Communications Toolkit

CommunicationsWhether you’re looking for ways to publish the results of your latest research project, would like assistance with developing a website, or are just looking to spread the word about an upcoming event your lab is hosting, there are a wealth of resources throughout the Michigan Medicine and beyond that can help. As a first step, we encourage you to review the Research News Standards developed by the Michigan Medicine Department of Communication.

No matter the type of information you need to communicate, we recommend you start by answering these questions:

  1. Who is your audience? Who do you most need to reach? Who is most likely to care about what you have to say? Be as specific as possible. (Scientific staff? Faculty who see patients? Patients in certain clinics? Administrative assistants? Anyone who might want to give money or time to a particular cause?)
  2. What do you want them to do? What is your 'call to action'? If you're holding an event, you want them to attend. If you're starting a new service, you want them to use it. If you're sharing news about an award, you want general recognition. It's important to define the desired goal BEFORE you start communicating.
  3. When do you need them to know or do something? Since everyone at Michigan Medicine is busy, it's good to give people a "save the date" notice, and then a reminder a few days before an event. But telling them too often might backfire. Similarly, if you're sharing something that you want people to know, but not act on, it's best to do so when the news is "fresh."

In addition to taking a closer look at the questions above, we encourage you to review the session materials and videos from our Communicating Science Series.


Frequently Asked Questions About Communications

My unit or department wants us to start using social media. Now what?

There is currently a "freeze" on the creation of new social media accounts for departments and units at the U-M. Our faculty and "key opinion leaders" should still consider posting regularly via their personal channels liked LinkedIn and Twitter, or with conferences and associations. If you have a particular story you think would be interesting to external audiences, use the Article Submission Form to submit your content for social media channels like the MM Facebook and U-M Health Blogs.

CLICK HERE to read more about social media and Michigan Medicine, and then we suggest you download the "Social Media Ambassadors" presentation by Ed Bottomley, Social Media Strategist in the MM Department of Communications. He goes into greater depth about why personal professional profiles are the preferred method of social media outreach for faculty and units.

Still have questions? Connect with U-M's social media experts:


We’re having a workshop on campus, how do we get faculty and staff to attend?

Develop a catchy title and create an abstract that explains the benefits of attending.

Have your webmaster create a page for the event on your website.

Email an invitation to a targeted list of potential attendees and send follow-up emails as you get closer to the event.

Submit your event to various biomedical-focused newsletters on campus, to Michigan Medicine Headlines, and to other U-M events calendars.

Create a PowerPoint slide about the event and make sure your leadership and staff include it in their presentations.

If you have design skills (or budget to hire a professional) create a flyer and hang it on bulletin boards throughout campus.

Submit follow-up articles about your event to various biomedical-focused newsletters on campus.

How can we host a "virtual" poster session?

There are a number of online resources for hosting virtual poster sessions. CLICK HERE to learn more about how one U-M group has had success with

There’s been a change in how we provide a service to researchers. How do we let people know?

Ask your webmaster to update your website with the change.

Send an email to your user list.

Submit an article to various biomedical-focused newsletters on campus.

Plan a “lunch & learn” event to walk your users through the changes and (if possible), record it through a platform such as Zoom to post on your website.

Have a table at large U-M campus events like Researchpalooza.

We’re getting ready to publish a really big paper and we think it’s important people know about it. How do we get national publicity?

First, review the Department of Communication's Research News Standards. Then, determine which Michigan Medicine Public Relations (PR) person covers your department/area.

Share the draft manuscript and a few lines about why you think it’s important.

If the PR person opts to do a press release, arrange an interview and review what they write.

Provide the PR person with images/video.

Use the “embargo” period to hone your key points and practice talking to laypeople.

If you get interview requests, use the press release as a guide.

Seek out other chances to discuss your work, and be ready to talk about it again when your topic is in the news for other reasons.

For more information, check out Working with the Media.

Members of our lab just published a paper, how can we increase the number of times it’s cited?

Use the OpenDOAR directory to find academic open access repositories.

Deposit it in Deep Blue, the U-M's permanent, free online archival system.

If your paper is the result of an NIH-funded research project, review the NIH Public Access Policy to make sure your publishing plans are in compliance with the NIH's requirements. The NIH "requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication. Papers must be accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication."

Many studies have found a citation advantage for articles that are freely available online.

Link to it from your personal or lab website.

Promote it through social media.

A conference organizer said they are going to tell the media about our work, what do we do?

Ask to review what they write, or write it yourself to their guidelines.

Ask what their embargo policy is.

If you haven’t yet published the results you’re presenting, discuss only what’s in your presentation to avoid problems later.

If it’s early-stage work, make sure to include appropriate caveats – or turn down the opportunity.

How do we get a logo for our lab?

