POLICY GA MEDIA RELATIONS
The preparation and release of all information and publicity concerning the college, intended for distribution to the media, is coordinated by the Office of Marketing and Communications, unless otherwise authorized by the President.
The Office of Marketing and Communications functions as an information clearinghouse to avoid the duplication of materials that are released to the public, to maintain a consistent policy with regard to the standard and quality of publicity, and to ensure contacts with the media are coordinated through a central location and source. Media releases about official college news must be prepared by the staff of the Office of Marketing and Communications and be sent on South Plains College news release stationary. Media are advised not to use other items. The Executive Director of Marketing and Communications (or a designated representative) is the official spokesperson for the college in dealing with the media, unless otherwise designated by the President.
MEDIA REFERRALS FOR EMPLOYEES
All reporters requesting information about the college by telephone, letter, fax, e-mail, or personal visit must begin their inquiry in the Office of Marketing and Communications. Staff members in the Marketing and Communications Office will refer the reporter to the appropriate college representative if questions cannot be completely answered. In such cases, Marketing and Communications will telephone the designated college representative immediately if a reporter is referred. The reporter’s name, media organization, and as much information as possible, including the nature of the news topic and questions that could be expected, will be provided. If necessary, Marketing and Communications will coordinate a time and place for the reporter to interview the college representative.
Any employee who has been contacted by a reporter and has not received a media referral notice from the Office of Marketing and Communications, must refer the reporter’s request back to Marketing and Communications as follows:
"Have you talked with our Marketing and Communications Office about this? Let me connect you to their office. Thank you."
Transfer telephone inquiries from reporters to ext. 2212, 2211 or 2210.
If a reporter comes on campus to do a story and they have not been cleared by Marketing and Communications, the reporter shall be directed to one of the following offices, depending upon campus location:
§ Levelland Campus -- Visitors Center, Coordinator of News and Information
§ SPC Lubbock Career & Technical Education Center -- Executive Director of Lubbock Career & Technical Education Center and Work Force Development
§ SPC Reese Center/Lubbock Downtown Academic Center -- Dean of Reese and Lubbock Downtown Center.
§ Plainview Center – Director of the Plainview Center
In these instances, the Associate Dean of Student Support Services and the Provost shall contact the Office of Marketing and Recruitment to assist the reporter in gaining clearance.
In taking messages for someone to call a reporter, ask the specifics of what they want. No one likes to call a reporter when the subject is not known. E-mail a copy of the message to the Office of Marketing and Communications or call ext. 2212, 2211, or 2210.
When an employee receives a media referral to serve as a source of college information, the following basic media rules should be followed:
1. Return the reporter’s call. Don’t just not call back
2. Respond in a timely manner. Many newspaper and TV reporters operate on a tight deadline so plan to return the call within one hour of receiving the referral. Calling a newspaper reporter back today or tomorrow may mean the difference between an article appearing or not appearing in the newspaper or on TV.
3. Know the facts. Be prepared. If it is necessary to look up information, take the reporter’s name and telephone number and call back. If the answer to a question is not known, say so. "I don’t have the answer to that question. Allow me to call you back with that information." Either call the reporter back once you’ve found the information or refer the reporter to Marketing and Recruitment for further assistance.
4. Stick to the facts, not opinions or speculation.
5. Never mislead the facts. Don’t exaggerate.
6. If a touchy question is asked, don’t worry. Answer in your own time.
7. Be polite and courteous.
8. If a reporter conducts the interview on campus, the meeting should take place in a private area. If the interview is to occur in one’s office, hold telephone calls and other distractions.
9. Never say "No comment." Give the reporter the reason you cannot comment. "I don’t have all the facts in order to comment accurately on this situation."
10. Never go off the record. Nothing is off the record when talking to the media. It may appear in the next day’s paper. Always remember that an interview with a reporter is not a private conversation, no matter how warm the reporter is.
11. Reporters often use silence to get you to say something. When they get quiet, stay quiet as well. Simply behave as though the reporter is getting his or her thoughts together for the next question.
12. Stay away from jargon.
13. It is not necessary to answer everything, and don’t be defensive about it.
14. Do not ask a reporter to see or hear his or her story before it is published.
15. Don’t ask when the article will appear in the newspaper. Many times, the reporter does not know because that is determined by an editor. The Marketing and Communications Office will inform you when the article appears.
16. Do not give reporters college documents. These must be requested through the Public Information compliance officer, the Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, ext. 2210 or 2211.
17. Never release home phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses or street addresses for employees.
18. Never release student class schedules, telephone numbers or addresses.
19. All questions about members of the Board of Regents should be referred to the Office of the President, including requests for telephone numbers and addresses.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT AND TEXAS OPEN RECORDS ACT
South Plains College is bound by requirements and guidelines of the Freedom of Information Act, the Texas Open Records Act, the Privacy Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and other federal and state statutes in providing public and media access to official college documents and records. In general, college employees are not authorized to mail or hand out written information and documents to a reporter. All requests for documents must be made through the compliance office, the Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, by letter, form, email or fax. Freedom of Information or Open Records requests should be directed to 806-716-2217.
Adopted: July 24, 2000
Revised: August 1, 2022