Consider the 5Ws: Who, what, when, where, why (and how).
Who is your audience?: What level of knowledge should you assume? Don’t use acronyms.
Opening paragraph:Introduce the scientists and the problem they are trying to solve.
Body of the text:What did you do, how did you do it, what did you find, what is your interpretation of the results?
Do’s: Explain EVERYTHING – don’t expect your audience to read between the lines.
Be straight-talking: Don’t say “Three dimensional discontinuous arboreal environment” when you mean “wood”.
Include interesting facts: Surprises, Eureka moments, hardest/funniest things.
A picture paints a thousand words: Interesting video clips, images and other visuals can sell an ordinary story.
Timing: The press is usually interested in a research story which is about to be published in a journal or presented at a conference. Many journals offer a press service to journal authors so check with them before contacting your own university press office.
Embargo: You can submit your press release at any time if you impose an ‘embargo’ which prevents anyone publishing the information ahead of a specified time (e.g. you can embargo your press release to coincide with the date of publication or a conference presentation) to ensure maximum impact.
Standing up for Science: a guide to the media for early career researchers
This blog is based on a talk by Dr Kathryn Knight (Journal of Experimental Biology), which she presented as part of the Advanced Communication Strategies session, at the Society for Experimental Biology Meeting 2012 (#seb2012), Salzburg.
SEB subscribes to Eurekalert (US based) which is a dedicated science news site for journalists. The European news site, Alphagalileo, offers a similar service. Members of SEB, delegates of its meetings and authors of its journals can take advantage of its press service by contacting the SEB Education office (firstname.lastname@example.org).