Keep in mind that the official policy of Michigan Medicine is that there are NO LOGOS for any units smaller than the hospitals and large centers. Your "logo" should be the Medical School logo, accompanied by your lab name in text along side it. CLICK HERE to learn more.

A photographer or video crew wants access to our lab. What do we do?

Wear your safety gear!

Connect with before showing animals.

If someone outside the U-M is involved, connect with your PR person to get the OK and plan ahead.

If it’s for a U-M purpose (news release, development materials, advertising) work with the communicator involved to plan the shoot.

If they want money from you in order to be featured in their show/publication, walk away!

We've got a grant, now we need a website. How do we create one?

First, check with your department’s administrative support or webmaster/communicator – they may be able to assist with getting content on your department's website (if appropriate).

Review our recommended resources for assistance with website development projects (see "Website Development" below).

How can I learn more about communicating my science in a way that is more easily understood by the general public?

RELATE is a communications training and community engagement program designed to improve the dialogue between researchers and different public audiences. The program is currently open to graduate students and early career researchers who participate in an intensive workshop with instruction and feedback from communications experts.

The Communicating Science Series offers access to a number of session slides and video recordings that address topics like public relations, social media, and how to write in plain language.

Another handy resource is the Plain Language Medical Dictionary maintained by the Taubman Health Sciences Library.


The grant we're applying for requires a public outreach plan, what do we do?

Propose giving a presentation at local community events such as TedX-UofM, Nerd Nite Ann Arbor, Science by the Pint, etc.

Create a simple FAQ page on your lab's website.

Pitch a piece to The or another science blog that you follow. Include details about your work and emphasize its relevance to something in the news.

Post about your work on your LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed, including links to your lay summary and any papers, press releases, news articles, etc. 

We have an internal funding opportunity. How do we promote it?

If the funding opportunity is not currently listed on the U-M Medical School Competition Space, submit the information by contacting Laura Hessler at

After the funding opportunity has been listed on Competition Space, you can submit the information to multiple email newsletters using this online form

How can we get branded giveaways for an upcoming event?

U-M Procurement has negotiated contracts with strategic vendors for promotional items – CLICK HERE.

Many display materials like tableskirts and banners can simply be ordered via the internet. Locally, Paragon Design & Display has produced many of the skirts and banners used by the UMMS Office of Research at events like Researchpalooza.

Communication Resources

Events/General Announcements

Michigan Medicine Headlines – Michigan Medicine’s number one source for news, events, announcements, and more! This publication is distributed daily via email to all members of the UMHS community. CLICK HERE to submit an article or event.

Medical School Research News – is a monthly e-publication from the Medical School Office of Research highlighting research-related events, announcements, funding opportunities, and more. The newsletter is primarily distributed to Medical School faculty, staff, students, and postdocs. When you submit an article to UMMS Research News, you can also forward your submission to other biomedical-focused newsletters across campus for possible distribution in their publications. CLICK HERE to submit an announcement.

Michigan Medicine Internal Homepage -The Michigan Medicine Internal Home Page is the default “home” web page for a large percentage of faculty and staff. This page features several areas where news items can be posted, including major celebrations, institutional initiatives, and more.

Michigan Health Lab - The Michigan Medicine blog that features research-related stories, frequently updated.

Happening @ Michigan – This is a university-wide events calendar that serves the entire U-M community. Use your uniqname and Level-1 password to login to the site and submit an event. The University Record & Record Update (see below) pull event postings directly from Happening @ Michigan. 

The University Record & Record Update – The University Record is the official source for faculty-staff news at the University of Michigan. News is posted to the website daily and a print edition is distributed weekly (Monday) during the academic year and biweekly during the summer. The companion email newsletter, the Record Update, is distributed daily during the academic year and weekly during the summer. CLICK HERE to contact The University Record editorial staff. 

Website Development & Graphic Design

The Michigan Medicine Department of Communication includes team members who offer a variety of web, multimedia, and graphic design services, including website development, maintenance, and analytics. Contact (734) 418-0007 or for more information.

Additionally, U-M Procurement has negotiated contracts with strategic vendors for promotional items – CLICK HERE.

Michigan Creative – is the U-M’s internal creative agency offering a variety of services including: marketing, graphic design, writing and editorial services, website and mobile design development, photography, videography, and more. Fee for service. Contact

U-M Procurement Quote to Order - The QTO system is a portal to developing and releasing requests for proposals to multiple web and graphic design firms who have been pre-approved as strategic vendors by Procurement (including Michigan Creative).

Google Sites – provides resources on how to create a secure website using the Google Sites platform for events, projects, organizations, collaborative projects, and more. This resource is specifically designed for U-M faculty, staff, and students as part of the M+Google initiative. 

