Aka “Rachel got a new job”
Aka “Kristen records while sick”
This episode is all about getting in front of the press in its many forms – the camera, the microphone, or the good old pen and paper of the many journalists seeking the expert knowledge of the academic. Each member of the Didactic Trio shares their experiences and different takes on the matter. Part of Rachel’s new job involves science communication and helping other academics render their often-complicated research in to something that can be consumed by a general audience.
Kristen expressed a fear of the “gotcha” moment in speaking to journalists. Rachel things that it’s vitally important that researchers and academics be working to get the results of their research out there. Although, we all agree that either facing or not facing the media is done as an exercise in controlling what is said about yourresearch – even if that’s nothing at all.
There’s always the fear, too, that your work will be miscommunicated when a journalist attempts to present it to a general audience. See, for example, this classic PHDcomic about the “science news cycle.”
The star of this episode, though, is an interview with Amanda Miller, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department Chair, and Director of Faculty Development at the University of Indianapolis. Here are some of the tips she provided:
- Whenever she has a new paper or presentation coming out, she lets the marketing department know.
- Local news is often looking for interest pieces. If you understand your topic at the 101 level, that’s enough to comment on something with the local news.
- Get in touch with your marketing department. Once your name is out there, and they know they can contact you, you’ll start getting more requests for interviews. They can also offer training to help you face the camera.
- Use the “your mom” test when communicating your specialized knowledge to the rest of the world. Would your mom understand what your talking about? If not, work on simplifying for a general audience.
- Being able to communicate in simple terms helps us talk to each other rather than at or across each other.
- It’s never as bad as you think! Even if you think that you did a bad job in an interview, the floor is pretty high. Usually, journalists want to make you sound smart. It’s good for them to have a smart sounding person in their story, and they will work to represent you positively.
Also mentioned in the episode were some resources for academics looking for coaching in how to message about their research. Beyond talking to your university’s marketing department, you might also consider:
- https://www.theopedproject.org – a non-profit whose main mission is to help amplify the voices of women, and academics in particular, in popular forums of thought.
- http://experientialcommunications.com/media-training-for-academics/ – A private communications firm specializing in working with academics.
Thanks for listening, and keep on surviving! 😁