¿Eres científico? Ten en cuenta estos 11 puntos en tu relación con un periodista

Are You a Scientist? 11 Points to Keep in Mind When Working With the Media


1. The journalist is your ally, not your enemy.
Bring your research to the general public and help to enhance the understanding of science. Remember, most scientific research is funded by public money so we have a duty to communicate our findings.


2. Never underestimate a journalist.

Don’t underestimate a journalist because of where he or she works (whether because of the ideology or importance of the media or because the person is not a specialist science journalist). It is our job to help journalists who do not understand our terminology by simplifying it so that they can transmit the information correctly to their readers. Nevertheless, we obviously give priority to the media with the greatest impact. Perhaps other members of your team can deal with some of the less important media.


3. You should always have a clear idea of what information you want to transmit and keep in mind that the journalist seeks novelty and exclusivity.

If you know what you want your headline to be, make comments like “it is the first time that”, “what is new is”, and “never before”. A journalist who has received a press release will ask questions aimed at obtaining additional information not included in the release.


4. Encourage the journalist to keep in contact with you and your communications department.

This is a good way to build trust. The journalist will treat you as their source for the areas in which you work or have particular expertise.


5. Try to respond quickly.

The media work to tight deadlines on a daily basis. If either you or your communications department do not get back to them quickly, they will not come back to you in the future.


6. Never ask for a copy of an article before it is published.

The journalist will feel manipulated and will lose confidence in you. However, you can offer to help if any doubts should arise.


7. Don’t despair if your press release does not have the impact you expected.

Even though you may have paid attention to the newsworthy aspects of the story when writing it up (the topical interest or novelty of the item, its significance or impact on society, the importance of the journal, relevance to the target audience, spectacular or curious aspects, and general interest), it is always possible that its impact may be disappointing. Don't worry. Among other things, a lot depends on other news about health and science that appears on the same day.


8. Nothing is ever totally off the record.

If you do not want a fact to be published, don't talk about it. The journalist's job is to scoop their competitors. If you say “nobody knows this yet and you can't publish it”, you may find yourself reading all about it the following day even if what you said was “off the record”.  Take no risks unless you know the person well.


9. If you are not happy with what a journalist has written, let them know your opinion.

Even when you take into account all these points, it is always possible that a journalist may publish an article that you do not like or is erroneous or misleading. Tell them your opinion, whether at the time or, even better, when they call you again. If you are uncomfortable about doing this, ask your communications team to do it for you.


10. When taking part in a video or broadcast, be clear and specific.

Stick to short sentences (subject+verb+predicate) and restate the question in your answers. For instance, in response to the question “What is new about X…?”, your reply should be “What is new about X is... ”


11. Make use of your communications team.

Remember that the communications department is there to help you and that you should keep them informed about your relationships with journalists and your attendance at events that may be worth publicising, whether through the traditional media or on newer channels, such as web pages and the social networks.


Learn More

On June 25 2014, Beatriz Fiestas, Communications Coordinator at ISGlobal, will give the seminar "How to Deal with the Media. More Than Just Ten Commandments for Understanding Journalists". Acces to the talk is free.