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Finding Your Voice

13 August 2020: By Kathryn Palasis and Aimee Horsfall

On Wednesday July 22nd, the Adelaide node CNBP ECRs met with Kylie Ahern and LJ Loch from STEMMatters to learn more about how to effectively engage with the media. Kathryn Palasis and Aimee Horsfall have summarised their key takeaways below.

The media landscape has changed a lot over the past 5 years and is continually evolving. The news cycle is moving 24/7; a strong headline and accompanying multimedia are becoming essential to grab the reader’s attention. Journalists have a more significant social media presence, making it easier to track the trends, people and stories they are interested in, and learn how they portray different stories. Twitter is a great platform that allows you to contact people directly…

Confused ECR: Hi @STEMMatters, I’ve got an interview coming up and haven’t spoken to the media in a while! What do I need to consider when speaking to a journalist?

STEMMatters: You need to keep in mind that this is an interview, not a conversation! Your objective is to communicate your key messages, and the journalist is looking for the best possible story. But there are definitely some specific DOs and DON’Ts.

Remember that you’re not speaking to other scientists – think about how you can simplify the key concepts into general language. 

Confused ECR: How do I keep the concepts simple enough to be understood by a general audience?

LJ: Go with the BBQ pitch analogy – would this explanation work if you gave it to family or friends over a BBQ?

Kylie: The key questions to address are who, what, when, where, why and how. You also need to pass the “so what?” test –  make it clear to the audience why this work is important and why they should care.

JL: And don’t forget to avoid scientific jargon as much as possible… keep the story simple so it can be easily retold!

Don’t be apprehensive about speaking to the media, but do prepare for any question.

Confused ECR: And how do I handle the “tricky” questions?

Kylie: It’s important to combat misinformation, which can be rife. We like to say don’t blame the media, just be the media!

LJ: Also don’t get caught up overpromising when asked the common question “when will we see this on the market?” Redirect the question and comment on what is interesting about your work now.

You don’t need to wait to be asked for an interview!

Confused ECR: That is all really helpful! Is there anything I can do to keep up my media presence in the future, without needing to wait for another interview?

STEMMatters: Creating your own content and posting it online is easier, and more important, now than ever. Find your own style and see what people respond to. We have some tips to help you get started!

Get out there and give it a go – if you’re excited, everyone else will be too!

Confused ECR: Thank you so much, any final suggestions?

LJ: Smile and show passion when you speak! Don’t underestimate the “wow factor” of your science and remember people are interested in it, so show  your excitement!

Kylie: Don’t be overly critical of yourself if you make small errors, and don’t be scared of the media – continue to give it a go at every opportunity!

The CNBP ECR Network would like to thank STEMMatters for their entertaining and insightful presentation – we all took a lot away from it and will be ready to implement the tips and tricks as soon as we get the chance!