The Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) recognizes the importance and benefits of communicating through various media outlets. Media is a powerful vehicle through which the VMBS disseminates relevant news and information to Texas A&M University, the Texas A&M University System, and to local, state, national, and international audiences. Media also allows us the opportunity to listen to perceptions about the VMBS and connect with the public in various formats.
Navigating through multiple outlets using various forms of media can be confusing, as there are constant changes in platforms, technologies, and communities. Using guidelines can help us all steer clear of any obstacles.
Any calls received from the media or organizations with questions or concerns about VMBS activities should be directed to contact:
Purpose of these Guidelines
- To provide members of the VMBS community with contemporary guidance about using media resources to communicate about the college, including the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH)
- To clarify work-related and personal uses of media, including social media
- To clarify the relationship between existing university and VMBS guidelines and contemporary uses of media
These guidelines provide information for VMBS faculty and staff who interact with media—including radio, television, video, articles, newspapers, blogs, Facebook, personal websites, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Vine, Snapchat, and other yet-to-be-developed media in a dynamic communications field.
VMBS employees may find that many of these guidelines can be helpful when thinking about personal social media accounts, but these guidelines are not intended to govern or restrict personal presence on the web, nor are they intended to restrict employee rights to engage in concerted, protected activity with fellow employees over the terms and conditions of employment.
Similarly, these guidelines are not intended to abridge or otherwise restrict principles of academic freedom.
This will be a living document that will reflect the VMBS’s current needs and adjust to future changes in media.
With these parameters in mind, here are some principles to guide employees who use media to speak on the VMBS’s behalf:
- Confidentiality: Confidential or proprietary information about the VMBS and its faculty, staff, students, clients, patients, affiliates, and alumni must be protected as outlined in university and local policies, applicable federal and state laws, and regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), among others. Supervisors should be consulted for guidance on restrictions related to releasing confidential information.
- Privacy: Please do not post anything that you would not present in any public forum. In particular, please refrain from discussing situations involving named or pictured individuals (or animals) in the media or on a social media site without the individual’s express knowledge and permission (or the permission of the owner, in the case of animals, or parent/guardian, in the case of minor children).
- Permanence: Remember that whatever you share (either on the university or school’s behalf or your own personal account) may be public for an indefinite period of time, even if you attempt to modify or delete information.
- Audience: Be careful what personal information you share, as it could be available to anyone.
- Association: Keep in mind that on many websites, your name and photo or icon may appear next to the content you post and will be associated with you and may also reflect on the VMBS or the university, as you may be seen as representing them officially.
The VMBS encourages the use of media to enhance education and research through collaboration, communication, and publication of our research and programs while ensuring that the authorized use of media does no harm to the VMBS or to university faculty, students, alumni, or employees.
Referring Media Calls
When responding to an inquiry from the media, please inform the reporter that the VMBS’s policy is to refer all media inquiries to the Media & Public Relations Group.
Please provide the media with the following contact information:
The VMBS Communications Media & Public Relations Group can assist you in formulating a response, which is helpful to have prepared before talking to any reporter to provide accurate and relevant information.
Photographs, Film, or Video
If you receive questions or requests for photographs, film, or video, please refer the caller to the media and public relations team. We have a variety of responses prepared based on a number of considerations. If you encounter someone taking photos or videos, please keep in mind:
- Media can take exterior photos of our buildings, but we have the right to ask them for a contact person in their newsroom so we can verify their credibility.
- Media from outside Texas A&M University cannot enter our facility to photograph or film without permission, and a Media & Public Relations Group member will typically accompany them while they are in the building.
- Media cannot block entrance to our facility or prevent people from entering our facility or conducting business as usual.
- If you come upon a reporter, remember that they may be filming or recording your conversation. Feel free to call the Media & Public Relations Group to handle the situation.
At the discretion of the clinician in charge of a particular case and with the client’s written permission, photos of an animal may be taken for teaching purposes and authorized official college use. However, students, faculty, or staff are NOT to distribute these photos through electronic or social media sites without consulting the Media & Public Relations Group.
Consider the Impact on Stakeholders and Constituents
Consider the school’s internal and external stakeholders and constituents before we move forward in the decision-making process regarding press releases, news stories, interviews, and similar media interactions.
Seeking Media Coverage
We encourage educational, inspiring, and enlightening news stories from VMBS faculty, administrators, staff, students, clients, and alumni. If you have a story of potential interest, please contact the Media & Public Relations Group.
To ensure the accuracy of the information, the VMBS Communications Media & Public Relations Group is responsible for discussing each story/article/release with the department head/administrator of the respective department/unit before a story goes to the media or is otherwise released to the public. The approval process will be conducted in a timely manner, so if the department head/administrator is unavailable to approve the story/article/release, a designated person from each department will be contacted for approval. Furthermore, all media releases will be reviewed by the individual/s quoted in the release before distribution.
Note: Although these guidelines cover the appropriate use of media resources by VMBS employees, all employees’ use of media resources remains subject to Texas A&M University policies governing employee conduct. VMBS guidelines do not supplement the university guidelines; they work together.