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IHPI Clinician Scholars presentation Jan. 2018


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A presentation to early-career health services researchers about working with institutional communicators, interacting with the media, and using social media to advance their professional careers.

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IHPI Clinician Scholars presentation Jan. 2018

  1. 1. Communicating about Research & Discovery Kara Gavin, M.S. Lead Public Relations Representative, Michigan Medicine Dept. of Communication Policy & Research Media Relations, U-M IHPI News media, social media & beyond
  2. 2. Who am I? • Member of Michigan Medicine Dept. of Communication and the IHPI Communication team • Trained in biology, science writing & journalism • 20+ years’ experience publicizing research (U-M, BNL) • Find & tell stories • Handle news media inquiries • Push stories out any way I can What do I do?
  3. 3. Why does U-M* have staff like me? • our institution’s work should reach people who care • U-M expertise can have impact • taxpayers & policymakers who fund research need to know what they’re paying for • most Americans need science/medicine translated • it’s easier than ever *and lots of other places too Because…
  4. 4. IHPI: Investing in communication • Staff: Communication manager, Government Relations, Media Relations, Writer, Designer, Communication specialist • Channels: Website, member profiles, news & feature articles, issue briefs, Twitter, LinkedIn, internal & external newsletters, videos, infographics, digital signs • Training: Twitter, LinkedIn, Government Relations, more to come
  5. 5. What does the public know? • 71% extremely/very confident: mental illness is a medical condition affecting the brain (21% somewhat confident) • 69% extremely/very confident: a genetic code in cells helps determine who we are (22% somewhat confident) • 53% extremely/very confident: childhood vaccines are safe and effective (30% somewhat confident) • 31% extremely/very confident: life evolved through natural selection (24% somewhat confident) AP poll published April 2014; 1,012 adults rated confidence in a scientific concept
  6. 6. Are genetically modified foods safe to eat? Scientists: 88% Public: 37% Should childhood vaccines be required? Scientists: 86% Public: 68% Is research involving animals OK? Scientists: 89% Public: 47% Did humans “evolve”? Scientists: 98% Public: 65% The survey of the general public was conducted using a probability-based sample of the adult population by landline and cellular telephone Aug. 15-25, 2014, with a representative sample of 2,002 adults nationwide. Their views vs. scientists’ views
  7. 7. An eager audience National Science Foundation Science and Engineering Indicators 2016
  8. 8. Pew Research Center – Sept. 2017 Where they’re getting science info Plus: 81% watch science-related entertainment media (crime dramas, hospital-based shows or sci fi)
  9. 9. Research & policymakers • Policy should be based on evidence • Take aim at ‘wasteful spending’ and research that interest groups take issue with • Seize on controversies & safety lapses • Staffers may have little or no medical/scientific background
  10. 10. What do we do? • Connect with faculty about upcoming publications, grants, major events, etc. • Plan the best communication course • Write & get feedback on what we write • Commission or create visuals & videos • Disseminate content via all appropriate channels -- including reporters & social media • Act as intake for media requests • Coach faculty on media interactions • Approach reporters with ideas or experts • Handle “hot button” issues
  11. 11. Connect via the media • Press release/blog post on research or other work • Expert opinion on a topic in your specialty • Commenting on research by others or on a societal/policy issue • In-depth stories on a weighty topic • Crisis/problem situations
  12. 12. Talking to reporters • Prepare with PR person • three key points • Use layperson’s terms • avoid jargon • speak colloquially • If there’s a press release, use it • Respect deadlines • Understand the news outlet • Respect their independence
  13. 13. Use the time AHEAD of publication The “Scout’s honor” embargo system for research news • Institution/journal reaches out to reporters a few days ahead • Reporter agrees not to publish or broadcast results until a set date/time • Used by all major journals & scientific/medical societies
  14. 14. A new era of communication • Traditional news media’s gatekeeper role is eroding • Big institutions = trustworthy news sources • Everyone’s a publisher
