The News Release Is Dead, Long Live the News Release

Posted 16 April 2014 by Matt Shipman

Credit: Photo credit: Marcela, WikiMedia Commons “The news release is dead.” If you work in journalism or public relations circles, you’ve heard this before. But institutions keep rolling out news releases. Are news releases actually still effective or has their time passed? It depends on how you look at it. How News Releases No Longer Work I don’t think news releases are dead. But I do think that news releases no longer work the way they used to. For a... Read more

A Gap in the Market for Science — an Interview with Mark Henderson about Launching Mosaic

Posted 4 March 2014 by Matt Shipman

When a charitable foundation like the Wellcome Trust launches a news outlet focusing on long-form science news, it gets my attention. I’m always happy to see new homes for science features, but it raises some interesting questions. For example, how will it handle conflict-of-interest issues? The news site, Mosaic, launched March 4. One of the brains behind the site is Mark Henderson, head of communications for the Wellcome Trust, former science editor of The Times, and author of The Geek... Read more

A Case for Scientists to Talk to Reporters (and Work with PIOs)

Posted 22 January 2014 by Matt Shipman

Many scientists are reluctant to talk to reporters about their research, much less work with their institution’s public information officers (PIOs) to draw the attention of the press in the first place. But a recent study highlights the fact that working with “traditional media” may create professional benefits for scientists. A paper describing the work, “A Case Study in Serendipity: Environmental Researchers Use of Traditional and Social Media for Dissemination,” was published December 13, 2013, in PLOS ONE. The paper... Read more

Scientists, Reporters & PIOs: What Do You Think About Online Press Materials?

Posted 19 November 2013 by Matt Shipman

In late February of 2014, I’ll be moderating a conversation about online press materials – the stuff that public information officers (PIOs) make available to reporters online. What do reporters want or need in an online press package? What do PIOs think reporters want or need? And what do scientists make of all this? The conversation about online press materials will be part of ScienceOnline Together, being held on the NC State University campus (where I work) in Raleigh. I’ll... Read more

Expand Your Audience by Sneaking Up On Science

Posted 4 November 2013 by Matt Shipman

Science writers do a good job of conveying science news to people who are interested in science. But we don’t always do a good job of reaching people who aren’t interested in science. In fact, if you’re not interested in science, you’ve already stopped reading this post, because I used the word “science” three times in the first sentence. Reporters are trained to put the news up front. If you’re writing about a new discovery in cancer research or cellular... Read more

Mobile Reporting: Which Tools Work Best?

Posted 9 October 2013 by Matt Shipman

Mobile reporting is a catch-all term referring to reporting that uses mobile devices, such as smartphones, to create multimedia news stories that incorporate photos, video and/or audio components. And public information officers are also getting in on the act, to create multimedia packages to pitch to reporters. The idea is to turn your smartphone into a mobile studio. But what tools can make that studio most effective? In 2012, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism rolled out its “Mobile... Read more

One More Bad (Bug) Science Pitch

Posted 9 September 2013 by Matt Shipman

I recently ran a post on what we can learn from bad pitches that public relations (PR) folks make to science reporters. I asked science writers to send me some bad pitches they received (and there were some doozies), but couldn’t find room for them all. Here’s one that’s worth highlighting. Gwen Pearson is better known in the science writing community as Bug Girl. An entomologist, science communicator and prodigious blogger, she has shared her love for the insect world... Read more

You’re Doing It Wrong: Lessons Learned from Bad Science Pitches

Posted 3 September 2013 by Matt Shipman

Reporters write stories. And public relations (PR) pros, including public information officers (PIOs – like me), pitch story ideas to reporters. But sometimes those pitches are wildly off target. And sometimes those pitches are so bad that they actually make reporters angry. For example, I know reporters that have gotten pitches from PR firms that offer to pay reporters if the reporters are willing to mention a specific product in their stories. These pitches backfire (big time), because the reporters... Read more

PIOs Are People, Too (Nine Things That Drive PIOs Nuts)

Posted 23 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lauren Rugani, a media relations officer at the National Academy of Sciences. She previously worked in communications offices at CERN and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, as well as on the editorial staff at Technology Review and Photonics Spectra. I don’t agree with all of her points (I actually don’t mind sharing additional sources, and kind of enjoy customizing pitches), but I loved her idea of compiling a list of things that reporters... Read more

Good, Active PIOs Make Scientists More Likely To Promote Research

Posted 13 August 2013 by Matt Shipman

Scientists at universities that have good, active public information officers (PIOs) are more likely to promote their research through news media. Of course, I would say that. I am, after all, a PIO at a university. But you don’t have to take my word for it, because those are the findings of a paper published online Aug. 8 in Science Communication. The paper discusses a study that looked at the role of universities in influencing scientists to publicize their research... Read more