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Bulletin - 11 September 2009

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[ Photo of Jacqui ]

Jacqui Bealing
Senior Press Officer

You may have noticed that this column has undergone a change. I used to highlight media mentions of our academics. But now that the monthly Sussex in the News online round-up seems to be a better vehicle for that, I've taken to looking at themes based on our media coverage.

One of the issues for us - and for you who attract the media - is actually getting namechecks for Sussex. It would be marvellous if every positive press release, every media request and every unsolicited mention of an academic's work resulted in the name of the University of Sussex typed in bold on front pages or emblazoned across TV screens. But the reality is that it's all a bit hit-and-miss.

Dr Ben Rogaly discovered that his book, Moving Histories of Class and Community, was given a good write-up in the Guardian on 12 August, but no reader would have known he was one of ours as 'Sussex' didn't appear anywhere in the article. As a result, we didn't receive notification of it through our cuttings agency and the article won't count when we analyse our media coverage to see if we are raising the profile of Sussex. Naturally, none of this is Ben's fault. He wasn't even aware that the journalist was writing about him.

The flip side of namechecks, of course, is negative publicity. It is often the case that the story you least want Sussex to be associated with, no matter how tenuous the connection, is the one journalists hone in on - and the one that everyone remembers.

We also get namechecks when we shouldn't. For example, employees of companies based on the Sussex campus often become "Sussex researchers" even when they are not our academics. It's then up to the Press Office to correct misreporting and misunderstandings, which is rarely as straightforward as it sounds.

The important point to remember is that, if we want it, we have to remind the journalists to give us a plug.

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