Communications Toolkit for Academics

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Communications and Brand Strategy (CABS)? CABS is MSU's central communications team. We increase visibility and esteem for MSU, helping take university communications, engagement and support to a higher level. For more information, visit our website, cabs.msu.edu
  • I have a research paper coming out that may be of interest to the public. Who should I contact? The CABS media team writes press releases on published research that it determines is newsworthy. If we don’t believe top-tier media will be interested, we will try to offer alternative ways you can publicize your work. Each media team member covers different beats and colleges so please refer to this directory to find the appropriate person to talk to about your research: cabs.msu.edu/staff
  • I’ve been contacted by a reporter who wants to interview me, but I would like some training/advice before the interview. Who should I contact? Feel free to contact Jessi Adler or Kim Ward in CABS who can help. Jessi.adler@cabs.msu.edu or kim.ward@cabs.msu.edu

Communication Myths:

  • “No one would follow me on Twitter.”
    It does take time to build followers on Twitter, but you can increase your followers by tweeting interesting information, commenting on others’ posts and following those who you find interesting. Start by following your college, the MSU institutional account and the MSU Newsroom account. These Twitter handles can be found in the Communications Toolkit under the Social Media tab. Also grow your following by linking to articles, blogs and stories in addition to posting your thoughts. And remember, it’s about quality not quantity.
  • “I don’t think I’d get any more attention if I was more proactive with my research than I do now. I have my relationships at journals, and that’s what matters.”
    Having relationships with journals isn’t enough these days. In an increasingly competitive industry with limited grant funding and decreasing public attention spans, you need to do all you can to be known. Making your work public will help journalists find you to interview you as an expert in your field. Grant funders also are asking grantees to show the impact of their dollars and that includes more than just publishing results in a journal.  
  • “I’m not really a digital-type of person.”
    The world is digital and we must learn to adapt with it. Libraries are online, newspapers are online, journals are online. Being able to cross-promote your research through online platforms will bring more exposure to your work and the university. You will reach a larger audience by being able to share a link to your research via social media channels.
  • “I don’t think the people who care about my research are paying attention to social media stuff.”
    You’d be surprised who is on social media. Top journalists, publications, grant funders all have social media accounts of some kind, and 25% of all verified accounts on Twitter are journalists. Journalists find experts and their research on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google searches.  
  • “It’s too much work to do a website of my own and I don’t know where to start.”
    Your website doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it needs to contain a few basics. Who you are, your research or projects (current and past), any publications, and contact information. The important part is to keep it updated and relevant for those searching. Journalists and future grad students use faculty websites to decide if you are an expert in your field and if they want to talk to or work with you. There are free platforms out there, such as WordPress, that are essentially pre-built, you just add content.
  • “Someone pitched my stuff to media before, it took a lot of time to get done and didn’t get placed.”
    Not every story will get picked up by the New York Times but there is a great chance it will be picked up by other outlets so it’s always worth it to let us know when you have research you think the general public might be interested in. We also have other methods such as social media, features, or The Conversation that we can use to spread messages.
  • “My research just doesn’t apply to everyone so it's not worth the effort in trying to find an angle.”
    Just because it doesn’t apply to everyone doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply to someone. Let the communications team help you be creative to find the right angle to pitch your story out. 
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