Seasonal Science Stories: Using the Calendar as Your News Hook

Posted 4 December 2014 by Matt Shipman

Reporters and bloggers write in a variety of styles for a variety of audiences, but one of the things that every blog post or news item needs to do is explain to readers why the writer is telling this story now. What’s the news hook? Science stories are often reactive, meaning that the story was written in response to some external event that the writer had no control over – such as the publication of a journal article or a... Read more

Shirts, Science Communication, and Why Appearances Can Be Important

Posted 14 November 2014 by Matt Shipman

On Nov. 12, a robot launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) about ten years ago landed on a comet approximately 300 million miles away. Which is (literally) awesome. But this blog is about science communication, so I want to talk about a shirt. One of the ESA staffers prominently featured in coverage of the landing was Matt Taylor, who is head scientist on the project. Taylor is an intelligent guy, but he made the unfortunate decision to wear a... Read more

Science Blogging for Institutions: Your Virtual Roundup of the ScienceWriters2014 #OrgBlog Session

Posted 16 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

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

Can Public Relations Be Science Communication?

Posted 22 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

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

Social Media 101: Notes From My Talk At Sharing Science

Posted 27 June 2014 by Matt Shipman

I was recently invited to speak at a conference called Sharing Science: Writing and Communications Skills for the 21st Century. The June 27 conference was aimed at “science and health writers working for universities, non-profits and hospitals,” and was held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with support from the National Association of Science Writers. Specifically, I was asked to speak, along with Lee Aase of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, on issues related to new media and social... Read more

Incorporating Scicomm into the Science Classroom

Posted 27 March 2014 by Matt Shipman

Many people believe science communication (scicomm) is important. But one university professor decided to incorporate scicomm training into an advanced biochemistry course, with interesting results. Scicomm is important for securing research funding, boosting citations and encouraging future generations of scientists. But it’s also an important part of helping people find work. One study found that 90 percent of hiring managers felt “communication skills are essential for success” (Peterson, 1997). But, the study found, only 60 percent of job applicants had... Read more

Online Tools: The Waaaave of the Future

Posted 10 March 2014 by Matt Shipman

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Eleanor Spicer Rice, a freelance science writer and co-founder of the science communication company Verdant Word. She is also co-founder of the science/art blog BuzzHootRoar (she’s Roar) and the author of Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants and Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of New York City. When my brother graduated from college, one of his commencement speakers, a distinguished professor, announced to us in a wizardly voice: “The Internet is... Read more

Know What You Want, Part Two

Posted 7 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

In my last post I wrote about why it’s important to have clear goals when you engage in science communication efforts, particularly for PIOs, and how to write a single story that addresses very different audiences. Now I want to talk about what happens next. Once you’ve written something up, what do you do with it? To answer that question, it is absolutely essential to know your goals and your audiences (or your employer's goals and audiences). I'll use my... Read more

Know What You Want, Part One

Posted 1 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

If you are engaging in science communication (or any communication, really) you should know what you want before you start writing (or filming or recording). This is true for reporters, but it is especially true for public information officers (PIOs) – because the goals for PIOs can be a lot more diverse. Reporters generally have a limited number of goals in mind for what they are writing. Broadly speaking, they want to convey information in an accurate way that keeps... Read more

Why SEO Matters to Reporters and Bloggers: an Interview with Wil Reynolds

Posted 6 May 2013 by Matt Shipman

If you write it, they will come. Maybe. If they can find it. Reporters and bloggers want people to read the stories and posts they write, but first those people have to find the stories and posts. And while you may have hundreds or thousands of Twitter followers, that’s peanuts when you consider that people ask Google’s search engine more than one billion questions every day. So now I’m going to mention a term that makes (most) writers cringe: search... Read more