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10 principles for successfully communicating research with real-world applications

by AprilSix Proof

As part of our Communicating Complexity Series, Proof recently ran an event titled ‘Real world research: Telling the right story’, where a roundtable of science research professionals discussed what it takes to get the right publicity for their research facility. The premise for our topic was that in many instances, science facility communications teams experience the following issues:
• Identifying stories that their target audience will engage with and share
• Ensuring that scientists feel comfortable representing their research externally
• Co-ordinating with press teams at other research facilities
• Achieving coverage in their desired media outlets

We had a great turnout of professionals from organisations including the Institution of Chemical Engineering, British Science Association, the University of Cambridge, Tokamak Energy, Natural History Museum, Royal Society of Chemistry, Dundee’s Discovery Centre for Life Sciences, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Institute of Physics and the University of Oxford. Proof Director, Jim Sutton, and our client Fiona Auty, Head of Communications from the National Physical Laboratory, kicked off the discussion with short talks addressing the issues above. After that, a Q&A and candid discussion took place. There were many great ideas and comments, which we distilled into the 10 principles below. They can also be downloaded here: Summary of Proof Communication Event – Real world research_Telling the right story.

Support your organisational objectives
Every piece of communication should tie back to what your organisation is setting out to achieve.

Engage senior management in the process
Get their support for sourcing stories from the scientists so you can plan with authority and confidence.

Figure out the real deal
Get to know your researchers. Understand what claims and applications their work supports.

Plan as far in advance as possible
Set up a process where researchers tell you well in advance that a paper is going to appear in a scientific journal.

Avoid clichés
Don’t link your research to lazy clichés which journalists are tired of, and will get skipped over.

Think outside of science pages
Reach out to business, environment and technology desks to achieve maximum coverage.

Images are key!
Have a selection of high-resolution images available, especially for online photo galleries.

Impact may not always be obvious
Look at new research from a media perspective and try to see the bigger picture.

Take control of multi-party collaborations
Take the lead on the story-development process and frame it in the right way for your organisation.

Seek 3rd party endorsement
Get a respected stamp of approval from industry, NGOs or charities that validate the research.

If you have any questions or you’d like to join us at our next event please get in touch: