Where Do You Go To Learn About The Practice of Science Communication?

Posted 18 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

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

Choosing Between Blog Posts and News Releases

Posted 5 September 2014 by Matt Shipman

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

Institutional Blogging: Do You Really Want To Do This?

Posted 4 August 2014 by Matt Shipman

Someone where you work (maybe it’s you), says: “Maybe we should start a blog.” Why not? Lots of people have blogs, and some of them are really popular. So maybe your office should start a blog about all of the stuff going on at your university, research lab, department, or whatever. After all, you’re doing stuff that’s really cool and you want people to know about it. But then the questions start. How much would it cost? Who would write... 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

Context is Key: Reporters, PIOs, and Handling Health Study Findings Responsibly

Posted 14 May 2014 by Matt Shipman

Coffee is good for you. Or bad for you. The same can be said for red wine, chocolate, and eggs. It depends on which news story you just read. Media coverage of health research can give readers cognitive whiplash. There’s an explanation for this. “The reason the stories contradict each other is because the studies contradict each other,” Virginia Hughes wrote in a May 12 post at her blog, Only Human. “The science of health is so, so confusing, I... Read more

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 News releases don’t work the way they used to. For a long time, institutions would write releases that theoretically contained all of the salient... 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