Public information officers (PIOs) at research institutions are responsible for helping their employers connect with the public. Often this is through conventional media relations and social media efforts. But sometimes PIOs can find other ways, unconventional ways, of connecting with various audiences. To explore these issues, Karen Kreeger, senior science communications manager at Penn Medicine, organized a session for this year’s National Association of Science Writers meeting at Ohio State University. The session, “Beyond the News Release Grind: Connecting with... Read more
ABOUT Matt Shipman
Matt Shipman is a science writer and public information officer at North Carolina State University, where he writes about everything from forensic anthropology to computer malware. He previously worked as a reporter and editor in the Washington, D.C. area for Inside EPA, Water Policy Report and Risk Policy Report, covering the nexus of science, politics and policy.
In his free time, Shipman runs a non-profit organization called the First Step Project that has nothing to do with science, plays guitar badly (but with enthusiasm) and keeps track of the juvenile humans who live in his house. You can follow him on Twitter: @ShipLives.
Anyone interested in hiring Shipman for freelance writing or editing projects can reach him at shiplives[at]gmail.com.
Matt Shipman: All Posts
On Oct. 15, Scientific American announced the launch of a new site called Scientific American español. The announcement describes the new site as “an online channel with a special focus on science news and information in Spanish.” Here’s an excerpt from the announcement: Our new Spanish-language site, headed by Debbie Ponchner under the direction of Robin Lloyd, Scientific American’s news editor, and Richard Zinken, director of international digital development, features the same authoritative take on science news and information that... Read more
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Rachel Ewing, a science and health news officer at Drexel University. Ewing is the organizer and moderator of a session called “Science Blogging for Institutions: How to Make Your #OrgBlog the Best it Can Be” at the National Association of Science Writers annual conference. This weekend at the National Association of Science Writers meeting in Columbus, OH, we’re going to talk about a topic that may be familiar to readers of Matt’s... Read more
Anyone who spends time with children knows that they are information sponges, eager to learn new things. But, in my experience, they can also have incredibly short attention spans. So if you want kids to be passionate about science, you will likely have to do more than just give them a book. One way to capture (and keep) a child’s interest is to give him or her the freedom to make a mess, shoot a rocket or make candy. In... Read more
Off the top of my head, I can list dozens of websites that offer readers science news. But in 1996, there were very few websites devoted exclusively to sharing high-quality science writing. One of the first sites to step into that niche was The Why Files, and it’s still cranking out stories almost two decades later. One of the founders of The Why Files is Terry Devitt, who is also the director of research communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.... Read more
A recent paper in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly highlights the role of public communications in boosting a researcher’s profile in the science community and finds that Twitter appears to increase the impact of those public communication efforts. This is only the latest article to link news coverage of research to scientific impact (I’ve written about related research here and here), but the new paper does a few things I haven’t seen before. First, it looks at a number of... Read more
In its most recent issue, the Journal of Science Communication raises the question of whether public communication efforts from research institutions are public relations or science communication. To address the question, the journal has published five commentaries, each of which covers a specific aspect of the issue and takes a different position. I wrote one of the commentaries. The commentaries (all of which are open access and can be found here) include an introductory piece by Rebecca Carver, who sums... Read more
Where do you go for information about the practice of science communication? I’m asking not only because I’m always looking to improve my own science communication efforts, but for a personal, selfish reason. In fact, I’m not sure how to write about this without simultaneously confessing my own ignorance AND sounding self-congratulatory (a singularly off-putting combination). I really do want to know where I can learn more from other science communication practitioners and I really do have selfish reasons for... Read more
In my day job, I’m a public information officer (PIO) at NC State University. Part of my job is to pitch research stories to reporters, and two of the tools I use when pitching stories are blog posts and news releases. This post discusses two examples that shed some light on how I decide which tool to use. The Similarities Earlier this summer, researchers came to me with two forthcoming papers. They had a lot in common. Both papers were... Read more
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jenny Ryan, a communications manager at Canadian Science Publishing and a founding member of the team behind the Canadian digital science salon Science Borealis. Ryan writes here about the evolution of Science Borealis from concept to reality, lessons learned during that process, and what the project’s organizers hope to do next. What happens when a bunch of Canadian science bloggers team up? Well, in the case of Science Borealis they turn their... Read more