Letting science off the media leash
Australia has some of the brightest scientists in the world. They helped develop the world’s first antibiotic, invented Wi-Fi, created the first vaccine for cancer and created the first effective influenza treatment.
But speak to a few scientists or researchers and you will quickly realise there are a lot more bright scientists with new ideas than available funding.
So what’s the solution?
Most research funding comes from the government in some form – either directly or through government funded organisations. So, the key to securing funding lies in gaining support from politicians and you do that by getting their constituents excited about the research. And you do that by…
Telling the story
As somebody once said, we didn’t just wake up one morning with man on the moon. It started with an idea, an announcement of what could be possible. JKF’s vision and ability to tell a story, created the biggest scientific buzz ever. This buzz and continued story telling led to ongoing funding and public support even after the President died. Without announcing what was possible, it is extremely unlikely that this project would have garnered public support and with that, funding. To get people to care, you need to take them on the journey.
A savvy public relations practitioner will take scientific research and translate it into something the average person can understand. Even for scientists who excel in communication this can be tricky because often the more knowledge you have about a topic, the harder it can be to summarise. When we provide media training services for those in scientific and medical fields, often the biggest lightbulb moment is when we show them how to boil a complex piece down to a few simple sound grabs.
Communicating to the Average Joe (or Josie)
A recent study of Australian health websites targeted at educating people about important conditions such as breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes showed that only 2.4 per cent of the sites were considered ‘easy to read’.
To influence change, secure funding and impact government policy you need the average Australian to see value in the research. Whether you are trying to communicate the impact of climate change, the benefits of stem cell therapy or why genetically modified foods aren’t actually bad for you, the only way you can reach the majority of people is through mainstream and social media.
To realise the full potential of science, it can’t be confined to the lab. It needs to be on our smart phones, in our newspapers and on our TVs.