U-M Dropbox – offers an easy way to store and share files with colleagues, including external U-M collaborators. Current U-M and Michigan Medicine students, faculty, and staff are eligible to open free accounts. Features include: unlimited, cloud-based file storage that can be used for storing information protected by HIPAA, document version control, shared department/unit accounts, and easy access to files from most web-enabled devices.

Presentation Materials, Templates, & Logos

Michigan Medicine Brand Guidelines  – provides a substantial selection of templates that you can use for your next presentation. Templates available for download include: PowerPoint presentations, logos, stationery and more.

U-M Office of Communications Style Guide Templates & Downloads – offers best practices for developing the university’s voice in your communications, provides boilerplate language, official logo and color guidelines, presentation and video templates, and sample release forms. Use your uniqname and Level-1 password to login to the site and view available downloads.

Poster printing resources (all take shortcodes):

Images & Photography

Michigan Medicine Media Bank – managed by the Michigan Medicine Department of Communication, the Media Bank contains hundreds of high-resolution images and video from U-M Hospitals, Health Centers, the Medical School, research labs, etc. that are free for use for any Health System business.

Bentley Historical Library Image Bank – managed by the U-M Bentley Historical Library, the Image Bank includes approximately 5,000 digital images scanned from the Library's diverse collections. Images are available for free to researchers and staff, regardless of academic or professional affiliation. Login with your uniqname and Level-1 password to search and download images.

Michigan Photography  – offers a comprehensive central photography service and a large digital photography archive of the University of Michigan. From their website, you can order images to be delivered to you digitally or as prints. Fee for service.

Imageworks Research Guide – maintained by the U-M Library, this guide provides a comprehensive listing of image resources both internal and external to the U-M. The Guide can also be sorted by image subject area (e.g., medical or science images) and also contains detailed information about image resources offering open access options.

NIH Image Gallery – sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency consisting of 27 Institutes and Centers, this gallery serves as a centralized image service for the dissemination of primarily scientific, biomedical, and disease-related imagery. Most images on the site are offered under a Creative Commons license. If you are looking for a specific image not found on the NIH Image Gallery, email your request to

Public Health Image Library – features hundreds of free-to-use, print-quality images, illustrations, and videos collected and maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With few exceptions, all images are copyright cleared.

BioArtography – microscopic images of bacteria, blood cells, diseases, and many others from the Cell & Developmental Biology Department.

Social Media

First, consult with U-M's social media experts:


  • Leverage existing U-M and Michigan Media social media channels, including any maintained by your school or college, to reach a large and established audience
  • Establish your goals and priorities for developing a social media presence
  • Determine if you have enough content to sustain a presence (at minimum, successful UMich accounts update Facebook 1-2 times a day and Twitter 5-10 times a day). If you cannot meet these requirements, submit content to larger, more established U-M channels that already have a large number of followers. 

If you do set up a Twitter or other social media account:  

  • Review the Michigan Medicine Social Usage Procedure
  • Tweet often using slightly different wording to tweet links to the same topic or conversation over the course of days/weeks
  • Find good health-related hashtags here
  • Retweet the tweets of others, follow people who follow you, and who Twitter suggests 


Video & Multimedia

Taubman Health Sciences Library Podcast Studio – is a FREE self-serve studio in the Taubman Health Sciences Library that provides members of the Michigan Medicine community the ability to record and share video podcasts. Studio features include HD audio and video, voice-over PowerPoint production, a teleprompter, interview capability, and more. Videos produced in the Podcast Studio can be hosted at Michigan Video Abstracts.

Michigan Photography – provides professional photography services to the U-M community including event and location shooting, portraiture, group photography, digital processing, studio photography, and more. Fee for service.

Michigan Creative – the video production arm of Michigan Creative, offering professional video services to the U-M community. Services include program production, on-location (field production), event coverage, editing, duplication and distribution, and more. Fee for service.

Michigan Media - U-M video unit offering turnkey production, including script writing, shooting, editing, and more. Fee for service.

H.I.T.S. Audiovisual Professional Services – provides audiovisual services and support on the Medical Campus and at the North Campus Research Complex. Services include audiovisual setup in large facilities, remote event setup and meeting support, training on how to use audiovisual equipment, and technology advice based on best practices. Fee for service. Email to request this service.

Podcasting in Health Communication – is a collection of resources offered on Open.Michigan from Vic Divecha, Instructional Technology Designer with the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research.


U-M Procurement Quote to Order - The QTO system is a portal to developing and releasing requests for proposals to multiple printing firms who have been pre-approved as strategic vendors by Procurement.

U-M Finance Print Copy Mail - The primary source for business cards and stationery, this unit also provides other print services including flyers and brochures.

CLICK HERE for a list of printing vendors


Contact us at or 734-615-1332

2800 Plymouth Road, NCRC Building 520, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800