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Media Engagement Procedure

Procedure overview

1 Purpose

To outline the requirements for University Members and Students in dealing with interactions with the Media as provided in the Media Engagement Policy.

2 Scope

This procedure applies when a University Member or Student:

  • is authorised to represent the University in the Media for University business purposes; and/or
  • makes reference to the University when interacting with the Media in a personal capacity.

Exclusions:

This procedure does not apply to personal interaction with:

  • the Media, where a University Member or Student makes no reference to University related issues
  • internal University publications.

3 Procedure Overview

This procedure outlines the processes to be followed when interacting with the Media.

4 Procedures

4.1 Media contact

The Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) will be notified of University Members or Students authorised by the Vice-Chancellor to comment on University management issues in advance of comment being made.

Authorised University Members or Students must attend appropriate Media training as arranged by the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations).

4.2 Categories of Media comment

Media comment will generally fall into three categories:

  • University comment
  • Academic and expert comment
  • Private individual comment.

4.2.1 University comment

A University Member or Student may make comment as an authorised University representative on the general state of the University, including its strategies, policies, offerings, and other institutional matters.

The purpose and intent of this category of comment is to ensure that accurate and consistent information is provided to the Media on matters relating to the management of the University.

Examples of these matters include but are not limited to:

  • University policies and higher education policies as they relate to the University;
  • budget issues;
  • security and emergency issues;
  • work health and safety issues;
  • news about Enrolments;
  • appropriate Student-related issues;
  • capital works;
  • academic and teaching developments or innovations;
  • research issues;
  • cultural or environmental issues;
  • organisational change;
  • industrial relations matters; or
  • the securing of major grants or sponsorships.

No University Member or Student is permitted to make comment on behalf of the University without approval from the Vice-Chancellor. Comments may be inappropriately taken as representing the University's view or may bind the University in some circumstances.

Any University comment must not endorse, either directly or indirectly, any product or political campaign or candidate.

Any University comment must not directly endorse any commercial arrangements/sponsorships.

Any Media inquiry or request for University comment relating to the University's policies, procedures or institutional activities is to be directed in the first instance to the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations). The Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) will subsequently consult with the Vice-Chancellor and provide advice, as required, to the spokesperson authorised by the Vice-Chancellor to respond to the inquiry.

4.2.1.1 Official University spokespersons

The Vice-Chancellor is the official spokesperson of the University. This role may be delegated to an appropriate University Member or Student by the Vice-Chancellor, depending on the particular issue.

4.2.1.2 Media release approval

All Media releases are to be approved by the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations), or authorised representative, unless otherwise authorised by the Vice-Chancellor. This is to ensure that:

  • the content of the Media release is written in a professional and consistent style and tone;
  • information is conveyed in an appropriate manner;
  • the Office of Corporate Communication and Public Relations is aware of all editorials that are released and can arrange appropriate on-site spokespersons; and
  • the Office of Corporate Communication and Public Relations can consider the timing of Media releases in the broader context of the University's strategic objectives.

Media releases may be distributed by University Members or Students to personal Media contacts, but only after release has been approved by the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) or authorised representative.

4.2.2 Academic and expert comment

A University Member or Student may identify as a member of the University community and make academic and expert comment in an area of expertise and responsibility when:

  • participating in public debates
  • expressing opinions about issues and ideas related to discipline/specialist areas or higher education issues more generally
  • initiating and responding to any Media issues that may arise within an area of expertise.

University Members and Students must not purport to represent or speak on behalf of the University community unless authorised to do so by the Vice-Chancellor and the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations).

University Members or Students may be approached by the Office of Corporate Communication and Public Relations or the Media directly, seeking comment on:

  • an area which falls within their professional expertise;
  • an area pertaining to higher education; or
  • an issue of public interest.

Where comments are offered in the Media by academic or professional Employees it is expected that such comment will normally lay within their field of expertise.

Subject to applicable laws and University policies, members of the University community are free to contribute to public debate. The University is committed to maintaining intellectual freedom and enquiry, and in this regard, Employees are free to speak to the Media, or in any other forum, in their capacity as academic or professional Employees.

For any University Member or Student making a comment identifiable as a University Employee or Student, it is important to consider how comments will reflect on the reputation of peers and the University. Authorised University Members or Students must therefore contact the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) and consult with their relevant peers, as appropriate, before commenting to the Media, or as soon as practicable when direct approaches by the Media have been made.

