Media Relations Procedure
The Marketing and Public Information Office is responsible for the approval of Delta College public information. Only authorized employees may represent the college in official contact with the news media.
If you are directly contacted by a member of the media, please consult with the Director of Marketing before responding. Together, we will determine if you are the best spokesperson on the topic, and if so, discuss messaging. Responses to media inquiries need to be addressed immediately.
Scope and applicability
All employees and offices must utilize the Marketing department to assure uniform, timely and accurate dissemination of college information. The only exception is Athletics, which works directly with sports reporters, but includes the Marketing department on communications.
This policy ensures that the messaging to the public by Delta College is coordinated and deliberate, that it furthers the mission of the college, and that it reflects positively on the institution in order to promote community understanding of and support for the college. Employees have the right to express their own opinion, but must make it clear that they are not officially representing Delta.
Outreach tools covered by procedure
News media refers to print and electronic news media, including but not limited to radio and television stations, newspapers, blogs and magazines, regardless of whether online or otherwise delivered.
Publications refers to marketing material intended for public dissemination, whether distributed in printed or electronic form (including online).
- All employees and offices are expected to promote the college and its activities in cooperation with the Marketing department.
- Employees have the right to the freedom of expression. Unless authorized as a spokesperson, a Delta College employee who interacts with the news media must make it clear to the media representative(s) that they are not representing Delta.
- The position of official spokesperson for Delta College is reserved for the President, the Board Chair, the Director of Marketing and Public Information, or their designees.
- If a faculty member is contacted by the media to discuss their program, they must inform Marketing of the interaction and discuss the opportunity.
- Strengthening Delta College’s image and reputation by positively influencing perceptions of the college’s capabilities, resources, programs, faculty and culture.
- Making Delta better known as a resource for advancing education in our region.
- Strengthening Delta's profile in the news and educational media.
- Developing and adopting consistent messages which are managed throughout all media.
- Extending broader awareness of the role and value of community colleges.
- Communicating accurate, honest information to constituents and the media.
“Media relations” is the interaction with members of the news media to tell the Delta College story. Members of the Marketing and Public Information Office manage the college’s reputation by maintaining a positive community profile, which includes gaining coverage of Delta’s many newsworthy programs, projects and initiatives. The Marketing department has primary responsibility for media relations at Delta College.
Responding to requests from media
On occasion, faculty and staff at Delta College may be contacted by members of the media. When faculty and staff members are asked to comment or provide information on a question or an issue that relates to the entire college, or is controversial or sensitive in nature, the reporter must be referred to the Marketing and Public Information Office. Marketing will then, in conjunction with senior administration, determine the appropriate spokesperson and response on behalf of the college.
If a member of the news media contacts a faculty or staff member directly to ask for a comment on a topic that is within an employee’s area of expertise, the employee may answer the questions, if so desired. In such cases, the faculty or staff member should immediately notify the Marketing department after speaking with the reporter. Such notifications can be particularly important if follow-up inquiries are needed with other college personnel, and to ensure the college communicates a coordinated and consistent response. If you are unsure how to answer the question or have any doubts, ask for the questions from the reporter and inform the reporter you will get back to him/her. Contact the Marketing and Public Information Office, which can provide assistance developing answers to those questions.
Best practices in dealing with media
When the issue is non-controversial and limited to the faculty or staff member’s area of expertise, the following guidelines should be utilized when dealing with the media.
- Obtain the name of the person calling, the media organization and, if available, the anticipated release date for the print or broadcast interview. If needed, provide your name and phone number for any follow-up questions the reporter may have. This information should be included when notifying the Marketing department.
- Be prompt, honest and helpful; do not offer speculation or answer a reporter’s question with “no comment.” Make sure you understand the reporter’s question and that the reporter understands your response. You can ask the reporter to repeat your comment or quote for clarification. Remember everything is on the record when speaking with the media.
- In responding to the media, you can be seen as representing and speaking for the college. Personal opinions should be clearly and carefully identified as such. Issues that should not be discussed with reporters, but forwarded to Marketing and Public Information Office for follow-up include: legal issues, personnel issues, student issues, campus crisis or emergency response, or questions that involve college ethics or integrity. The Marketing and Public Information Office will coordinate with senior administration, Human Resources and/or Student Services to determine the appropriate response, if needed.
FERPA and FOIA requests
As a state institution, Delta College is governed by the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which allows certain information to be provided to anyone who asks, including members of the public and the news media. However, as an institution of higher education, the college is also governed by federal and state laws that limit the type of information that can be divulged about students and employees.
Any media inquiries that involve information about specific students should be referred to the Marketing department, which will coordinate a response with the Student Services Office. Such inquires must be handled in accordance to the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA).
This federal law protects the confidentiality of a student’s education record. Directory information can be released without written consent of the student. Please consult Student Services for the most current list of student data considered Directory Information. All other information is confidential and will be released only with written consent from the student for legitimate college purposes or as otherwise required by law.
Reminder: Anyone, including the media, may ask for information through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). If you receive a FOIA request you must immediately forward it to Delta’s FOIA administrator. Those types of requests have very specific response guidelines and timelines.