Publicizing your science

A guide to internal and external communications

Publicizing Your Science

 

UCAR Communications, the news office for NCAR and UCAR, has prepared this guide to help staff get the word out to colleagues, the media, and the public about your activities. Your feedback on the guide is welcome.

Why publicize your work?
How we can help
Whom to call
Questions and concerns
Speaking to reporters: A guide to working with the news media

 

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Why publicize your work?

  • For the public, the news media are the primary source of information about science. Working with the media opens up a classroom with thousands—even millions—of students, providing a teaching outlet that contributes to building an informed citizenry.
  • Increased competition for funding intensifies the need to explain research to agencies, Congress, and the voting public.
  • Global change and the devastating impacts of severe weather put added pressure on policymakers and the public to understand how we affect and are affected by the earth system.
  • The need to share news with colleagues across disciplines often requires a different kind of communication than the professional journals provide.
  • Write-ups in the popular press generate increased attention for research journal articles, according to a landmark 1991 study by Phillips et al. in the New England Journal of Medicine.

See also: Why Communicate Science?

 

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How we can help

UCAR Communications staff can help you find the right format, the right images, and the right medium to get the word out. We've developed products for every audience—from in-house colleagues, to the university community, to local and national news reporters. Our publications include Staff Notes, UCAR Magazine, UCAR Highlights, and UCAR and NCAR news releases. We are in constant contact with external media, ranging from local TV stations to The New York Times and the BBC.

 

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Whom to call

If you're not sure whom to talk to about your news, start with Shilo Hall, our administrative assistant (303-497-8603). She can connect you with the right person and the right resources. If you've worked with us before or would like to learn our areas of expertise, see our Communications staff directory.

 

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Questions and concerns

How do I know if something is newsworthy?

We want to hear all your news and story ideas. Contact a member of the UCAR Communications staff, or start with Shilo Hall, our administrative assistant (303-497-8603), and we'll help you pick the appropriate medium.

Will my work be reported accurately?

Our writers work with you throughout the writing and editing process to ensure that your research is reported accurately in our publications and news releases. You get the final say on what we put into print.

We cannot control what appears in the news media, but we can give you advice on how to talk to reporters and stay in control of the interview. Coaching, conversation with colleagues who have media experience, and practice sessions can alleviate concerns you might have about speaking to reporters.

How much time will it take?

Most of our publications begin with an interview. We'll ask you to review one or more drafts and provide corrections and feedback. If illustrations or photographs are part of the story, we'll ask for your help in acquiring those. Your participation usually takes a total of one to three hours. If the product is a news release, you'll also need to be available to take calls from the media during the week or two after we send out the release.

Contact us as far in advance as possible. Because of the extensive news at UCAR we are usually committed for several weeks ahead. The approval process and production take time. The earlier we hear from you, the more we can do.

What will my colleagues think?

Some scientists are concerned that colleagues will see them as self-promoting. Explaining your work in the context of your field presents you as a member of the larger scientific community.

When a reporter asks for personal information, the scientist may fear that colleagues will think he or she is frivolous or seeking media exposure. However, humanizing science stories with photos and personal information can help bridge the gap between peoples' daily lives and the seemingly remote domain of scientific research. And human-interest science stories can help inspire young people to consider careers in science.

 

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UCAR Communications provides news and information about the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and the UCAR Office of Programs to the UCAR community, the press, and the public.

 

*Media & nonprofit use of images: Except where otherwise indicated, media and nonprofit use permitted with credit as indicated above and compliance with UCAR's terms of use. Find more images in the UCAR Digital Image Library.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.