Working with the media

Are you an expert who's keen to do media work, but don't know where to start? Below are some handy resources that can help you take the plunge, and avoid some of the pitfalls of working with the media.

ScienceMediaSavvy.org

Science Media Savvy is a media tips website for scientists

We've put together a web resource for scientists preparing for media work.

In specially-created videos, researchers who have proved to be star media performers offer tips on how to get the most out of media work, and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls. And, providing the view from the other side of the fence, well-known journalists explain their jobs, and what scientists can do to get their message across quickly and succinctly. An additional series of videos provides an idea of what it's like to be interviewed for TV, radio, print or online.

There is also a guide to using social media and a module dealing solely with contentious science.

Science Media Savvy is a resource you can turn to when that sudden phone call comes, or when your research project hits the news and you feel unprepared for the microphone or the camera.

The full website is available at www.sciencemediasavvy.org.

What makes a good story?

The media cycle is fast and intense. Journalists have to deliver copy for publications across a range of platforms including TV, radio, print and online, in the shortest possible time. To give your area of interest the best possible chance of media attention we have developed a short guide for experts who are pitching stories to reporters.

1. Be quick. When contacted by the media, or if you spot a media opportunity, make contact as quickly as possible.

2. Be succinct. It is a challenge to keep information on complex issues short. However two succinct paragraphs may be the maximum a busy journalist under pressure can take in. One punchy paragraph is even better!

3. Make it interesting. Journalists are looking for your personal insight based on your unique expertise. Show your passion for an issue or point out an angle that the media may not have heard before.

4. Cut out jargon. Your story is aimed at the general public rather than your colleagues. Journalists don't have the time or inclination to decipher scientific jargon

5. Provide some images if possible. It's true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Picture stories get more prominence in newspapers and a sixty-second story on TV uses 20 different pictures. Graphs and graphics can be very useful to the media too

6. Be available. Providing reporters with after-hours contact details is extremely helpful, if you are happy to do so

Media guides for Scientists

The UK Science Media Centre has produced a range of tip sheets for scientists that cover effective ways of talking about generic issues that span all of the sciences, within the context of a short interview.