A theme had started to arise in the science communication talks I have attended both Mark Blacklock and Rachel Kerr mentioned ‘science over a pint’. I’m not speculating about the amount of alcoholic units scientists consume in a week but I couldn’t help notice the pattern.
They were of course referring to simplifying journals or research in order to explain in ‘laymen’s terms’ to your friend down the pub on a Friday night, and using it as a base for starting a press release or news story. I’ve found no matter what your writing the audience comes first. It’s always hard to judge how well informed they may already be. Patronise someone and they may never read anything you write again but make it incomprehensible and you may not get your point across at all.
Most scientist face this problem from your gran asking ‘so what do you actually do?’ to getting interviewed by Bill and Susanna on the BBC breakfast sofa, if your very lucky. The talks and workshops so far have been very helpful in aiding me to think about my audience. Once you’ve identified the level you are aiming to write for, you know what you want to write and that you have all your facts correct, the story is half written. I’ve also picked up the importance of letting the reader know how the research relates to them and how quotes will always make your story more credible
A glossy photo never hurts either.