Working with the Media to Disseminate your research
Being involved in public engagement activity is always a good start for sharing your research with diverse audiences – for example, giving talks or contributing to popular research blogs.
However, if you would like to gain even greater exposure for your research and aspire to share your work as widely as possible with the public, you will want to consider working directly with mainstream media channels, such as newspapers, magazines or prominent websites. By doing so, you would be able leverage the established readership or loyal followers that these media channels already have to extend your reach and research impact.
Read on to learn some effective ways to start working with the media.
Working with a journal’s media team
First of all, it’s important to understand that media teams in journals can differ widely in size and scope. Small, independent journals may not have a large media team but may have a strong social media presence with a niche, specialist audience. A prominent publisher with several journals under them will probably have a strong media team with plenty of experience and contacts across mainstream media outlets.
If you are about to publish with a journal, find out what support they can offer you to publicise your research through the media. If there is a media team or they are willing to promote your work, do not let this opportunity pass you by – a media team will know what to do to get your work out there.
However, if they are not able to offer much support, then you’ll need to think about other means of generating interest in your work, such as via your institution’s media teams or by liaising directly with the media yourself.
Working with your institute's media team
Most universities or research institutions have a media department. As they want to show that the institution is producing important, interesting and impactful research, they are likely to want to help promote your research.
Try to connect with your university’s media or PR team early on in your research and talk to them about what your research is about. For example, you could let them know that you would be willing to speak to the media if they ever needed an expert to give a comment on an issue that’s relevant to your field. This can often happen if there is a trending news story or a significant event or anniversary which will be covered by the media.
You can also work with your university’s media team to try to get coverage for your research publications. If you are set to publish a significant, ground-breaking piece of research in a prominent journal, an academic media team should be well placed to help you secure some relevant coverage with the right media outlets.
Working directly with the media yourself
Approaching the media directly can be a little bit tricky but is not impossible. The most important thing to remember is that journalists receive a lot of content and information from many different sectors of society, so you will need to work hard to grab their attention and interest them enough to want to cover your research story.
Start by looking up the most appropriate people to contact. Connecting with a specific journalist from a department at a newspaper or magazine will be more effective than writing to a general email contact.
Then, prepare a sharp, concise, clear and eye-catching press release. Focus specifically on outlining the most newsworthy components of your research and highlighting the value and significant of this news. Journalists will always want to know why your story is relevant or interesting and why it should matter to their followers, so be sure to make this aspect of your research very clear.
If you are fortunate enough to receive support and assistance from the media to publicise your work, do not make the mistake of leaving all the hard work to them. Make yourself available, answer any emails or queries quickly, and furnish as much information as clearly and promptly as you can. Then, when your story is featured by the media – whether it’s a newspaper or magazine article, a blog post, a radio or television interview – do your part to further boost publicity and audience engagement by promoting it via your own social networks and contacts. By doing so, you not only generate more interest in your research, but you also show the media that you are proactive, engaged and easy to work with. This can increase your chances of being invited back in the future to contribute or comment on issues.
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