The Tragedy of the COVID Science-Communications Commons

It’s not exactly like the classic tragedy of the commons, where the commons collapses because everyone is trying to use it in their own interest, without coordination and regulation.

The tragedy of the COVID science-communications commons happens precisely because individual scientists and teams are contributing to the commons furiously but without coordination, in hopes that their contribution will advance our common understanding.…

Media Are the Sprinkles

Years ago I asked a consultant to consultants (it’s nice work if you can get it) for a recommendation on a good media relations person.

I’ll never forget his response — first a sharp laugh, and then: “That’s still a thing?”…

Turning Curiosity into Impact

When you’re translating or explaining a new piece of research or a research-based idea, you need to keep three dimensions in mind:

  1. Format/attention span;
  2. Where existing audiences and target audiences feed; and
  3. Your audiences’ essential questions — i.e., their curiosity.

It’s not enough to say: “We’re doing a video explainer of our paper.”

Our Bodies, Our Data Points

As Cosmo Kramer said: “I don’t argue with the body, Jerry. It’s an argument you can’t win.”

Five years ago — intrigued by studies showing fasting caused beneficial changes in mice, including decreased inflammation and obesity prevention — I began a regimen of time-restricted eating to lose weight.…

Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown: How to Refute

People are buzzing about a new piece of content whose subject is in your expertise wheelhouse. It’s getting traction, as they say.

But you hate the piece. In your expert judgement, the content cherry-picks the evidence. Or it’s sensationalistic. Or it’s uniformed.…

COVID-19: Three Cases for Bleak Optimism

I am anything but a COVID skeptic, as you know. But if you find the tone and conclusions of these three pieces as rare in your media diet as I do for mine, you might consider what that might mean for the relentless grain of communications about COVID from researchers these days — and how research is failing to give us the wider overviews we need for knowledge and action:

  1. McKinsey & Company: ”An optimistic scenario for the US response to COVID-19”

Before you react with anti-McKinsey prejudice, think: It would be much easier (and safer) for a big management consulting house to sell a dire scenario right now, with consulting services to match.…

Access vs. Accessibility

“I want to reach multiple audiences.” Every research communicator hears that over and over from researchers.

I’m not going to do what most communicators do — smile sweetly, stopping at the brink of condescension, while inwardly rolling my eyes until my retinas detach.…