Making Your Science Matter when the Stakes are High

Workshop participants practice their 60-second messages. Photo Credit: Maggie Dannreuther.

Workshop participants practice their 60-second messages. Photo Credit: Maggie Dannreuther.

(From Summer 2013 Newsletter) Highlights from the Deep-C/COMPASS Policy Communication Workshop

This one-day workshop focused on helping scientists to improve their communications with media and policy makers. Special attendees included aides from the offices of US Senator Bill Nelson (FL) and FL Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, science journalists David Malakoff (Science Magazine) and Mark Schrope (freelance), and Steve Bortone (Executive Director Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council). These individuals interacted freely, candidly, and with humor, talking about their day-to-day life, the challenges and constraints they face in their work, and what they need from scientists.

The workshop included activities to help the participants improve their communication with policy makers and the media: creating and delivering short, targeted science messages; and taking part in mock scenarios (including congressional briefing and TV/radio interviews). The workshop was co-hosted by the DEEP-C Consortium and COMPASS.

A few “Lessons Learned” from the Workshop:

  • Targeting your message is important: try to connect with a more specific audience than “the ”
  • The data does not speak for itself; follow up a discussion about results by answering the question “What does this mean for my audience?”
  • Don’t use jargon, details, or
  • Developing relationships is the BEST way to get your science out to legislators (through their staff) and specific
  • Have 60-second messages ready (for different audiences) so you can respond quickly if called or an opportunity
  • Understand that the schedule of policy makers and journalists is lightning fast compared to
  • Know that you have power to direct the conversation with the media, so bring the topic back to what you

[Back to the Summer 2013 Newsletter]