Connecting with Journalists: One Idea to Open the Door

June 5, 2017

While scanning the day's headlines, you may come across an article on a topic related to research or other work occurring in your colleges, schools or departments. You may wish to use that article as a way to introduce yourself—and open the door—to the journalist. By doing so, it demonstrates interest in his or her reporting and, most importantly, you can provide U of M sources should he or she continue to write on the topic from a different direction or viewpoint.

For example, below is an email University Relations frequently sends to journalists after seeing national articles on addiction.

If you receive a response from the journalist acknowledging your email, you have opened the door to future outreach. You should add him or her to your media list and send periodic updates on interesting news from your colleges, schools or departments.

We hope this is helpful as another way to connect with journalists and expand your media contacts. If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please feel to reach out to Brad Robideau in University Relations at brobidea@umn.edu or 612-625-8431.

Example email:

Subject line: University of Minnesota research to end addiction

Dear Ms. Doe:

Greetings from the University of Minnesota.

I read your recent article, "XXXXXX," and thought you might be interested to learn about important research underway at the University of Minnesota to end addiction as you continue to cover this important issue.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are tackling addiction from these angles:

Develop nonaddictive pain medications: What if we had painkilling drugs that never reached the brain? It would mean pain relief without the threat of addiction. Neuroscience professor George Wilcox's goal is to prevent addiction to analgesic drugs by restricting their action to the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.

Create painkillers that won't reach the brain: Keeping painkilling drugs out of the brain would prevent addiction. Pharmaceutics professor Carolyn Fairbanks wants to keep pain impulses and potentially addictive painkilling drugs away from the brain. That means restricting them to peripheral areas like skin and internal organs or to the spinal cord.

Map the brain to predict those most likely to relapse: If we could predict which people recovering from addiction were most likely to relapse, efforts to prevent it could be more effectively directed. Psychiatry professor Kelvin Lim is out to make that possible.

Find the switch that turns off addiction: An estimated 80-90 percent of people recovering from addiction relapse within a year. Neuroscience associate professor Mark Thomas is committed to finding a neural "switch" that can turn off relapse behavior. If the switch could be thrown and the signal for relapse interrupted, it would help people recovering from addiction stay abstinent.

Putting addiction into context. News on the genetics of addiction can crowd out information about its social and environmental context. Center for Learning Innovation associate professor Molly Dingel seeks to encourage people to understand addiction as a complex phenomenon that involves both biology and a person's social and environmental context.

You can hear from the researchers and find out more about their work at:
http://driven-to-discover.umn.edu/end-addiction.

We also have a video on University of Minnesota research to make opioids safer: https://youtu.be/nMpz-eDWthQ.

I hope you find this helpful. If you have any questions or need additional information about this research for future articles, please let me know.

I appreciate your time and consideration and look forward to the opportunity to make the University of Minnesota a resource for you.

Sincerely,
Brad Robideau