While University Members or Students are free to speak, they may wish to avoid comment. The freedom to speak does not mean a University Member or Student is required to speak.

The right to speak is subject to the law, including the laws of defamation and discrimination, laws regulating harassment, vilification and obscene speech and the provisions of the Information Privacy Act 2009, the Corporations Act 2001 and other legislation as provided in Section 7 of this procedure.

Any academic or expert comment must not endorse either directly or indirectly any political campaign or candidate, although comment on political or government policy within the area of expertise of the University Member or Student is acceptable. In those instances where a University Member or Student is running for public office, comment may be appropriate to their role at the University, provided that the involvement does not conflict with this role/ duties at the University.

4.2.3 Private individual comment

The right to freedom of opinion is the right to hold opinions without interference, and cannot be subject to any exception or restriction. The right to freedom of expression extends to any medium, including written and oral communications, the Media, public protest, broadcasting, artistic works and commercial advertising. The right is not absolute. It carries with it special responsibilities, and may be restricted on several grounds. For example, restrictions could relate to filtering access to certain internet sites, the provocation of violence or the classification of artistic material.

A University Member or Student may make private individual comment and freely express opinion in a private capacity if it is consistent with the principles of the University's Code of Conduct Policy, particularly Section 4.2 in relation to acting with integrity and impartiality when dealing with Employees, Students, external organisations and members of the community, and the Student Code of Conduct Policy. This includes comment as provided at Section 4.2.1.1 (above).

Public comment by University Members or Students in their capacity as private individuals is permitted provided that any such comment makes it clear that the view expressed is their own and not necessarily the view of the University. When commenting in this capacity University Members and/or Students must not identify themselves in any way as representative of the University.

It is not the intention of this procedure to restrict such rights of any University Member or Student.

It is not the intention of this procedure to restrict Media usage by any University Member or Student when used in a private manner, unless the University Member or Student is making reference to the University, its people or services, in which case the provisions of this policy apply.

4.3 Media and information releases

The Office of Corporate Communication and Public Relations is primarily responsible for drafting, editing and distributing Media releases on behalf of the University. University Members or Students may, however, also supply draft releases to the office for final editing and distribution.

While the author of the draft release is responsible for the accuracy of the content, the Office of Corporate Communication and Public Relations will edit this material to improve its news value, readability or reader comprehension. All edited releases will be returned to the author for final endorsement before distribution.

Approval of Media releases is as provided in Section 4.2.1.2 of this procedure.

4.4 Dealing with the Media

The outcome of any Media engagement (with the exception of advertising) is a process that is controlled by the Media and not by the University or any of its members. Any University Member or Student dealing directly or indirectly with the Media, Media agencies and platforms must be aware of how the University is perceived and represented.

All comments made to the Media will be considered as 'on the record', regardless of any commitment given by a member of the Media that a comment is 'off the record'.

Media enquiries will be responded to as soon as practicable, being respectful of Media deadlines and responsive to requests from the Media, without breaching the University's policies and procedures or compromising the University's reputation, image or brand.

4.5 Responsibilities

To ensure the University is represented consistently and cohesively, the Office of Corporate Communication and Public Relations will coordinate all University engagement with the Media for the purposes of official University comment.

Where there is not a clear contact person on a particular matter, an authorised spokesperson will be determined by the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations), in consultation with the Vice-Chancellor or nominee.

University Members or Students must advise the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) of likely or possible University announcements, on a confidential basis if necessary. This allows for sufficient planning for the University to either maximise the potential for positive coverage of important or strategic developments or minimise any potential negative impact.

University Members or Students must also provide advance notice to the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) of any issues which are likely to negatively impact the University's image and reputation.

4.6 Media issues

All dealings with any member of the Media, Media agencies and platforms must be conducted with courtesy. Should a University Member or Student have a concern or grievance against any section of the Media in their capacity as a member of the University community, they must inform the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations), not the Media.

The Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) will decide what, if any, action will be taken. In making this decision, the Director (Corporate Communication and Public Relations) will, dependent upon the nature of the complaint and the parties involved, liaise with other relevant sections of the University. The nature of action taken will be decided on a case by case basis and according to the severity of the case.

4.7 Crisis communication

Should an event occur, or be likely to occur, which may have a significant detrimental impact upon the reputation of the University (such as serious assault, Student demonstration, building collapse, financial situations, or any occasion on which the emergency services are called onto a campus of the University), interaction with the Media will be as provided in the Crisis Communications Plan and the Crisis Management Plan (under development).

