In an increasingly corporate and managerially-driven institutional environment, academics are being strongly encouraged to engage with the media in order to showcase their research and demonstrate their university's knowledge assets and relevance for wider communities. Many universities have recently introduced or updated policies and formally codified procedures for managing this academic-media contact to maximise positive media outcomes. A new wave of 'media policy' documents is supplanting earlier policies governing 'public comment' as a means of managing risk when academics engage in extra-mural commentary. These policies seek to regulate academic public interventions in various ways, including by establishing the institutional intellectual competency that licenses academic public speech. This paper explores some of the key policy and institutional contexts for managing academic-media relations, and considers how the 'unscripted' autonomy of comment beyond the academy may be compromised by contemporary university brand and risk management.