Phones that never stop ringing, desks full of press clippings, and interview notes spread all around. These may not be the first things you picture when you think of EMBL, but there’s one EMBL office where you can find all of these: the EMBL Press Office. But besides working with journalists, we are also here to work with you, EMBL researchers!
There’s a lot to be gained from media work including new skills, a more prominent public profile and experience in explaining your work to different audiences in an elegant and engaging way. Who knows? Working with journalists might even help you explain your job to your parents once and for all.
When Oana Stroe (EMBL-EBI communications officer) and I joined forces in managing EMBL’s media relations last year, we identified a few urgent needs. Top of our list was designing a basic media training session to encourage our scientists to work more (and better!) with journalists.
We spent a few months gathering ideas, exercises and examples to make the workshop as interactive and applied as possible. In April 2018, we provided our first ‘Working with journalists’ workshop to a group of enthusiastic EIPOD fellows in Heidelberg. Since then, we’ve also organised sessions at EMBL-EBI, Barcelona, and Rome – and we aim to do so for all EMBL sites within the next few months.
Interested in attending a future session? Here’s a sneak preview of what you’d be in for. The workshop starts off with a discussion about what news is and what journalists want from scientists. We then dive into some practical exercises on pitching a story and doing a media interview. At the end, we share our tips and tricks for interviews (available on the intranet).
Although the feedback so far has been positive, there’s always room for improvement. So far, our participants have asked for even more practical exercises on a wider range of topics. We’ve even had what we consider to be the biggest compliment ever – one attendee asked us to give them homework (!) in the form of a writing assignment. We’d like to thank the participants for their time, involvement and valuable comments! We’ll keep asking for your feedback and updating the workshop accordingly.
We also discovered that there’s a huge appetite for other science communication training sessions such as storytelling and designing eye-catching posters. Other colleagues in the Strategy & Communications team have big plans for those.
But for now, we want to invite you to join the next ‘Working with journalist’ workshop! Interested? Drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org (or email Oana if you’re at EMBL-EBI on email@example.com) and we will inform you about upcoming sessions and maybe schedule a new one at your location.
We hope to see you soon!