Published: May 23, 2018

Science and Technology headline on a newspaper, next to eyeglasses and a computer

Strategic Relations and Communications (SRC) is excited to announce that CU Boulder will host ScienceWriters2020, a national conference that will bring hundreds of journalists to campus in fall 2020. 

The bid has been led by our Strategic Media Relations team in coordination with RIO, institutes and federal partners. The National Association of Science Writers (NASW) and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing typically hold their annual conference at a major research university.

NASW has 2,186 members and 247 students. A core mission of NASW is to fight “for the free flow of science news.” The Strategic Media Relations team couldn’t agree more with this noble cause.

“Hundreds of journalists will be in our community soaking up compelling story ideas and becoming aware of our top experts,” said Candace Smith, assistant vice chancellor for Strategic Media Relations. “This will lead to positive media coverage for years to come. We look forward to working with all our campus partners to make this event unforgettable, and we will be in touch with next steps as we begin planning.”

New Staffers Bring New Energy

Strategic Media Relations has added several new staff members since July. The newest member of the media team, Dan Strain, is already gaining traction in the media with stories on space. Newsweek liked his story on merging galaxies so much, they linked to it. Some of Strain’s beat areas are space, physics, computer science, math, ATLAS, anthropology, geology and the Museum of Natural History.

He didn’t have to walk far to get here: He previously handled various communications for the SEEC-based Future Earth.

Other newcomers include:

  • Colorado native Andrew Sorensen, who returned to his alma mater as media relations manager after jumping from 9News into public relations. He can now unapologetically wear his Buffs button-down and dish out media tips with fresh-from-the-field expertise. Sorensen’s beat areas include law, business, education, arts and culture, Conference on World Affairs, and outreach.
  • Fellow newcomer Sam Linnerooth, who reports to Sorensen, left his position monitoring media for the NBA and his life in the Pacific Northwest to join the media team at CU Boulder as media relations associate, bringing his own passion for basketball with him.
  • Candace Smith, meantime, has seven years of experience managing crises and attracting positive national and international media coverage for George Washington University. Before working in higher education, the former wire service journalist managed crises and served as lead spokesperson for the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (Metro).

How the Team Works

Strategic Media Relations is divided into an issues management group and a proactive positive news outreach group. Everyone on the team has "beat areas" to ensure the entire campus is covered in terms of media relations. Ryan Huff reports to Smith and serves as the chief spokesperson and oversees Deputy Spokesperson Deborah Méndez Wilson and CUPD Public Information Officer Scott Pribble.

Also reporting directly to Smith are Dave Curtin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who handles executive communications, and News Director Julie Poppen, who oversees Strain, Sorensen, Broadcast Coordinator Dirk Martin, and the other two incredibly talented science writers and media pros—Lisa Marshall and Trent Knoss.

The team is focused on boosting the university’s reputation in Colorado, the nation and the world through high-impact storytelling and deft management of potentially sticky issues, and has zeroed in on the following goals for the year:

  • Increase broadcast coverage through the installation of a new TV/radio studio on East Campus within an existing facility, which will allow for live and taped interviews of faculty and staff with media outlets, and through sharing video clips of researchers explaining and demonstrating their work for use by media.
  • Work with all campus units to develop media plans, including strategic goals and audiences, target publications or outlets, and ways to measure success, in conjunction with the new Strategic Messaging Alliance working group.
  • Establish media guidelines for the entire campus and institutionalize in-depth media trainings.
  • Increase coverage of CU Boulder by Spanish-language media outlets.
  • Improve media metrics reporting for all major campus units.
  • Refine the emergency communications plan in coordination with campus partners.

“I am excited to have staff with expertise in all the right areas, from broadcast to issues management to crafting compelling storylines,” Smith said. “We are in a great position to move the needle for the university and raise awareness of the research, innovation and creativity that positively impacts so many people.”

Please email the team at cunews@colorado.edu if you have questions about beats or need media support or in-depth media training for your experts.

Other Ways to Connect

  • Attend the Monday morning weekly news planning meeting at 9 a.m. in ARCE 578. RSVP by emailing julie.poppen@colorado.edu. The room is small.
  • Attend the monthly college and school communicators meeting held the first Thursday of each month from 10:30 a.m. to noon across campus. Email Julie Poppen for more information.
  • Join the campus communicators’ Slack channel called CU Campus Communicators.
  • Follow us @CUBoulderNews