Author: Jennifer R. Lloyd | Category: Career Development | November 05, 2015
You are doing amazing things. You’re uncovering knowledge
about our world and insights into the human body that can shape the future.
This is not news to you. You likely wouldn’t be committing
your days (and sometimes nights) to this effort if you didn’t value the
But it might be news to those outside the UT Health Science
Center or even outside your department or lab.
You can’t create change in a vacuum. Just as you need your
fellow scientists to execute research and fulfill the mission of the UT Health
Science Center, you need to reach the broader public in order for your
discoveries to have their full impact.
Perfecting the delivery of your research to the media and
the public is a science unto itself. Here are a few pointers to help you get
started on this journey.
Eight Helpful Tips To Gain Media Attention
1) Know Your
This is a two-part tip. First, you need to identify the media
outlets and specific journalists most likely to report on your research. Yes,
this involves reading or consuming the type of media in which you want your
work to be featured.
Expecting a journalist or producer to lavish you and your
project with attention when you haven’t learned the first thing about their work
or area of coverage is unrealistic.
Second, think through what the reporter’s
general audience looks like. A television reporter is looking for something
vastly different in an interview than someone writing for an industry-specific
magazine. Each is sharing with very different audiences through different
(Photo credit: miss_rogue / Foter / CC BY-SA)
2) Build A
Just as you network in the office, begin making connections
with the journalists you respect.
Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites where you can retweet or share the stories they post.
journalist with a specific compliment about their work when they cover your
Also, be sure to let them know that you’re available if they cover that topic again.
(Photo credit: / Pixabay/ CC0 Public Domain)
3) Identify What Is Newsworthy
Here are a few attributes that can up the news value of
a story pitch:
Has something happened this week or will it
Is the idea a fresh take, a major departure from
the norm or just plain weird enough to keep you talking about for a while?
Would the story add local perspective to a
national or global issue or trend?
Is it a truly great story with characters and
(Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer / Foter / CC BY-SA)
Everything Is News
The stories that reporters feature vary by day and by
season. This can be both an opportunity and an obstacle.
Many a great pitch has
been pushed aside by more dramatic news of the day. This may be tough to take,
but try to put in perspective.
Whatever that more dramatic news was, it likely
wasn’t good news and you should probably be thankful you weren’t involved.
(Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA)
5) Make The
Work with your communications office to learn best practices for sharing
your ideas with the press.
Sometimes a quick email may suffice instead of a
full press release.
Do not assume that a press release will get automatic press coverage because reporters get many of these a day.
(Photo: Email. Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA)
Be prepared to offer visual opportunities for either video or
Seeing yet another speaker standing behind a microphone at a press
conference is beyond boring.
Get in the lab and show the reporter your work.
Also, think of any graphics that you might have in your published studies that
could be shared as visuals.
(Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA)
For The Interview
For most news outlets, the best scientific sources are
those who can take complex topics and distill them into simple phrases.
Practice explaining your work as you would to a relative at Thanksgiving who
works in a different field.
Don’t condescend when a reporter asks a question about
your work. The reporter is likely not an
expert in your field. They are interviewing you because you’re the expert.
(Photo credit: boellstiftung / Foter / CC BY-SA)
The Big Picture
Be sure to convey how your discovery or research has or
might contribute on a larger scale — to the health of the city, the nation or
Use statistics and trends to build your case.
As long as you stay
within the bounds of facts, don’t be afraid to convey your hopes for how this
discovery might change the future.
(Photo credit: Christopher Chan / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND)
Jennifer R. Lloyd is
the Director of Law Communications for the St. Mary’s University School of Law and is a Career Advisory Council member for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She oversees communications, media relations, marketing, and advertising efforts for the School of Law. She also manages content on the School of Law’s website and social media accounts. She was formerly the higher education and scientific research reporter for the
San Antonio Express-News.
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