Quick Tips & Helpful Hints

First contact

  • They’ll contact you. Oftentimes, media outlets contact researchers to ask them about a recently published manuscript, presentation they gave, or general research questions.
  • Flip the script. As a scientist, you can reach out to these organizations. Work with public relations, marketing, or outreach-type offices at your institution to learn about pre-existing connections and partnerships that your institution may already have with media outlets.
  • Contact made, now what? Once you’ve made contact with an outlet, here are some simple tips to keep in mind when talking about your research:

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple)

  • Be conversational. Remember that your audience will likely not primarily be scientists. Speak at a level that a 9th grader would understand, that way you cover all your bases.
  • Avoid jargon, define acronyms. Science and scientists are often viewed as inaccessible. Kick this perception by avoiding language and terms that are specific to your field. Check out this activity as an exaggerated example of a way to simplify your message.
  • Be deliberate in your movements and word choice. You’re the expert, be confident.
  • Allow your interviewer to interrupt you. This may be difficult as a scientist who is used to questions being asked at the end of a talk; however, allowing your interviewer to interrupt and clarify as the conversation progresses ensures that they have all the facts.
  • Be excited. This is your life and you love doing this. Convey that!

 Be prepared 

  • Return correspondence promptly. Respect deadlines by promptly returning calls/emails.
  • Key points. Have 2-3 key points ready to communicate.
  • Tell a story. Provide graphics, good quotes, and a compelling story to the reporter
  • You don’t have to answer any question that you don’t want to. If it’s not your area, don’t speculate—the last thing you want to do is be quoted saying something inaccurate.
  • Be ready for tough questions. If you don’t want to answer something, direct the interviewer to the Public Relations office of your institution.
  • Don’t pretend to be an expert. If led outside your line of expertise during the interview, you can direct the interviewer to another expert, then redirect the reporter to the main points of your research.

Follow up

  • Be available for follow-up questions.
  • Offer to fact check. You want to be sure that all the facts are straight but don’t expect to see the whole story prior to publication/airing.
  • Be polite with corrections. If there are any inaccuracies in the stories, kindly inform editor.
  • Accept artistic license. Your job was to provide facts, their job is to make the story interesting. As long as the facts are straight, have an open mind about the way the story is told.
  • Be kind. A compliment never hurts. If you like the story, tell them!