Here’s one way to break the rules in research:
- Be a woman in a male-dominated field.
- Have a big, easy-to-explain framework that purports to explain and predict what legions of your fellow researchers (and pundits) have struggled to explain and predict for decades.
Note from Bob: This week, I’m writing a shaggy little series on marketers and scientists, and how to make that unpromising but all too common pairing work better. See all the emails.
Over the more than 20 years I’ve worked with scientists, I’ve heard a constant refrain from them: marketers are terrible to work with.…Read More
I’ve worked for more than 20 years with researchers as a communications and marketing professional. I’ve heard every complaint both sides could make about the other — and probably so have you. For me, the usual stereotypes (marketers are fluffy idiots, scientists are literal idiots) stopped being amusing years ago.…Read More
There’s no “right” way to communicate research (although there are plenty of ineffective ways). There are only tradeoffs between accuracy on the one hand and precision, relevance and impact on the other.
Pretending those tradeoffs don’t exist — or not being crystal clear about which is more important for the goals you want to achieve — is an excellent way to make your expertise invisible, or visible for the wrong reasons.…Read More
Ecologist Manu Saunders (who helpfully poked holes in the “insect apocalypse” narrative) now asks: “How damaging is sexy soundbite scicomm?”
Wait: first, what is “sexy soundbite scicomm”? As best I can tell from Saunders’ post, it’s comms or reporting that
- Hypes Big Data as the master key to all problems;
- Lionizes individual researchers; and/or
- Promotes single-study findings (like the insect apocalypse or the “we’ve lost 3 billion birds in North America” ones) over what she terms “scientific context.”
Sexy soundbite scicomm, Saunders argues, is toxic — not just for public understanding of what science actually is (not glamorous, not hero-based, not about sudden discoveries); but also for early career researchers who think they have to strive for stardom rather than just do good research.…Read More
You saw or heard the headlines: three billion birds (or 30 percent) have been lost in North America since 1970, according to a new study out in Science.
It was covered by media worldwide, with an apocalyptic portentousness increasingly obligatory in our time.…Read More
In certain classes of research-driven organizations (e.g., smaller think tanks, some NGOs, university-based research centers), it’s often researchers and research directors who call the communications shots. Their comfort level dictates:
- The way individual pieces of content look and feel;
- Where, how and how often the content gets promoted and to whom;
- Which content is deemed priority for the research vertical and/or organization;
- The content marketing strategy for the research vertical and/or organization (and whether there is a content strategy or not).