The Right Choice for Your Success

Approval Date: Summer 1997
Approved By: University Relations

University Relations: A Guide for News Coverage, Image Building and Publications Standards

University Relations:

The Office of University Relations is committed to promoting Western Illinois University's mission to the public. In that role the University Relations staff work with media representatives, community leaders, state and federal officials, Western administrators, students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as the public. The office has the responsibility for the development and production of a wide array of publications and other forms of communication designed to disseminate information about the University, its programs, faculty, students, and alumni. The University Relations office is located in Sherman Hall 302.

News and Information:

The University Relations office is responsible for on- and off-campus publicity at Western. University Relations (UR) coordinates the release of news at WIU by delivering information in a timely fashion in a format and quantity the media can use.

Working with all segments of the University community, UR staff:

  1. Prepare news/feature stories on activities and events that are sponsored, funded, or hosted by the University for distribution to the appropriate newspapers, radio and television stations, wire services, magazines, and other media outlets throughout the region, state, and nation.
  2. Facilitate news media coverage of WIU programs, student and faculty research, and other related events by providing background information, scheduling interviews with news media representatives, and coordinating public affairs and public service reports and announcements whenever possible.
  3. Publish Campus Connection, a weekly newsletter distributed to faculty, staff, campus and community audiences about matters pertaining to the University.
  4. Publish Western News, a quarterly tabloid distributed to WIU alumni, donors, faculty, and staff which keeps readers up-to-date and in touch about issues of interest to alumni and friends of WIU.
  5. Provide information through a University Relations/News Bulletin Board on the University’s local area computer network (LAN).
  6. Publish information about WIU on the World Wide Web including Web editions of Campus Connection and Western News. University Relations maintains the presentation of upper level WIU official home pages on the Web.
  7. Coordinate and conduct press and news conferences on- and off-campus pertaining to University issues and/or people of interest to the public.
  8. Work with media representatives as the official University spokesperson in times of emergency.
  9. Promote WIU faculty and staff expertise through an experts directory provided to news media and available through the WIU Web site. University Relations participates in ProfNet, an international network of university public relations and information officers which respond to news media inquiries through the Internet and the Web.
  10. Provide assistance to WIU personnel in how to work with news media, including support materials explaining the role of the media, advice in dealing with situations, and training for television interviews.
  11. Participate in WIU marketing programs, working with admissions in targeting information to selected markets and providing assistance in the appropriate usage of the University’s official logo, mission, and positioning statements.
  12. Promote the availability of volunteer WIU faculty and staff speakers willing to talk to area clubs, businesses, school groups, and others on topics of expertise.

Using University Relations for Media and Publicity:

Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to contact UR on any item containing potential news value, or any matter related to University news or publicity. University Relations staff visit campus offices on a regular basis, but assistance is needed in identifying potential stories. WIU faculty, staff, and students who have ideas or information for stories are encouraged to call University Relations, send a note in campus mail, or send an electronic message via cc:mail. The information does not have to be in news release form. Information provided should include basic facts, a contact person, and a phone number for that person.

If information is for an upcoming event, submit the press release information at least two weeks prior to the activity or registration deadline. This is essential as most media outlets require seven to 10 days advance notice for calendar and public service announcement sections. Information should include who is holding the event, when and where it will be held, the purpose, featured participants, intended audience, cost of admission, etc. Also include the name and a phone number for a contact person.

University Relations staff maintains current listings of area newspapers, radio, and television outlets. Distribution of information to the media is done by mail, fax, e-mail, telephone, and personal delivery, depending on the news event.

What's Important to the News Media:

Western programs and events are frequently of high interest to specific groups. Special lectures in science, math, sociology, athletics, and education are important and well-attended by people in those specific disciplines. However, what might be a sensational program for psychology students or economists may, according to a newspaper editor, have little appeal to the general public.

University Relations audits WIU print media coverage in several regional newspapers. We visit editors and radio and television news directors to better understand their information needs and how our staff can be helpful in providing University information of interest to their respective audiences. Based on these interviews and surveys, we learn what some news media representatives feel is important and what is not. As a result, University Relations staff prioritizes efforts on information items which illustrate the University’s mission and qualities to satisfy the information needs of the news media. The need to prioritize influences the distribution of news and publicity information on campus programs, activities, and events.

Handling Media Emergencies:

When the University is faced with a situation where the news media and public want information about a major emergency, crisis, or crime that involves Western, its students, faculty, and staff, it is important the media clearly understand the situation. In these circumstances, the Office of University Relations should be involved in working with the news media.

It is not always easy to recognize what type of situation may be of interest to the news media. Criteria might include an impact on a large number of people, the use of emergency vehicles and personnel, and the impact on the safety and well-being of the campus or community.

If the Office of Public Safety is involved, they will take responsibility for informing University Relations of the situation. A determination as to what type of information announcement is necessary will be made between University Relations and the office(s) involved. If University Relations wants additional information from parties directly involved, UR staff will call.

