Book by William Tyson
Review by Stefanie Wiesneski
Office of Student Services, College of Biological Sciences
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

How do issues facing higher education enter the national dialogue? How can educational research be adequately and accurately represented in the media? In Pitch Perfect, author William Tyson provides a practical how-to guide for academics wanting to engage with traditional and new media.

The book reads like a primer on the field of journalism with applications for academia. Written with action in mind, most chapters include lists of tips and tricks or a step-by-step guide. The writing has more in common with the style of a newspaper or magazine article than an academic paper, following a who, what, when, where, how model. The author clearly shows his 30-plus years of experience working with traditional media, and offers an insider view, including definitions, lingo, and industry standard practices. He draws on his experience working with academics to emphasize his points using examples of success stories and common pitfalls. His audience is academic newsmakers, faculty with recent research, coordinators of innovative programs, educators with a specific and relevant expertise, etc.

The vast majority of the book is spent on strategy and practice for engaging traditional media, going in-depth on developing relationships within new organizations, style and purpose for individual outlets and organizations, and strategies for marketing yourself and your expertise. The chapters provide an excellent introduction and set of tools for an individual new to the world of media relations.

However, the author gives only a cursory introduction to Web 2.0 technologies and strategies. Outlets such as blogs, Twitter, web sites, podcasts, etc., were covered in one chapter. Yet, as the author himself cites that neglecting these technologies may result in “obscurity, and thus irrelevancy” (173). The information presented provides an introduction to each of these outlets, but does not reach the same depth of insight and strategy. A technologically savvy individual interested in employing these communication outlets may want do additional reading to further inform his or her Web 2.0 media strategies.

As a group of people interested in more broadly communicating the issues and discoveries in education, the content of this book provides a guide to engaging news organizations. As Tyson states, “Academics, scholars and researchers have a passion for learning and discovery. So does the public. You can advance dialogue, understanding, and meaningful change by sharing what you know with those outside your discipline, classroom, lab, or institution” (189). The content of this book would be a good selection for academics who have valuable and newsworthy expertise or initiatives and are seeking to make these advances.

Tyson, W. (2010). Pitch perfect: Communicating with traditional and social media for scholars, researchers, and academic leaders. Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Pitch perfect: Communicating with traditional and social media for scholars, researchers, and academic leaders. (2010). Book by William Tyson. Review by Stefanie Wiesneski.  Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC. 230 pp. $19.95. ISBN # 978-1-57922-333-5
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