4.8 Breaches of this procedure

To engage with the Media in any activity or comment which is malicious or deliberately damaging to the University, or which represents a personal viewpoint as a viewpoint held by the University will be considered a breach of this policy and may also be deemed a breach of the Code of Conduct Policy or the Student Code of Conduct Policy.

University Members other than Employees and Students who do not comply with this policy may have their association and/or Enrolment with the University terminated, or have their right of access to University services, facilities or infrastructure revoked.

Relevant breaches may also have consequences for University Members and Students under criminal or civil jurisdictions.

5 References

Nil.

6 Schedules

This procedure must be read in conjunction with its subordinate schedules as provided in the table below.

7 Procedure Information

Subordinate Schedules

Accountable Officer

Executive Director (Sustainable Business Management and Improvement)

Policy Type

University Procedure

Approved Date

28/1/2016

Effective Date

28/1/2016

Review Date

28/1/2019

Relevant Legislation

Anti-Discrimination Act 1991

Corporations Act 2001

Corporations (Queensland) Act 1990

Defamation Act 2005

Evidence Act 1977

Health Act 1937

Information Privacy Act 2009

Integrity Act 2009

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (Qld)

Public Health Act 2005

Right to Information Act 2009

Related Policies

Acceptable use of ICT Resources Policy

Business Continuity Policy

Code of Conduct Policy

Conflict of Interest Policy (under development)

Handling Personal Student Information Policy and Procedure

Intellectual Property Policy and Procedure

Media Engagement Policy

Privacy Policy

Public Interest Disclosure Policy and Procedure

Research Code of Conduct Policy

Right to Information Policy

Risk Management Policy and Procedure

Student Code of Conduct Policy

Related Procedures

Disciplinary Action for Misconduct or Serious Misconduct Procedure

Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Complaints against Employees Procedure

Employee Conflict of Interest Procedure

Prevention of Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Procedure

Right to Information Procedure

Related forms, publications and websites

Crisis Communications Plan (under development)

Crisis Management Plan (under development)

Right to freedom of opinion and expression guidance sheet

Definitions

Terms defined in the Definitions Dictionary

Employee

A person employed by the University and whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement and includes persons employed on a continuing, fixed term or casual basis. Employees also include senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University....moreA person employed by the University and whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement and includes persons employed on a continuing, fixed term or casual basis. Employees also include senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University.

Enrolment

The process of admitting Students to one or more Courses for the current Academic Year....moreThe process of admitting Students to one or more Courses for the current Academic Year.

Media

All print, radio, television and electronic Media including the internet and allied distribution channels. Includes social Media which are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog, podcast, forum, wiki, or video hosting site. More broadly, social Media refers to any online technology that enables people...moreAll print, radio, television and electronic Media including the internet and allied distribution channels. Includes social Media which are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog, podcast, forum, wiki, or video hosting site. More broadly, social Media refers to any online technology that enables people to publish, converse and share content online.

Student

A person who has been Admitted or Enrolled at the University, but has not yet graduated from their Academic Program....moreA person who has been Admitted or Enrolled at the University, but has not yet graduated from their Academic Program.

University

The term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland....moreThe term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland.

University Members

Employees of the University whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement whether full time or fractional, continuing, fixed-term or casual, including senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University; Members of the University Council and University Committees; Visiting and adjunct academics; Volun...moreEmployees of the University whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement whether full time or fractional, continuing, fixed-term or casual, including senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University;Members of the University Council and University Committees;Visiting and adjunct academics;Volunteers who contribute to University activities or who act on behalf of the University;Individuals who are granted access to University facilities or who are engaged in providing services to the University, such as contractors and consultants, where applicable.

Vice-Chancellor

The person bearing the title of Vice-Chancellor and President, or as otherwise defined in the University of Southern Queensland Act 1998, including a person acting in that position....moreThe person bearing the title of Vice-Chancellor and President, or as otherwise defined in the University of Southern Queensland Act 1998, including a person acting in that position.

Definitions that relate to this procedure only

Keywords

Media, social Media, public relations, press release, corporate information, communication standard, communications standard

Record No

15/286PL

Failure to comply with this Policy or Policy Instrument may be considered as misconduct and the provisions of the relevant Policy or Procedure applied.

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