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© NERC All rights reserved Working with your press office Clive Mitchell Head of Communications British Geological Survey
© NERC All rights reserved Working with your press office All about me How to tell if your research is newsworthy What been making the news for BGS Images and key messages The BGS comms team and their advice What works well at BGS What happens when a big story breaks Handy reference My key messages for you
© NERC All rights reserved Its all about me… Industrial minerals geologist with 23 years at BGS, mainly overseas (Africa, Middle East, Afghanistan…) As an applied scientist Ive been explaining myself to clients/ funders for years (& they still give me money!) My involvement with BGS comms began in 2007, back when Marie Cowan (GSNI) was in charge…
© NERC All rights reserved So you think its newsworthy…? Remember news is – new, unusual, interesting - apply this test to your own research and ask : How would this affect people? Would anyone else be interested? Is it all just a big So what? Issues that affect large numbers of people generally attract media interest e.g. earthquakes, volcanic eruptions & groundwater shortages Other factors include: human interest, connection to current news, links to famous people/ events, superlatives etc…
© NERC All rights reserved BGS news – our top ten in Earthquakes (1418) 2. Darwin fossils (657) 3. Critical minerals and mineral resources (525) 4. African groundwater maps (477) 5. Shale gas and fracking (439) 6. Oil and gas (237) 7. Uranium chronology (46) 8. Space weather and geomagnetism (40) 9. Climate change (16) 10. Volcanic eruptions and ash (6) 10. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) (6)
© NERC All rights reserved BGS seismologists interpret the Haiti earthquake, 12 th January 2010
© NERC All rights reserved Going up - Elevator pitch Can you explain your science, using layman's terms, in the short time spent in an elevator? This is good practice for media interviews – you have 30 seconds... harder than it sounds! Every scientist should be able to explain their scientific research to any audience, practice this on me in the coffee break!
© NERC All rights reserved A picture speaks a thousand words Volcanic ash plume from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Iceland, April 2010
© NERC All rights reserved Volcanic ash particle from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Iceland, April 2010
© NERC All rights reserved Key messages Most important take home messages for your work Listen to a politician the next time they are on TV, those repeated words/ phrases are the key messages Key messages for BGS : A world-leading geoscience centre for: Survey and monitoring Modelling and research Data and knowledge
© NERC All rights reserved BGS Comms team The BGS Comms team is responsible for the BGS press office, web content & outreach The press office aims to create the maximum impact for BGS science via the media We do this with press releases, press conferences & briefings, media interviews, web content, social media and videos
© NERC All rights reserved BGS comms team advice….. Work with your press office Interviews – be available, take your press officer, dont forget to breathe, dont look at the camera and be yourself Stick to what you know, keep it short and simple, (avoid jargon) and spell out your organisation name in full, repeat it and check it is credited correctly
© NERC All rights reserved To tweet or not to tweet? Whether or not to use social media is a dilemma - banning its use is not a solution, its a missed opportunity In my opinion, its fine but remember to moderate your choice of words to suit a wider audience Practice this four word social media policy: Act Like A Grownup
© NERC All rights reserved What works well for the BGS Press officers with a science background – we understand our scientists and work well together Web content – our web editor creates web pages for every story and continually updates them Exclusives – BBC or broadsheet news papers British Science Festival – BGS events at the BSF have had great media coverage for last 5 years
© NERC All rights reserved LIVE INTERVIEW: Nick Higham interviewing Andrew Bloodworth at BSF 2011
© NERC All rights reserved When a big story breaks… Twitter is often first to tell us a story is breaking, usually an earthquake Next the phone starts ringing off the hook, typically starting mid-morning & slows down mid-afternoon All day its a scramble to find scientists (& get them to talk), keep track and cover all requests alerts from our online monitoring service start piling up in my inbox Often it lasts for several days gradually tailing off
© NERC All rights reserved How to keep track…. We dont use a newspaper clipping service, we use the online monitoring service, Meltwater (relatively expensive), in the past we have also used Vocus You can set up your own free media monitoring using Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) – for example, my query for space weather found 10 hits on 10 th May including the Washington Post (blog) and the Christian Science Monitorwww.google.com/alerts
© NERC All rights reserved References Most of what I have told you (and much more) is covered in this book : Brilliant PR by Cathy Bussey (deputy editor of PRWeek magazine, which we also subscribe to )
© NERC All rights reserved My key messages for you … Science stories have to be interesting Stick to what you know Be brave, take the plunge, its worthwhile and fun!
© NERC All rights reserved Thank you for your attention Clive Mitchell Head of Communications British Geological Survey Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG United Kingdom (UK) Tel. +44 (0) Web: Twitter:
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