WRITING FOR THE PUBLIC
WORKING WITH MEDIA
Merry P. Bruns
All Rights Reserved.
for Easy and Effective Press"
by David Givens,
Center for Non-Verbal Communication
(former Press Officer, American Anthropological Association)
Anthropologists who want to help the discipline's
press effort are cordially invited to use the following checklist, results
of which are guaranteed:
- 1. Volunteer to become
your department's Press Person.
- You should enjoy writing, and be sympathetic with the press.
3. Mail your press contacts
- 2. Go through your local
newspapers and identify area science and features writers who cover "anthropology-relevent" topics.
- Think broadly, in terms of medical, urban, ethnic, educational or
language issues, and so on.
- A Rolodex card with your contact information. "File under
'A' for Anthropology." Include your home phone number.
- A list of your department's specialists, cross-indexed
by faculty. Use the department's AAA Guide listings, or expand on them.
- A brief letter inviting reporters and editors to use
your department as a resource for anthropological, biological, archeological,
social and behavioral science information.
(Once started, you will get calls asking for help with anthropological
angles and slants on editorial assignments that are not prima facie
- 4. Follow up in two
weeks with a call; reiterate the offer to liase.
Offer to refer requests you cannot answer to Susan Skomal, AAA Press
(703) 528-1902, ex.3005).
- 5. Begin monthly mailings
to your press contacts.
Keep them informed on new and ongoing research, projects, lectures,
local digs, and so on.
(Send 1-2 page press releases or published research; have reporters
contact the researcher directly for best results.)
- 6. Stay in regular touch
- Call once every 1-2 months; more when things are happening.
- 7. Please be accessible
- Journalists are on savage deadlines.
- 8.We have found journalists
to be almost pathalogically conscientious.
They always appreciate help with story lines, and with breaking jargon
into ordinary prose. Because some professors have difficulty speaking
in everyday language, you may have to be the "translator".
-Remember: members of the working press are always on the lookout for
story ideas and feature angles. They will appreciate your interest and
Reprinted with permission of the Anthropology Newsletter, American Anthropological
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Email: Merry Bruns, Dir.