a wider context

Our academics do not just teach our students and help them to become leaders in their  field, but they also carry out important research which helps to make a real difference – for example our researchers were awarded a large grant to look into the decline of bumblebees.

  • To communicate the value of going to university and a degree at Royal Holloway

With the increase of tuition fees it has never been more important to promote the value of a degree and providing value for money – whether that be through alumni success stories or details of our careers programmes or the impact of our volunteering opportunities

  • To promote good community relations with our neighbours

Our local community is very important to us. Many of our students live out in the surrounding areas and we are one of the biggest local employers in the area. We want local residents to value our presence in their community, not simply because of our stunning Founder’s building but because of our student volunteering, community events, and widening participation. 

How can this benefit you?

  • Increasing the profile of your research will also help raise awareness of Royal Holloway and your department and safeguard our position in a competitive market.
  • Greater individual profile can help career progression
  • Funding bodies are increasingly calling for demonstration of impact and public engagement – which is clearly visible through the media
  • It can provide opportunities for new relationships and collaborations within your area of expertise or in other disciplines
  • Stimulating industry awareness can lead to conference invitations, consultancy and partnership opportunities 

What makes your research newsworthy?

Not all stories that are interesting to a researcher are interesting to a journalist or the general public. 

It may help to answer the following questions when deciding if your research is newsworthy (if in doubt please contact the press office to discuss):

  • Is it new?
    Has it been reported already? Is it happening now?
  • Is it on the current agenda?
    Journalists are always looking for stories that are relevant to the majority of their audience. Topical subjects always attract coverage for example obesity, effects of alcohol and house prices, elections or Government policy.
  • Is it linked to a disaster?
    The media always wants commentary or expertise on immediate events from natural disasters to terrorist attacks or riots
  • Does it have a human interest element?
    These stories appeal to our emotions and can consist of finding cures for illnesses, discovering the cause of diseases, offering health advice to prevent illness or discussing adoption or family policy.
  • Can you link it to a personality/celebrity?
    Famous people get more coverage because they are famous. When a celebrity gets an illnesses it raises its prominence for example when Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer or when Cheryl Cole was treated for malaria.
  • Is it different/quirky or linked to popular culture?
    There needs to be a lighter side to the news. For example our academics have already had publicity from their thoughts and research on the Eurovision Song Contest, Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor.

Press interviews

Whenever the Press Office sets up a media interview with staff they will always brief you fully and offer to provide advice and assistance beforehand.

However below are some pointers that are worth remembering:

  • Always ensure you know what newspaper or media organisation you are dealing with and where relevant the name of the programme.
  • With broadcast interviews always check what type of interview it will be; live or pre-recorded; studio interview, remote studio, down an ordinary telephone line or ISDN line or an outside broadcast.
  • Always check what the main areas of questions are and how long the interview is likely to last. But DO NOT prepare a script as this will sound unnatural and over-rehearsed.
  • Find out who else is being interviewed or who else is being approached
  • Prepare your key messages and identify the main point of your research in a short sentence.
  • Determine what you cannot say and identify any areas of contention
  • Switch off your mobile phone - don’t just turn it on silent
  • Relax and speak clearly at a moderate speed. People tend to speak too quickly when nervous
  • Don’t rustle papers or fidget with keys in your pocket
  • Keep your points brief, simple and to the point and avoid unnecessary repetition
  • In a television interview always look at the reporter not directly at the camera, unless asked to do so. 

How the Press Office can help you

  • Identifying the news angle in research projects and translating complex language so that it is understandable to non-specialists.
  • Providing advice and practical support with all aspects of media liaison – from the production of press releases to guidance in handling media interviews and dealing with journalists.
  • Being the first point of contact in all communications with the media and vetting queries and requests.
  • Using existing contacts with national and local journalists in order to maximise PR opportunities
  • Many research projects produce the best and most reliable results when they come to an end, but major ones (long-awaited or big budget) can create news when they are launched or when you have preliminary findings or a news hook. In order to ensure maximum publicity it is important you keep in touch with the press office and ensure you:
  • Inform the Press Office about your research projects at the earliest opportunity to ensure an appropriate publicity plan can be put in place, especially when the research is appearing in a peer-reviewed journal with a set publication date or it is part of a conference or event.
  • Notify the press office of your areas of expertise and up to date contact details to ensure you can be contacted at short notice. 

Maximise your coverage: Working with the press office

  • Due to the small size of the press office team and the breadth of College departments we serve we request where possible that you give us two week’s notice for publication of press releases so we can ensure we do not miss out on any deadlines and opportunities.
  • The press office may contact you at short notice for press interviews. Where academics are needed to provide commentary they need to respond quickly. Many opportunities have been missed by academics not responding within a few hours.
  • In any press interview please remember to attribute your quote to Royal Holloway, University of London. Where an organisation insists on shortening the name it is preferable to mention Royal Holloway rather than just the University of London.
  • The Press Office works hard to cultivate and maintain its relations with journalists and therefore it is extremely important that when you agree for your research to be promoted, and a press release is issued, you ensure you or an appropriate colleague are available for media interviews and can be contacted at short notice by the Press Office.
  • You may have long-established relationships with certain journalists whom you trust and may come to you directly for a comment. However in all other cases it is strongly recommended that you direct media enquiries to the Press Office who will then liaise with you about how best to proceed. Where an interview has not been arranged through the Press office, please do keep us informed to help us keep track of all media coverage.
  • For security reasons programme makers, film crews, photographers and reporters must consult with the Press Office should they wish to visit College premises or interview any member of College staff. We can help with parking reservations, room bookings and optimal filming locations, where adequate notice is provided.
  • Increasingly radio stations are happy to use landlines to conduct interviews however tehy much prefer to use an ISDN line which offers high quality audio and can be connected straight through to radio stations. An ISDN line is available in the Press Office and its use can be arranged by prior notice.

General advice

  • You are the expert and will most certainly know more about the subject than the journalist
  • Never respond to a media enquiry on the spot and always utilise the press office
  • Remember journalists want sound bites not detailed findings so keep your comments relevant and to the point
  • Remember the journalist could use any of your words. Avoid saying you want to speak ‘off the record’ or ‘don’t quote me on that’. If you can’t say it on record don’t say it at all.
  • Towards the end of an interview for print ask the journalist to repeat your quote so that you can correct any mistakes. If during a recorded interview you make a mistake, stop and ask to do it again.
  • Enjoy it!