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Media Relations

The Office of Media Relations, an office within the Division of Marketing and Communications, is the primary contact and information source for print, online and broadcast news media and media-related issues. The media relations staff welcomes the opportunity to work with faculty and staff to publicize the achievements, initiatives and work of the College community. The Office of Media Relations can provide advice and guidance to employees about best practices used to send and share news, and how to respond to media questions.

The Office of Media Relations is responsible for developing communication strategies, disseminating news, responding to requests for expert commentary and providing information to the media about College of Charleston people, programs, events and activities. The office also advises faculty and administration on policy issues that affect public perception of the College.

The Office of Media Relations should be contacted before any information is released to the media concerning internal or external matters that affect the College. The senior director of media relations serves as the College of Charleston’s general media spokesperson. For information, visit the Media Relations website.

Media Relations Services

The Office of Media Relations serves the campus community by increasing public awareness of the College and enhancing the image of the institution. The office assists divisions, departments and offices in effectively communicating information about programs, awards, achievements, news and events. The Office of Media Relations provides the following services:

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

Press Releases

All press releases, statements on behalf of the College and media notifications – with the exception of sports information, which is supervised by Athletics Media Relations – must be released through the Office of Media Relations. The office works with media outlets on a daily basis and has established relationships with reporters and editors; thus, it is more effective for the media to work with the Office of Media Relations as a central campus contact.

A request to write and issue a press release for an event or announcement must be made at least two weeks prior to the event date or announcement date. The request can be made by calling or e-mailing the media relations office. Contact information is available on the website, Media Relations website.

When requesting a press release, please include as much information as possible: details of date, time, place, program content and background information for speakers. Inform media relations about the type of audience you are trying to attract to the event. If you have a special publication you would like to see your story/event sent to, please submit the name of the publication(s) and contact information if available to you.

When you submit an idea, remember the Five Ws: who, what, when, where, why. Answer the Five Ws and you provide the office with a good start in developing the background and story pitches to the media. If you submit photographs, you must include the names of everyone who appears in the image and credit the photographer.

All press releases issued through the Office of Media Relations are written in Associated Press style. 

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 and research. The College encourages faculty and administrators to write and submit op-eds, which showcase our faculty’s expertise to the public and demonstrate the College’s involvement in the community.

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. The Office of Media Relations can assist you with determining length, content and style of op-ed articles. Please contact the Office of Media Relations as early as possible in the writing process. If your op-ed is rejected at one publication, don’t be discouraged. You may have success at another publication or with another subject in the future.

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. The College encourages Letters to the Editor, which showcase our faculty’s expertise to the public and demonstrate the College’s involvement in the community.

Use of College Title or Affiliation

Op-eds and Letters to the Editor must be submitted to the newspaper or magazine with your name, address and phone number. 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 College of Charleston 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 Office of Media Relations can help clarify these situations, and faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the Office of Media Relations for advice and guidance.

If your op-ed or letter is published, the Office of Media Relations or 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 Office of Media Relations requests faculty and staff to send a courtesy copy of any letter or op-ed that includes College affiliation or title to the Office of Media Relations 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 and respect for decisions made by the President and our Board of Trustees designating those who are authorized to officially speak for the College.

Tips for Writing an Op-Ed

The successful op-ed writer functions much like a journalist, but with a strong opinion about the subject matter. Unlike some traditional academic writing, most op-eds should be written with the conclusions or strongest statements in the first two or three paragraphs. As an expert, the op-ed writer should not hesitate to forcefully state his or her opinions right away, and then back them up with strong subsequent paragraphs.

When writing an op-ed piece, keep in mind that your audience is the general readership of the newspaper, not experts on a given subject. Avoid words or phrases that may be unfamiliar to readers.

Op-eds are different in style and tone from journal articles and other forms of academic writing. Here are a few suggestions for writing successful op-eds from The New York Times:

  • State an opinion. By definition, op-eds are statements of opinion on controversial matters of public interest. Argue your side strongly; don’t hedge, equivocate or defer.
  • Get to the point. State the central thesis of your op-ed in one sentence near the beginning of your piece – usually no further down than the third sentence.
  • Structure your piece logically. You should begin with a provocative or original thought that grabs readers and attracts them to read the rest of your piece. Then state your thesis. Then provide supporting evidence or elements of your argument. Last, conclude with a fresh angle or new point that clinches your argument with a single, cohesive message. For example, if you’ve devoted your piece to a public policy failure, the conclusion is a good place to offer the solution.
  • Keep it simple. Write simple, declarative, informal sentences. Compose paragraphs of one to four sentences, rarely more. Use quotations sparingly if at all. Attribute if you must, but keep titles as short as possible.
  • Keep it short. Most newspapers won’t consider op-eds longer than 750 words. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was 269 words. A concise, to-the- point 500 words is infinitely preferable to a meandering, meaningless 1,000 words.
  • When possible, entertain. Don’t be afraid to try a little humor, tell a good anecdote or otherwise liven up your copy.

The first thing that will be considered when you submit your op-ed piece is the relevance of its topic for the particular newspaper. For this reason, you should choose your op-ed topic wisely, according to the following suggestions:

  • Be timely. Op-eds discuss current news. “Current” means tomorrow, today or this week, not last month. If you have an opinion on a topic that surfaces in the news periodically, it’s a good idea to write the bulk of your piece in advance, then “top” it with whatever the most current news on the matter happens to be.
  • Bring in a local connection to a national issue if possible.
  • Be original. It’s fine to write about topics that already receive a lot of coverage, but you need to have an original, fresh or provocative angle if you expect to see your piece in print. Alternatively, you may enjoy success with a topic that hasn’t been extensively covered, but may be equally or more important to readers.
  • Consider your audience. Newspapers are intended for a mass audience. As a result, you will have the most success with a topic that is important or meaningful to a large number of people from many different walks of life. If you’d like your piece to appear in a national newspaper, write about an issue of national significance; if you’d like it to appear in South Carolina newspapers, focus on a South Carolina issue.
  • When deciding on your topic, narrow your scope to something that pertains to the readership of that paper.
  • Make your argument accessible to a general audience, not just an academic one.
  • Don’t just attack other groups; make your own point about an issue.
  • Know something about the paper you are sending your piece to and the type of pieces they print, and adjust accordingly.
  • Check the newspaper’s guidelines for their rules regarding op-eds. Some papers will only print your op-ed if it has not been sent to another paper.
  • Contact the Office of Media Relations for information and assistance.
  • Do not use profane language or commit libel.