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Proving our worth: finding allies in strategic communication
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Proving our worth: finding allies in strategic communication



Kurt Riesselmann, Symmetry magazine, Fermilab Office of Communication, May 2010

Kurt Riesselmann, Symmetry magazine, Fermilab Office of Communication, May 2010



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Proving our worth: finding allies in strategic communication Proving our worth: finding allies in strategic communication Presentation Transcript

  • Proving our worth: Finding allies in strategic communication Kurt Riesselmann symmetry magazine Fermilab Office of Communication May 2010
  • A case study in strategic communication: The way to symmetry magazine
    • Background:
    • 99% of funding for Fermilab comes from the
    • U.S. Department of Energy.
    • Unlike NASA and NSF, the Department of Energy
    • has no mandate, history of science communication.
    • The DOE national laboratories do most of the
    • communication for the DOE Office of Science.
  • Pre- symmetry
    • Pre-2004, particle physics has no single voice: the laboratories all do their own little thing.
    • The DOE Office of High Energy Physics funds the field but has no communication tool itself.
    • Fermilab publishes FermiNews, a 16-page magazine that comes out every two weeks.
  • How symmetry was born: strategic communication, building alliances
    • In 2004, the two biggest laboratories conducting research in particle physics in the U.S., Fermilab and SLAC, agreed to join forces: pool our resources and create one magazine that represents all of (U.S.) particle physics
  • Key audiences
    • Magazines all have different goals and key audiences.
    • At symmetry , our key audiences are about 1,000 policymakers and stakeholders, including funding agencies. - They make the decisions on basic research.
    • - They must justify next year’s budget.
  • Of course, many more audiences
    • “ The interested public”
    • Current and future students
    • Scientists (at Fermilab and other institutions)
    • Local community/visitors to the lab
    • Media
    • Alumni and retirees
    • Six issues per year, between 17,000 and 22,000 copies (depending on content)
  • Goals
    • Work with all stakeholders and be the voice of particle physics (in the U.S.)
    • Present particle physics as the vibrant field it is
    • Show the many aspects and connections of particle physics (the field is broader than you think)
    • Give funding agencies and policymakers a way to share their messages and visions
    • Communicate research priorities
    • Bottom line: help secure the future of the field
  • Characteristics:
    • We set out to create a magazine that would be:
    • - credible - novel
    • - approachable - engaging
    • - alive - clear
    • - artful/stylish
    • symmetry is a magazine about particle physics and
    • its connections to other aspects of life and science,
    • from interdisciplinary collaborations to policy to
    • culture.
  • How can we measure our ROI?
    • - Survey of the entire readership is not helpful for us
    • Increase in number of subscriptions and hits on our website are good but don’t tell us much about our key audiences
    • Instead:
    • Focus groups
    • Talking to the funding agency (DOE)
    • One-on-one conversations, anecdotal evidence
    • Lots of room for improvement!!!
  • The real ROI: The benefit of alliances?
    • Testimony from our allies and key audiences regarding the usefulness of our magazines might be our strongest proof of ROI.
    • But is this a good measure? If so, how can we all form more and better alliances? (Working with recruitment, research networks, development…)
    • Or do alliances bog us down and make us too vulnerable to decisions that others make?
    • What is your experience? Let’s discuss.
    Sample Communication Talk