Career Story: Communications Director For A Public University

Communications Director For A Public University

Job Title: Director Of Research Communications For A Public University.

Type of Company: Our office promotes the research of our university's faculty members to the media and to the general public.

Education: BS, Journalism, Ohio University •• MA, Political Science, Ohio State University

Previous Experience: I began my career as a reporter for a small newspaper, then moved on to work as a general assignment reporter for a large metropolitan paper. From, there I became a writer for the communications office of a large public university, and was promoted to director of our communications unit.

Job Tasks: My job is to find interesting research done by our faculty members and write about the work in a way that attracts public interest (and the media, especially).

I begin by finding the technical studies that our faculty publish in journals and deciding which of them would be of interest to the broader public, and after interviewing their authors, I write news releases explaining the studies in ways that the public can appreciate. For example, I may write about a new study that shows that high levels of stress increase the deadliness of breast cancer. The goal is to write a news release that attracts the attention of media across the country and gets them to write about the study and our university in a way that enhances people's view of us.

As a director of communications, I also help three other writers choose studies to write about and edit their work to make sure that their news releases are as effective as possible. I work with reporters from various news organizations who are looking for expert sources for their articles. A reporter writing about the auto industry, for example, might want to talk to a business professor who could furnish insight and expertise, and I will help him to get in touch with one of ours. And finally, I also track media coverage about the university to determine the effectiveness of our efforts.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is being one of the first to learn about new and exciting research projects that affect people's lives. I get to write about everything from newly developed medicines to the latest studies on voting patterns.

The worst part is dealing with some media requests that take up a lot of time but don't provide much benefit for the university.

Job Tips:
1. Find opportunities to write. They may be at a high school or university newspaper, or freelancing for a small, local publication. No writing job should be too small to consider for someone starting out.

2. If you want to write about research and science, you need to understand what you're writing about. Take science classes.

3. Don't be afraid of rejection. Many of your articles may not make it to print, but you have to keep trying to get a foothold in the business.

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