Submitting Your News and Story Ideas
University Communications produces several high-visibility print and online products used to communicate with the campus community, the news media and other audiences.
We welcome submissions from campus units for distribution to the general and specialized audiences via our products, including Inside UW–Madison, the university’s employee e-newsletter, our news website, and the UW–Madison home page.
To help streamline collecting and distributing your news, please read the following guidelines.
Where to submit items
Email your news items to email@example.com. If you regularly work with a member of our staff, please copy that individual. Sending your item to firstname.lastname@example.org places it in the electronic “inbox” of editors who will review and confer about your submission.
If you have an item specifically for publication in Inside UW–Madison, send it to email@example.com. It will be reviewed by the Inside UW–Madison staff.
If your school or college, department or program has its own communicator on staff, please contact him or her first. Most of them have established working relationships with University Communications and should be your initial point of contact when you have news or story ideas to share.
FAQs: Submitting stories/releases
What makes a good story?
To help us promote your project or activity, look for these news elements as a way to strengthen your story idea:
- Uniqueness: Are you doing something that hasn’t been done before? What is the fresh twist?
- Utility: Will your information be particularly useful in some way to a general or specialized audience?
- Human interest: Are there any appealing individuals with whom the audience can identify?
We especially value stories about how the research and teaching happening here are of direct benefit to society. If you know about a project or program that enhances quality of life, stimulates the economy, improves health care or education, or otherwise positively influences the world in tangible ways, we want to hear about it.
What types of stories are less likely to be accepted?
There are so many events on campus that we can’t possibly publicize them all. In most cases, event releases are better directed to the Events Calendar. There are occasionally exceptions for unique events or those likely to spark wide interest.
Stories about grants and awards rarely appeal to a broad audience and are discouraged. Stories that focus on the work that is being done as a result of a grant are of greater interest and will be considered.
How can I write an attention-getting news release?
- Avoid overstatement and cliché. Don’t claim to be the first, the only or the unique unless you can prove it.
- Avoid contrived quotes that merely get someone’s name in the copy.
- Proofread prior to submission. Spelling or grammar mistakes undermine credibility.
University Communications can help you judge the newsworthiness of your item and help you refine a release to maximize media attention.
What format works best?
We prefer to receive submissions as a Word attachment to an email message. If your news is or will be posted on your own website, please email us the link. Sometimes, rather than or in addition to sending your news out as a general release, it will be linked to your site from the home page, news page or Inside UW–Madison. If you are not asking for a media distribution but would like your news considered for Web posting, just sending the link is sufficient.
How long should my story be?
Think “less is more.” In other words, keep it short. We reserve the right to edit items for length if they are more than about 500-600 words. We may return lengthy items to you to condense.
In what style should news be written?
In preparing a submission, write clearly, addressing who, what, where, why and when in the first two paragraphs. Identify yourself, your department or unit, and include the name, daytime phone number and e-mail (if available) of someone we can contact if we have questions about the item. Date the item and indicate whether the material is for immediate use or for release at a later date.
Submissions are rarely used exactly as written. Items may be edited for length, clarity, and to conform with journalistic style. If your submission is laden with technical jargon that only an expert would understand, it may be returned to you for revision.
Lastly, if you want to write a longer feature article for publication in Inside UW–Madison or one of our other products, it’s best to discuss the idea with UComm staff first.
What are the most common mistakes in submitted items?
Three types of mistakes typically delay or prevent publication or distribution:
- Providing insufficient or inaccurate information, especially for addresses, spellings and job titles.
- Omitting the name and phone number of a contact who can answer questions.
- Submitting an item too late for publication deadlines.
When is the deadline to submit?
Two weeks lead time is appreciated, but we recognize the need to sometimes publish important items on short notice. Let us know if there is a specific date by which your news must be posted, and please allow plenty of time before then for us to edit, format and schedule your story.
Do you use submitted photographs?
We will consider submitted, high-resolution, publication-quality photographs, such as headshots, candids portraying the activity the story is about, and scientific images if the content is clear enough to be explained in a brief caption. Please include a caption and credit information for each submitted photo.
We are unlikely to use staged photos of people shaking hands, presenting plaques, breaking ground, etc. Poorly composed, focused or lit photos cannot be used.
Who can answer other questions?
- Bill Graf, 265-0476, can address questions about Inside UW–Madison and the editing, distribution and posting of news releases and feature stories.