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Science Communications as Knowledge Marketing, and Killing the News Release


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From 4-6 September 2012, I attended the Journées Hubert Curien de la Culture Scientifique et Technique, an international conference on science communication, in Nancy, France. What I present are my notes from the sessions.

packed house

Packed house

The Thursday morning lectures at the Journées Hubert Curien in Nancy, France included Martin Bauer of the London School of Economics on “A Crisis of Science Journalism? Evidence from International Research.” Bauer looked at the wider context of science journalism. With increased wealth in knowledge intensive sectors, investments are in the intangibles, such as knowledge. He asked if science communication was becoming known as research branding and knowledge marketing?

He also looked at the shifting roles of the science communication “actors” in society. Initially science communication came from the scientist, then post-World War II, the journalists. Bauer suggested that perhaps scientists might be remobilizing with the additions of PR/PIO/marketing assistance.

Ashley Yeager on creating media packages

Ashley Yeager on creating media packages

Bauer noted future challenges to science journalism and the public understanding of science. Something he said more than one was that the strength of public relations is the weakness of science journalism. Going back to what was mentioned in Ulrike Felt’s talk, another challenge is the adaption of science to a PR logic.

Following Bauer’s talk, I shifted gears to the PIO mode and attended Ashley Yeager’s presentation on the death of the news release. Yeager is a public information officer at Duke University where they have replaced the traditional news release with the media package. The media package contains a snappy headline, tight lede, colorful pictures, possibly video, an outside source, and a citation. See Brainy Lizards.

The media package is in collaboration with the scientist to simply state the research and not overhype the message. To do this effectively, the university news office must maintain good relationships with the researchers at its institution and take advantage of their resources, such as their videos and images.

heading home

Heading home

Yeager noted that images significantly increase the use of the media package. Text only offers a 9-day life where one with an image or multimedia is 20 days.

Check out Gilles Grenot’s interview of Michel Claessens who is in charge of communication and outreach at ITER and spoke earlier in the week.

Previously in this series:

Science Communication in Nancy, France
Training Scientists to Communicate: Pick Your Model

Russ Campbell About the Author: Russ Campbell is the communications officer for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the cofounder of the Science Communicators of North Carolina. He is an advocate and supporter of science communication outreach efforts. Follow him on Twitter at @razoobe. Follow on Twitter @razoobe.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






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