Communications and Public Comment using The University of Queensland’s Name - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy aims to safeguard the reputation and standing of The University of Queensland and assist and protect staff by outlining their responsibilities when making public comment at times when they are or may reasonably be identified as University of Queensland staff members.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Media - Traditional and new media, including print, television, radio, social media and online forums (including but not limited to news sites, comment boards, social networking sites, blogs, podcasts and video channels). It includes news, comment, documentary, feature films, and books.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all University of Queensland staff making public comment or media statements in any forum, including without limitation, websites, social media channels, letters to the editor in newspapers and media releases.

4. Policy Statement

This policy governs the association of personal and professional comment to the name, branding, logo or associated image of The University of Queensland in the public arena. When making public comment staff must observe the University Code of Conduct, act in a professional and ethical manner and must not harass, vilify, intimidate or defame the University or its employees. This policy should be read in conjunction with, and is subject to, clauses 25 and 55 of the Enterprise Agreement.

All requests for media access to University campuses and facilities should be referred to the relevant Faculty or Institute Communications Manager, or their delegate, immediately. Such requests should only be approved if the Communications Manager/delegate is confident the access does not pose:

  • a physical risk to media representatives or any members of the UQ community.
  • a legal, reputational, ethical or intellectual property risk to the University or any member of the University community.
  • a privacy risk to staff or students.

Requests deemed to pose such risks should be escalated to the relevant Organisational Unit Head and discussed with the Director of OMC, and with the relevant University Senior Management Group (USMG) member and/or UQ Legal Services as appropriate, before approval is granted. OMC is to be advised of all approved requests, and of all high risk requests, including any that are denied.

5. Standards

5.1 Responsible use of the University’s name

Seeking and imparting knowledge are fundamental functions of a University. The University affirms these functions in a number of policies and its Strategic Plan. The University respects and upholds intellectual and academic freedom and as part of its engagement objectives and encourages staff to contribute to public debate and media comment in their areas of expertise or specialisation while identifying themselves as members of the University.

The highest quality standards should apply when making public comment, to protect the reputations of University of Queensland staff, and to uphold the University’s good name and standing in the community.

5.1.1 Public comment

While making public comment within their areas of expertise, staff have a professional responsibility to uphold the outstanding reputation of the University. Information provided by staff should be accurate.

Staff are obliged to respect rights and responsibilities in respect of intellectual property, and the confidentiality and privacy of information entrusted to them in the course of their employment, for example, staff and student academic records.

Staff, when making public comment, should do so respectfully and without causing injury to reputations or by defaming others. If staff have any concerns that material in the public domain may be the subject of, or have the potential to cause legal action, they should seek advice from Legal Services as to the options available to them.

5.1.2 Online communications

The University supports the responsible exchange of intellectual opinion and debate that is fostered by use of the internet. Online contributions to correspondence and discussion including social media, may, in certain circumstances, be construed to be representative of the University's position and may enter the mainstream media. Staff must make clear whether their contribution is made on behalf of the University or in a personal capacity.

5.1.3 Use of University letterhead

University letterhead is reserved for correspondence on University affairs. Personal or outside professional correspondence should carry the name of the University, if at all, only as an address.

6. Relevant Expertise

The University supports engagement in the public arena made by those staff with the most appropriate expertise.

6.1 Appropriateness of comment

It is accepted practice that where a staff member is speaking on a subject which is clearly within their range of professional expertise in the media, it is appropriate for the staff member’s University position title to be given; for example, if an engineering professor is discussing an engineering matter.

If however, the same member of staff is writing on, or discussing a political, religious or social matter, with expertise no greater than that of a member of the general community, then no indication of association with the University should be given. In this instance, it should be made clear by the staff member that the views expressed are those of them as an individual, and in no way represent the position or views of the University.

While the University encourages staff to participate in public debate, staff who receive media queries in their areas of expertise are free to make comment or decline to make comment as they see fit. Media queries that do not seek expert comment, or where the staff member declines to make comment, should be referred to OMC.

6.2 Authority to make statements on behalf of the University

Only the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, members of the senior Executive or other authorised senior members of the University should comment publicly on behalf of the University as a corporate entity, for example, on University management, policies or operational issues. Faculty Deans, Institute Directors and School Heads are authorised to make public comment on their respective faculty, Institute or School operational matters, which might include quality of research, or teaching and learning, and similar matters.

If other staff comment to the media about the University as a corporate entity, they are considered to be offering personal opinions, which are not endorsed by the University. In circumstances where audiences might reasonably conclude a personal view is representative of the University, staff expressing personal opinions must clearly state that such opinions are their own and are not representative of the position or views of the University.

