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5-Day Impact Challenge

This site contains the activities and instructions for the 2017 5-Day Impact Challenge.

Media expert

Become a "Faculty Expert" for Media Relations

As one would expect, Duquesne's Media Relations team works with the media, acting as the university's spokespersons and promoting newsworthy information. However, MR also connects media representatives with Duquesne faculty and administrative experts in different subject areas. You can--you should--be one of these experts!

Here's how to go about becoming a "faculty expert":

  1. Fill out the Media Expert questionnaire in DORI to identify your areas of expertise. Find the form by selecting "Employee" in the drop-down menu in the top right corner of DORI's home page.

Then click "Marketing and Communications" under Departments & Offices.

And, finally, click Media Relations on the left. The Expert Questionnaire is linked to on the right.

 

  1. Send your completed questionnaire to a member of the Media Relations team. Media Relations may also want to see your curriculum vitae.

 

How to prepare yourself to talk to the media

Whether you're consulted by the media as a "faculty expert" or your work is being covered by the media, here’s how you can make sure you have a successful interview.

Identify your main objective

What is the single most important message you want those who read or hear your interview to come away with? AAAS recommends that you “prepare a single communication objective and two or three secondary points you want to make." Keeping a single message in mind can keep you from veering off-topic or getting lost in the details of a study when talking with a journalist.

Flesh out your talking points

You’ll need to also have talking points ready, so you don’t repeat yourself when attempting to communicate your take-home message. The FigureOne blog explains:

It’s important to have a set of talking points prepared ahead of time so you can clearly spell out the important details of your work without too much fumbling. The fastest way to get misquoted is to be unclear when you describe what you did and why it matters.

The American Geophysical Union has a helpful worksheet (PDF) that you can use to formulate your talking points; complete it and keep it handy when conducting your interview.

Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice, the better you’ll get at artfully explaining your talking points. Have a friend or colleague help you rehearse, if necessary. And keep Ed Yong’s advice about giving comments to journalists in mind when rehearsing.

The very real fear of misrepresentation

Many scientists are wary of talking to journalists for fear that they’ll be misquoted or their research will be misrepresented through errors or omissions in news articles. Science argues that researchers have more control over this issue than they may realize:

The quality of an article does … not only depend on the skills of the journalist but also on the source,” Scherzler continues. “One should, therefore, do everything in one’s power to ensure that the journalist understands what one is trying to communicate and that he has received all the information required for a good article.

You won’t be able to prevent all errors, but by being a well-prepared and rehearsed interview subject, you can nip some of these issues in the bud.

Also, keep in mind that there’s a difference between lack of precision and outright misrepresentation. Often scientists need to get comfortable with the former when speaking to a broader audience–the public tends not to be specialists, and the important thing is that they get the main story, not the nitty-gritty details.

Oversimplification of your research can be frustrating, too. Scientists “can’t overstate the uncertainties on the one hand, nor neglect to mention dangerous or unpleasant possibilities on the other,” points out biologist Steve Schneider. “Our job is to provide the context,” he says, and often having prepared, correct metaphors and examples that help illustrate a concept for the journalist and the public can do that.