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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Guest Blog: A “Victim” of Newswise Success

Guest Blog: A “Victim” of Newswise Success.jpg

Melissa Lutz Blouin is Senior Director of Academic Communications at the University of Arkansas.

As a subscriber to Newswise, I have always appreciated that our stories get examined and read by many eyes, both through the service and through being picked up by media outlets and news aggregators.

But I had no idea how far reaching and immediate Newswise could be with the public until the day I got involved with Internet poker.

No, I’m not a gambler. But University of Arkansas law professor Brian Gallini is a published expert on federal sentencing, criminal discovery, immigration profiling, DNA sample evidence and interrogation, among other subjects. He specializes in white-collar crime. He can speak with authority about Internet poker and the laws that govern it.  So when the U.S. Department of Justice shut down some popular Internet poker websites, Andy Albertson, communications director from the School of Law, contacted me and suggested that we promote this professor as an expert who could speak on the topic.

I asked him to send me a short summary of Gallini’s expertise that I could post on Newswise. He did so, and I quickly posted it to Newswise and returned to my other writing duties of the day.

About five minutes later, my phone rang.

“Melissa, the professor is getting irate phone calls and e-mails from poker players insisting that he do something about the websites,” my colleague informed me. “He has nothing to do with that aspect of this story. Can you please do something about this?”

Almost immediately I realized what had happened. I always post the contact information for the professor and the communicator in the body of the news release. That way, if a molecular geneticist in, say, Germany sees the release and wants to collaborate with a professor at the University of Arkansas, she has the proper contact information. This works well for molecular genetics, but apparently not so well with Internet poker.

Even after determining what was going on, I was surprised at the immediacy of the public response. I was not aware that Newswise has a large public audience that subscribes to the news feed and follows it avidly.

Now I know.

Fortunately, Newswise makes it easy to change postings, so I removed the contact information and re-posted the summary.

Gallini stopped getting irate phone calls and e-mails from poker players. After that, he received calls from some key media outlets and his comments appeared in the Chicago Tribune, on KOMO in Seattle and Bloomberg News, to name a few.

In the end, everyone walked away happy—except, perhaps, for the Internet poker players who were shut out of their sites. And we learned a valuable lesson about how Newswise can reach the public directly.

Posted by Roger Johnson on 09/01/11 at 10:43 AM

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