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Science Communications and Outreach

There has been much debate recently about the value of reaching out beyond publishing in peer-reviewed academic journals. Whilst it is fair to say that scientific careers are largely built on publication records and reputation, we are now seeing funding bodies discussing whether future funding decisions will also be pegged to previous outreach and communication activities of scientists. In the US, the National Science Foundation now judge grant proposals on two equal factors: intellectual capacity (50%) and previous outreach and communication activities (50%) of the applicants. The European Commission looks fairly likely to follow suit in 2013. That's significant because without funding, research programs and projects just don't happen... and that means no peer-reviewed publications. It is for this reason, I have put significant effort into developing services that can help you improve your science communications and outreach work.

Press releases

Love them or loath them, they are not about to disappear. Press releases are the key method of raising awareness of your new scientific publication, particularly with main-stream media and more and more, with scientific bloggers. As a scientific writer, I can help you develop your press release which you can then distribute through your organisation's communication network. The advantage of using my services are that you will get an accurate, well-structured, easy to understand narrative and if you have engaged me to also develop your paper, I will also have recent insights into your particular discovery.

Why not go further?

Online technologies now mean you have the ability to communicate with many more people, simulataneously and globally. That means you can reach out to you potential audience in a much more effective manner. Of course, off-line approaches still hold considerable value and engaging your audience this way can still be extremely effective. I have invested carefully in figuring out the most effective methods of communication as a scientist. Speaking from experience, engaging patient groups can be extremely effective in establishing yourself as a thought leader in your particular area. Mass-media communications can also work well if you plan well. Here are some services I can help you with:

Blog! Tweet!

According to my sources at very well established media organisations in the US and UK, one of the most effective ways of establishing your reputation is to blog and then tweet your content. Journalists now attach significant credibility to scientists that can explain their science in accessible, understandable ways and get their message out. Having a well written, media rich blog that clearly demonstrates your ability to communicate your science is an effective step towards such success. Having a significant following on Twitter can also do wonders for your reputation amongst your peers. It also allows you to write in a different way to traditional academic narrative which can be excellent for your career progression.

Whilst blogs are easy to setup, designing them and differentiating them can be difficult. I can help you reserve a relevant domain name, host your blog, plan your content and even review your content from a language and narrative perspective. 

Extended online press release

You have just completed your paper, it has been accepted for publication, but you feel you want to go further with online communications around this particular paper. I can help you develop an extended package and get it hosted and online to coincide with publication. Why not supplement your press release with an extended (written, audio, video) interview with the lead author, further in-depth analysis or background, video footage relevent to your discovery, images, or FAQs? You can link to this material in your press release or directly inform patient groups or other audiences as necessary. Don't want a seperate website? No problem. I can help you get it online at you institution's website. If you are interested in trying this approach out, or want materials such as this developing, just get in contact with me.

Remember! Time is money and for journalists, easy to understand content is king. Make efforts to give them what they want and you maximise your chances of actually getting the attention you seek.

7 steps to communication success

In the past year, I have had the pleasure of engaging with many scientists and discussing their work. One point I have noticed when I discuss communcations and outreach, is that actually starting such activities leave many feeling cold. So, I developed a method to structure thinking about such communication activities. Check it out here.

If you are interesting in pushing your communications and outreach activities further and would like to use my services, I will be pleased to help.

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