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Publicity: Raising the profile of your journal

By Kirsty Doole

Kirsty Doole is the Publicity Manager for Journals at OUP. Here Kirsty talks about journals publicity and how she works to generate coverage and article exposure to help raise the profile of your journals.

Why do publicity?

First and foremost, publicity promotes your journal’s brand: on each press release I send out, I request that journalists credit the source as the journal first. Publicity brings your journal a higher level of awareness to not just academics who may want to submit work to you, and librarians who may want to stock your journal, but also to the general public. Increased brand recognition for your journal can also benefit you if you’re looking to expand into new markets or territories.

Publicity promotes the individual author. Many funding applications ask academics for evidence that they are disseminating their work outside their own academic field, and publicity shows very clearly that they are.

Publicity also helps with discoverability and usage. We know that more and more people are accessing all sorts of information via the internet, and so the more people talk about a story online, the easier it is for other people to search for and locate it. Publicity is a fantastic way to boost the discoverability of your journal and its papers. Any paper I press release is made free-to-access for a period of time, allowing more people to read the paper than might otherwise have done so, raising awareness of your journal in the process.

What do I look for in a publicity-worthy article?

To be considered a good candidate for a press release, articles should:

• Be interesting. It sounds obvious, but this really is the most important factor. It needs to be interesting not just within your own academic field, but to a wider, lay audience. Could you see it on the BBC news or CNN website, or as a news story in the New York Times, or The Guardian?
• Have a hook to a single story. By this I mean that we can’t send out a press release about a whole special issue, for example. The media need a single ‘headline’ to run a story on.
• Not already be in the public domain. There’s no point publicizing something that’s already out there.
• Have a good sample size. In the past, we have had poor coverage for studies that are based on too small a sample size, and it’s something journalists themselves have told us. Generally speaking, I would like sample sizes numbering in the several hundreds, unless there are compelling reasons go ahead and publicize the study with a lower number.

What kind of publicity can we generate?

We generate a lot of coverage in the traditional media, by which I mean national newspapers, radio, magazines such as New Scientist or the New York Review of Books or the The Economist.

Case in point: press coverage

In order to raise the international profile of the Quarterly Journal of Medicine, we produced a press release for a topical article that both the editors and our Publicity department identified as having broad interest outside the journal’s core readership.

The media coverage generated by this press release was found in the BBC News, Huffington Post UK, Daily Telegraph, CBS News, New York Daily News, Yahoo Canada, ABC News, Sydney Telegraph, MSN NZ, The Times of India, The Indian Express, Arab News, Pakistan Daily Times, The China Post, Malaysia Chronicle, Standard Digital (Kenya), amongst others.

The press-release was complemented with tweets about the article through the Oxford Journals and Oxford Academic Twitter feeds. Coverage was promoted via numerous channels, including a dedicated webpage and targeted email campaigns.

News Health

Impact on Article Usage: In addition to being a huge success in raising the profile of the journal, this campaign also had a positive impact on usage. The article received almost 20 times more than the average number of downloads received by other reviews and original articles in the same issue. We also succeeded in raising awareness of the journal to a general interest market outside of its core readership.

Regional media is also important. Don’t write off local papers or radio stations: they reach a lot of people. For example, in 2011 we publicized a paper that specifically referred to Ireland. While the coverage was largely limited to Ireland, rather than wider afield, the story was picked up in no fewer than 25 separate local papers and radio stations, as well as national Irish coverage.

Increasingly, we look to digital or online media: from sites with very high readership, like the BBC News website through to smaller, niche websites or blogs more tailored to specific fields.

Finally, specialist media: we will always send press releases to contacts within the relevant fields, as well as the larger traditional outlets. Reaching specialist media has the advantage of reaching academics in the field who can further the discussion in a meaningful way, as well as being an excellent way to raise awareness about your journal.

Kirsty DooleKirsty Doole is the Publicity Manager for Journals. She joined OUP’s Publicity team in 2005, and in that time has worked across many of OUP’s different types of publishing, including trade books, Oxford Dictionaries, and Oxford’s online products. She is also involved with some of OUP’s social media channels.