WIU has operated under the policy that news media representatives have access to the campus. Media representatives may call and seek commentary from those who have been involved in incidents. It has been University policy that supervisors who have responsibility for the situation may respond to media inquiries. As some situations can produce numerous inquiries or may be extremely sensitive, supervisors may wish to refer media requests for information to University Relations. The UR office is used as the University spokesperson in these situations. University Relations staff members are accustomed to talking with the media and can relieve media pressure from University officials. Sometimes media will contact University Relations first, but reporters are not required to do so.

To notify University Relations, call 298-1993. If the situation takes place after hours, you will get a message indicating which staff member is on call and a telephone number if immediate attention is required.

When a Reporter Calls:

  1. Obtain the reporter's name and media affiliation and how you can help the reporter. If you are not the appropriate person to respond to the question, refer the reporter to University Relations.
  2. Try to schedule a face-to-face interview with the reporter, particularly when discussing complex materials that need in-depth explanation. If not feasible, a telephone interview is acceptable to get your point across rather than lose the opportunity to respond.
  3. If you are not prepared when a reporter calls, say you need a few minutes to pull some support materials and will call back in 15 minutes. Respect a reporter's deadlines. In many cases, they need a response in minutes. Failing to respond may give the perception of a negative situation.
  4. Have a message. Prepare a single communication objective and two or three secondary points. This will help assure your answers are consistent and complete, especially if you are responding to different reporters on the same topic.
  5. Be brief, especially when talking to radio and television reporters. State your point in simple, positive terms. Avoid repeating negative words from a reporter's question. Audiences are won by attitudes of those interviewed. Be sincere, compassionate, knowledgeable, and energetic. Don't fan controversy.
  6. Assume everything you say to a reporter, even in a social setting, may appear in print. Information you offer as background -- not for quotation -- may appear in a story attributed to a "spokesperson or anonymous source".
  7. Be friendly, but don’t be lured into flippancy or forced humor. "Cute" remarks will fall flat on tape or in print.
  8. Understand that conflict is news; routine isn't. Reporters may frame questions to bring out the conflict in a story. The reporter is after the story, not the person being interviewed.
  9. Don't expect a reporter to show you the story before it is broadcast or printed. If you believe a point has not been understood, follow up with a phone call for clarification.
  10. If you are misquoted, contact the reporter rather than the editor or news director (University Relations can assist in this area). Do not overreact, especially if an error is minor or not quite the choice of words you would have made. Reporters are willing to correct honest mistakes.
  11. Avoid "no comment" answers. They suggest guilt or evasion. Explain why you are unable to respond. Some options are: "We do not have sufficient information to form a response" or "We have just received the material and will need time to study before responding".
  12. Above all, be honest. In some cases the truth hurts, but lies are deadly. If you don't know the answer, say so. If possible, help the reporter get the answer or refer the reporter to University Relations.

Additional Services:

  1. Media Clips:
    University Relations maintains a clipping system of several selected newspapers and Illinois publications. Clippings are compiled and a listing of those clippings is sent to selected campus units during the regular school year. University staff who obtain clippings from newspapers outside the regular western Illinois circulation region and professional publications are asked to share copies with University Relations.
  2. General University Information Files:
    University Relations keeps extensive files of news releases, clippings, and related documents on campus programs and facilities as well as WIU employees, including emeriti staff and other former officers. Biographical information is typically used to prepare news releases and respond to media inquiries. General information about the University and its programs is available. Any faculty or staff member who wishes to update their resume on file with University Relations should submit an updated vita to our office.
  3. Media Training:
    University Relations can offer advice in dealing with news media. Media training programs are made available on a request basis to prepare WIU personnel in how to respond to interviews from television reporters and other members of the news media. Faculty and staff interested in this training should contact University Relations for information.
  4. News Photos:
    When you desire pictures for the release of news information, contact University Relations to coordinate arrangements with the Visual Production Center (VPC) at WIU. The competition for picture space in news publications is keen, and the cost of photography is increasing. In order to keep costs of photography at a reasonable level, University Relations approves news and publicity photo requests. Photo services for other purposes must be arranged on a cost recovery basis with VPC, Memorial Hall.
  5. Freedom of Information (FOI) Issues:
    The Assistant Vice President of University Relations is the campus Freedom of Information officer. Questions regarding the availability of records to the public may be referred to the FOI officer.

Sports Information Office:

Men's and women's intercollegiate athletic programs have the services of a Sports Information Office with a staff to promote Western's National Collegiate Athletic Association programs. Sports information staff work with sports editors, reporters, and broadcasters, as well as athletic conference representatives. Students, faculty, and staff who have information regarding sports-related items are encouraged to contact the Sports Information Office in Western Hall 213.


The services provided by University Relations ensure the University's identity in print is conveyed in a consistently effective way. The collective talents of our design, editing and administrative personnel provide the experience necessary to create effective publications for your department.

  1. Planning:
    Longstanding policies and regulations require that all University-funded publications for external distribution be approved by publications staff in the Office of University Relations.

