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The media wants news that’s attention grabbing, controversial, ground-breaking, current, quirky and/or fun. So you must present your research in an eye-catching manner otherwise it won’t get much media coverage.
This was the major message from a talk on how to navigate the media as a scientist by Karen Bidewell, the Newcastle University Senior Media Relations Manager (Medical Sciences). Here’s more of what I learnt.
Basically, there are two types of science media, reactive media e.g. an academic giving an expert opinion, and proactive media e.g. issuing a press release. The talk focussed more on the latter.
The benefits of media coverage are numerous: it raises the profile of the scientist, creates public awareness about important issues, it could serve as an avenue for promoting collaborations and funding, and it’s fun.
However, there are risks associated with media coverage: you might get poor coverage of your research or the wrong message might be carried by the media; that’s where a press release comes in handy as a sort of defence to prove what you actually said. Also, people might question your work and your colleagues might criticize you or consider you a show off.
Talking about press releases, they should have a catchy title and first line, have lovely images, be in simple language and the technical stuff should be put towards the end.
I hope these points will help sharpen your writing skills, as they have mine.
Until next time, be good.