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Media Relations

As a member of the campus community, you may come in contact with media, including reporters representing newspapers, magazines, radio, television and online media resources. In most cases, the OMC has proactively arranged for media to be present, is responding to a specific media inquiry or is “pitching” a campus expert to a specific reporter or related to a particular topic. However, in the event you are approached by media which is not related to an OMC media inquiry, keep in mind the important parameters noted below. As always, the best course of action is to contact OMC, when media is unexpectedly present. Matt Heffelfinger, director of athletics communications, is the contact for sports-related media relations.

  • You may refuse to talk with a reporter by stating that you are not the appropriate person to speak about the topic at hand. Refer the reporter to OMC.
  • If you do speak about an issue, clearly identify your name and title, and ask the reporter to repeat the information back to you.
  • Ask the reporter if she is working on a deadline.Find out what the deadline is, and if it is not an immediate one, refer the reporter to OMC.  
  • Answer only the questions being asked. Do not volunteer additional information beyond the scope of the reporter’s questions.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question; say so. It is always acceptable to say that you don’t know.   It is not acceptable to say “no comment.”
  • Following interaction with any media, please contact OMC, with a status of the event.

Campus Experts

The many experts on our campus can speak about topics ranging from academic programs to zero-base budgeting. The OMC is always looking for an opportunity to present our experts’ opinions in the media. Faculty members and senior level staff are presented with the option to serve as a qualified expert. With that responsibility comes several expectations:

  • Experts must identify specific key messages/topics about which he can speak knowledgably
  • Experts must be available, often within a short time frame, to respond to a reporter’s inquiry
  • Experts must be willing to be “pitched” to media, at the discretion of the OMC.

Crisis Communications

The most important element of managing a crisis is to have a clear plan established before it’s needed. Communicating to various audiences—students, parents, staff, faculty, the public, media—in the midst of a crisis situation is critical to Elizabethtown College maintaining a positive image in the community. The Emergency Management Group (EMG) has established a comprehensive response plan for many different types of crisis scenarios. Inherent in each scenario is a clearly defined communication plan. Each scenario defines a specific spokesperson for a given scenario and identifies other important resources that may be used to support the crisis. Staff and faculty members should be aware that, in the case of a crisis, the EMG is actively monitoring and managing every step of the event and communicating about the status. Updates about a crisis scenario will be communicated through the EC Alert system, on the phone line, on the website and through social media posts.

Elizabethtown College