6.3 Public spokesperson in a crisis

In times of crisis the University will appoint one or more public spokespersons. The public spokesperson(s) will be briefed by the Crisis Management Team Leader, the Executive Communications adviser and the Media Coordinator. If the situation demands, alternate spokespersons may be appointed, for example, from the Police or Emergency Services.

6.4 Embargo on communications

University staff must not communicate with members of the judiciary about current or pending litigation to which the University is a party.

Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Ms Kelly Robinson


Communications and Public Comment using The University of Queensland's Name - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures outline editorial quality standards expected of University staff when producing print, audio, video or Internet news material on behalf of the University. They also outline the protocol and authorisations required for distribution of official University news material, and permissions required for use of the University’s name. These procedures supplement the policy on Media comment, editorial standards and the Use of the University’s name.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

No entries for this document

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to people identifying themselves as UQ staff members producing editorial material for release in the public arena, and for people receiving requests for use of the University name.

4. Procedures Statement

The University has developed procedures for the production of a variety of news materials for internal and external audiences. Staff should apply the highest standards when writing for these audiences.

5. News Release Distribution

News material officially representing the University should be distributed by the Office of Marketing and Communications, although the University encourages one-on-one media relationships by divisional communications officers and staff to achieve community engagement and to encourage accuracy and high take-up of University stories.

5.1 News distribution

Wherever stories are prepared, all official University of Queensland news releases must be issued by OMC. This is to ensure that:

• a uniform quality standard is applied;

• stories are distributed to current media distribution lists;

• stories do not clash with other major UQ stories issued the same day; and

• The University is aware of stories being released and approved and that University staff named in stories are available for comment.

Materials representing faculties, schools, centres, institutes and commercialisation bodies are generally prepared by communications professionals employed by those divisions, and submitted to OMC for distribution in University and external media. In addition, staff may choose to write opinion editorials directly for news organizations, or for blogs or other audiences within their areas of expertise to facilitate public engagement.

Associated commercial units, for example UniQuest, JKTech, Uniseed, i.lab, UQ Union, UQ Press, and UQ Sport are discrete business entities entitled to generate and distribute their own news releases. However OMC will need to approve any references to the University within these releases, and requires business entities to copy them on draft releases for their information.

Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Ms Kelly Robinson


Communications and Public Comment using The University of Queensland's Name - Guidelines

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1.  Purpose and Objectives

These guidelines outline best media practice and supplement the policy and procedures on Media comment, editorial standards and the use of the University’s name.

2.  Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

No entries for this document

3.  Guidelines Scope/Coverage

These guidelines apply to people identifying themselves as UQ staff members producing editorial material for release in the public arena, and for people receiving requests for use of the University name.  

4.  Guidelines Statement

These guidelines apply to stories issued externally, published internally or uploaded to the UQ web and for use of the University name and outline relevant standards that should apply.

5.  Editorial standards

5.1 Effective communications

All news material using the University’s logo or name should be of the highest editorial standards, reflecting the University’s good name and reputation.

5.1.1 Clarity of writing

When communicating with audiences via University publications or the mainstream media, language should be clear and simple when explaining complex issues or ideas, with the use of examples as necessary. Staff should avoid using excessively technical language. Opinions or comments should be attributed to named people.

Staff should refer to The Australian Government Style Manual or the Office of Marketing and Communications’ Style Guide or can attend a Media Release Writing workshop offered through the Staff Development Program or undergraduate or postgraduate writing courses through the Schools of Journalism and Communication or English, Media Studies and Art History.

5.1.2 Relevant signoffs

Stories for distribution on University letterhead should pass the University’s standard checking procedures, including story signoff by the person quoted and authorised officers (for example, Executive Deans), as well as quality proofing. In the case of higher degree students, permission will also be sought from the student’s supervisor, as well as the student.

5.1.3 Collaborative news releases

Staff approached by external organisations with whom they have been working (for example, industry, governments, charitable organisations) to participate in joint news releases should contact OMC or their faculty/institute marketing and communications or engagement officers.

The University should be aware of such statements to ensure the University or the staff member is accurately represented, the University’s interests are safeguarded, and/or to ensure a University presence at any media event.

If joint news or co-branded news releases need to be developed, they should be co-ordinated in consultation with OMC, which will liaise closely with staff and/or the organisational units involved.

5.1.4 News conferences

OMC should be advised when media conferences involving the University are scheduled, whether organised by a UQ unit or external organisation. This is to ensure that relevant journalists can be alerted and, if appropriate, a UQ presence can be guaranteed through the use of branded signage. OMC can also arrange car parking for media representatives if the event is held on campus.

6.  Use of the University’s name

6.1 Product endorsement

Staff should exercise caution if they receive requests for use of the University’s name to test or endorse products, and advice should be sought from the relevant University senior executive member or University technology transfer company

Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Ms Kelly Robinson
Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Ms Kelly Robinson