Thursday’s session on media relations got the science communication module off to a flying start. Lead by the enthusiastic Karen Bidewell, we were taken on a whistle-stop tour of the relationship and interplay between the media, the scientific community and the public. Central to this is the idea that press releases, and indeed science communication in general, are critical to conveying complex, in-depth information to the wider community.
Drawing upon her experience in radio and television, UK and abroad, Karen highlighted the importance of targeting your audience. From the perspective of academics, funders and journalists alike, getting a message across to the right people remains paramount. Of course, even with the right audience, working with the media incurs its own inherent risks. That’s where a clear, concise, accurate press release comes into its own, whereby the often negative slant of the media can be protected against. This concept actually underlies the origin of the press release which dates back to just over 100 years ago.
The way we access news and information has altered dramatically in previous decades and will, undoubtedly, continue to do so in ones to come. However, the essence of a successful release, whether it’s videoed, blogged, tweeted or – perish the thought – in print, is a simple take-home message that’s been distilled down from the accompanying jargon.
Karen’s talk gave an insight into the ins and outs of this small part of proactive media and how the press release is a vital tool for all involved.