    Greater perspective is achieved by involving publications staff in the earliest planning stages. On average a new publication takes about six to eight weeks to produce. Reprints or less complex jobs may take less time. Projects that require formal bidding and extensive design often require eight to 12 weeks.

    Publications provides services in editing, design, layout, photo requests and other aspects of printing production management. In providing these services, our responsibility is to assure University-funded publications meet University image standards. Projects are handled on a priority basis. For example, a student recruitment publication which contains information on campus visit dates may require attention before a project on a service program. Please call to schedule an appointment with publications staff.
  2. Request for Purchase:
    Begin all printing requests with a signed Request for Purchase (RFP) form. Printing will not be arranged without established funding, which is classified as commodities. Publications will help provide description (printing specifications), the suggested vendors, and estimated total cost. Independent purchases associated with, but apart from printing, such as color separations, the scanning of photos, typesetting or other pre-production costs, are commodities costs and will be billed separately.
  3. Writing:
    Because you know the most about your program, we ask that you write the original draft of the publication. Information intended to recruit or retain students, as well as public affairs materials, will be edited for accuracy and clarity. Editing assures adherence to University writing and organizational styles.
  4. We're Here to Help:
    Publications staff will provide you with an outline so your information is consistent with other recruiting materials. We can show you examples of other brochures that may help you plan yours. We're up-to-date on University statistics and information. Ask our editor for current statistics or background information.
  5. Publication Preparation:
    Arrange your material in the order you want to see it printed. When preparing a department flat sheet flier or graduate brochure, refer to outlines provided by publications. Submit your copy on a 3" disk (DOS or Macintosh in ASCII format) and paper (hard copy). You may also submit your material electronically, via cc:mail.

    Please provide text only; do not provide a designed document as some design software (e.g. PageMaker) are not compatible with software used in publications. Use one space after periods between sentences and double space lines of copy. All copy should be typed with normal use of capital and lowercase letters. Use of all caps should be avoided. Indicate words that need to be emphasized by highlighting them with a marker on the hard copy. Be sure to identify titles of books, periodicals, and articles so that they may be typeset correctly, in italics.

    Before bringing the manuscript to publications, proofread it carefully and keep a copy for yourself. If, after proofreading, you have to make corrections or brief insertions, write them in red ink above the line involved.
  6. Editorial Style:
    Decisions on grammar and usage are based on The Chicago Manual of Style and Webster's New International Dictionary.
  7. Copy Approval:
    Once edited, copy will be submitted for approval by publications to the requesting agent. Check the copy closely at this time. This is the best time to alter the copy before it is typeset. After that, alterations cost your department additional money and time.
  8. Graphic Design:
    All publications intended for off-campus circulation, to recruit students, stimulate public awareness, or raise funds, are laid out by a publications graphics designer. After the publication is arranged and the text is edited, a meeting with the designer allows you to share information represented by graphics, photography, or other method.
  9. Typesetting and Proofing:
    The pre-press work for your publication is done on computers. Once your publication is typeset, you will be contacted to proofread your document in Sherman Hall 302. After final approval, the publication is sent to a commercial printer on SyQuest or floppy disks, or is output on a Linotronic 300. The Linotronic uses advanced laser technology and produces resolutions up to 2,540 lines per inch to ensure high quality printing.

    The printer will provide this office with a blueline or color proof of the printed material for publications staff and the client to proof before receiving final printing. Clients are given time to proof the material. However, keep in mind that any alterations made to the printer's proof will cost the client additional money and time. The final copy will be delivered within seven to 10 working days (in some cases, e.g. catalogs, folders, 20 working days) after the proof is returned to the printer.
  10. Delivery:
    Unless indicated otherwise, your publication is delivered by Physical Plant personnel or printing vendor to your office.

Publication Policies and Graphic Standards:

  1. University Logo:
    The University logo is the primary identifier to its public and is the trademark property of Western Illinois University. The logo is a combination of lower cased Raleigh Outline and Garamond Book typefaces. To maintain a consistent image, this logo is shown on all publications. The logo must be used intact and may not be altered. Camera-ready logos are available through the University Relations office.
  2. University Seal:
    Use of the University seal, an adaption of the state of Illinois seal, is reserved for authorized University documents such as diplomas, certificates, and other publications associated with formal occasions hosted by the president. Use of the seal must be authorized by University Relations.
  3. Athletics Logo:
    The athletics logo is the trademark property of Western Illinois University. Logo usage requires a license or authorization agreement from WIU and the TM (trademark) designation must appear with all uses. The logo must be printed in Pantone Violet and Pantone Matching System (PMS) TM 116 Gold. Black or Pantone Violet may be used if only one color is available.
  4. Trademark Licensing Information:
    The University asserts ownership over its name and any other mark or symbol that is associated with or refers to the University. Any product bearing identifying marks and logos which can be interpreted as representing WIU must be licensed. Any individual, organization or company wishing to use Western Illinois University's name, marks or logos for commercial venture, promotion or advertising must obtain a license. For more information on WIU's trademark licensing program, contact University Relations.