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Meet the press: Promoting CMC research to mass media

By Ruth Klinkhammer
Communications Director

The news media are always hungry for news – and CMC’s communication team wants to feed that need with stories about the work our researchers are doing.

Carbon Management Canada’s communication team is looking for about-to-be-published research papers. Our idea is to write a media release about your paper, which we will then distribute to mass media. The resulting release may be published on science websites, on blogs and, in the best-case scenario, the scientist will be interviewed by a journalist about his or her work.

Why bother?

There are multiple benefits to publicity (read David Sinton’s comments on this website about his experience):

  • You may attract the attention of potential industry partners, investors or new research partners;
  • Your university will appreciate being mentioned in the news;
  • Your funders will appreciate the publicity. NSERC, SSHRC and granting organizations like CMC are always looking for ways to showcase the research they fund;
  • The publicity may bring you enhanced peer recognition, new speaking engagements, even new grad students; and
  • Some scientists argue they have a responsibility to talk to the media and the public about their research because the work is publicly funded.

What do journalists want?

There are certain elements, or values, that journalists look for when determining if a story is newsworthy:

  • Timeliness – for journalists, news is what’s happening today. The research paper you published two months ago may still be important and valid – but a journalist will look at the publication date and think “old.”
  • Variety – dog bites man is not news: man bites dog is. Journalists look for stories that are different or that cast an old issue in a new light.
  • A great guest – the ideal interview subject will convey excitement and passion about her work. He will also be able to speak simply about the science using terms that the journalist, and the audience, can understand.
  • Context – why does this story matter to the journalist, why does it matter to the audience, why does it matter today? Your science needs to be put in context and related to the wider world.
  • Women – women are still under-represented in the sciences and it can be hard to find a female scientist to speak to a topic. Journalists, who like balance in their stories, are often on the lookout for the female expert.
  • The weird and the freaky – strange science sells. As I write this, two of today’s BBC science headlines are: Dolphin society run by ‘gangs’ and ‘Killer’ shrimp threat.

You might think your work doesn’t meet any of these criteria. That’s where we come in. As media experts, we can uncover angles in your research papers that will interest media. So don’t hesitate to send us your publications.

How to participate

It’s simple. Just send us a copy of the paper to be published, along with the name of the journal at least 2 months before the publication date. That will give us time to contact the journal editor, interview you, and work with your university’s communications department.

Once we’ve issued the release, we are available to field any calls from media. We can also offer you tips on how to speak with journalists.

No story is trivial. We can often see angles and story lines that researchers can’t. So send your papers to: ruth.klinkhammer@cmc-nce.ca