Expert alerts explained

Expert Alerts are one of several proactive tools the PR team uses to connect journalists with University of Minnesota expertise. Produced in partnership with campus, unit, or college communicators, this tool is designed to prompt journalists to schedule an interview and to build awareness of U of M expertise for future reporting.

Expert Alerts are turned around quickly and tied to the ever-changing news cycle. Topics might be related to specific weather events, new policies or laws, current economic issues, health concerns, or other timely themes.


The basic structure for an Expert Alert includes:

  • An introduction that describes the timely topic.
  • Brief quotes from the expert that provide insight in plain language.
  • A short biography highlighting the expert’s areas of interest and research and outreach activities.
  • A boilerplate with a high-level overview of the affiliated college or unit.

There are two key benefits to this structure—the quotes give reporters a sense of how the expert might respond to interview questions, and reporters can lift directly from the release to supplement their reporting.

Case Study: Weird Winter

Recent data shows temperatures in the Twin Cities this winter were about 10 degrees warmer than normal, beating the previous warmest winter on record (1877-78) by a full degree. Noting trending reporting—and the obvious lack of snow across the state—we worked with partners in CFANS in February to quickly position the U of M on this very timely topic.

Our Expert Alert (Will the lack of snow impact farmers this spring?) featured Southwest Research and Outreach Center Professor Jeffrey Strock’s comments on the potential agricultural implications of the unusual winter.

The release had the key elements needed for a great Expert Alert: it was well-timed to take advantage of local interest, highlighted the value of University research, and included compelling and approachable commentary for a general audience. Ultimately, this release resulted in interviews with several Twin Cities TV reporters, radio stations, and trade outlets. It was also republished in a handful of Greater Minnesota newspapers.

Expert database

Featured experts may also be added to the PR team’s database of University of Minnesota experts available to provide commentary, insights, and opinions on various news topics. This public, searchable database is shared as a resource for journalists and often highlighted via Expert Alerts. The primary stipulation for any faculty member is a willingness to be contacted by journalists directly and, as much as possible, make responding to media inquiries a priority.

Reach out to the PR team at to learn more about how we can help share University news and build relationships with the media. Read more recent Expert Alerts.