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News release guidelines

UM’s media policy states that University Relations prepares and distributes all news releases and announcements (except those for Intercollegiate Athletics). University employees should not distribute news releases on their own. Please submit all news release requests to Cary Shimek, senior news editor, at cary.shimek@umontana.edu. He will assign all releases within the department.

University Relations aims to promote UM in the most effective way possible. The first factor we consider when determining if an item qualifies for a news release is the audience: the news media. We develop news releases for stories that have the best chance of attracting positive media coverage for the University. If University Relations sends out too many news releases on subjects the media do not deem newsworthy, it diminishes the credibility of the University as a whole.

Before requesting a news release, answer these questions about the item you’re submitting:

  • Is it about high-impact research findings appearing in a national peer-reviewed journal (especially research with clear clinical or practical implications)?
  • Is it a significant grant or award (generally speaking, more than $500,000)?
  • Is it about faculty or staff members receiving a state or national award or professional distinction?
  • Is it about the development of programs or initiatives that will affect a significant number of students or other members of the campus community?
  • Is it about initiatives or educational opportunities for the general public?
  • Does it relate to an issue of current significance (e.g.., climate change, elections, wolf hunting, etc.)
  • Does it appeal to or impact a broad swath of the public, not just a small subset?
    • Example: Publishing of a book that the general public could buy at a bookstore and would be interested in reading qualifies; publishing of an academic article appealing only to those in a particular discipline does not.
  • Is it a University-sponsored event that is open to the public and/or is appealing to members of the media?

If none of these applies to your submission, then it probably doesn’t qualify for a news release.

When submitting information for a news release, keep the 5 W’s and H of journalism in mind: Who, what, when, where, why and how. Be sure to include all pertinent information. University Relations will maintain the relevant details and omit the extraneous ones from the final release. University Relations also will edit the information to meet UM and Associated Press style requirements. 

University Relations prefers to send releases two weeks to 10 days ahead of events, so also keep that timeframe in mind when submitting requests

After preparing a draft using the information provided, University Relations will "vet" the release with the submitter to verify it is accurate as written. We do not send releases out to the media until they are reviewed by the source.

News releases are sent directly to news organizations. While University Relations can follow up and encourage them, members of the media are the final determiners on whether to pursue the story further, publish the release as written or do nothing with it at all. 

Further questions can be directed to Cary Shimek at 243-5914 or cary.shimek@umontana.edu.