  15. 15. Who needs reporters anyway? • Social media & search • Institutions & individuals create & share directly • Visuals & videos are vital • Fast response to controversy
  16. 16. News Media • Immediate coverage • Later coverage • Later expert source requests PR services • Eurekalert • Newswise • PR Newswire • Futurity • News aggregators U-M outlets • Record / Headlines • Magazines • Websites & blogs • Newsletters • Email: donors, alumni, others Social media • U-M/UMHS fans • Shares of our stories • Shares of news coverage • Reddit, etc. Publish U-M content in a way that anyone can freely use (as long as they mention us as the source) Our Answer:
  17. 17. Since spring 2016: Reseach & education stories via Web, Facebook, Twitter & Email Sister site for health tips & patient stories:
  18. 18. • 1-2 stories a day • Aimed at sophisticated general audience • Easily shareable • Custom graphics • Paid social media promotion • Search engine optimization • Open copyright
  19. 19. Researchers using social media • Connect with others in the field & beyond • Share new findings, publications, news items, observations, opinions, timely links • Retain professional tone while engaging • Get the most out of conferences & events
  20. 20. Creating your personal “brand”
  21. 21. Your personal brand… • NOT a logo • Must be built, over time • Comes from the ways you present yourself to the world… … and what people can find about you • Affects how people will interact with you & your work
  22. 22. Why engage publicly? • Connect with others in your field & beyond • Raise the visibility of your work • Share new findings, publications, news items, observations, opinions, timely links • Engage with individuals and institutions around the world & right next door • Get the most out of conferences & events • Raise awareness of YOU for career purposes
  23. 23. Why else? Altmetrics! • Aggregating activity around individual journal articles: • media coverage • blog posts • social media activity • more • Traces links & specific mentions of individual papers by DOI • Assigns a score & percentile • Not perfect! But getting better
  24. 24. Brummett et al New Persistent Opioid Use After Minor and Major Surgical Procedures in US Adults JAMA Surgery, April 2017 (online first) An example… 15,042 views 12 citations Since April 2017
  25. 25. Jargon = words not in common vocabulary Words that people in a given field use exclusively, or in a different way from how others use them “Robust” – an adjective for data? Or coffee? “Significant” – passed a statistical threshold? Or another word for important? To reach the public, avoid jargon
  26. 26. Does it pass the Thanksgiving Table Test?
  27. 27. Communicating with the public Logical organization “You” and other pronouns Active voice Common, everyday words Short sentences, short paragraphs Easy-to-read design features
  28. 28. Every researcher’s essentials • A robust, updated professional web profile • Know your PR person & when you should contact us • Basic LinkedIn profile • Google yourself/set up a Google alert for your name
  29. 29. “Laying low” • Start by “lurking” – follow individuals, institutions, organizations, news media • Monitor Twitter traffic at conferences via hashtags (& use them!) • Subscribe to lists of Twitter users compiled by others in your field • Join LinkedIn groups for professional societies
  30. 30. Take it to the next level • Claim Twitter handle, write a brief bio & link to your page • Share links & posts on LinkedIn • Write a “plain English” web blurb on your research focus • Post/tweet about each paper you publish/talk you give
  31. 31. Engaging more fully • Share links to your own work & work of others • Post slide sets on your site or SlideShare • Take part in tweet chats, Reddit AMAs, online campaigns, virtual journal clubs, etc. • On your personal social media, educate friends by sharing news/observations
  32. 32. Join • Platform to reach the public on timely topics • Articles created by academics, shaped by professional editors • Open copyright for republishing • Routinely republished by major media outlets, from Time and Washington Post to IFL Science • Easily shared via social media and the web • Authors can see data on views & republishing
  33. 33. I challenge you… • Speak their language. • Don’t just hope someone else will do it! • See it as part of a research career.
  34. 34. I need more help! Resources for communicating with press & public My slide sets: Help with writing in plain English: Logos, photos, templates