Communicating your research and ideas to the media

Welcome to the second installment of a series of three posts on how to raise your profile to external audiences as an academic, bought to you by Kevin Anselmo.

There are many benefits in leveraging traditional and new media to communicate with external audiences, as outlined in the first post in this series.

Doing the right media interviews provides third-party validation for your ideas and is a powerful way to generate impact. If you are not so experienced in doing media interviews, then it can be daunting. Many academics avoid interviews, and leave the related benefits on the table. Don’t let that be you. With a little bit of strategy and some practice, you can gain confidence to deliver your message via the media. Here are two successful components to get you on your way.

1. Talking points
Understandably it is difficult to summarize a 60-page journal article in a short back and forth exchange with a reporter. You may initially see this as “dumbing down” your research. I encourage you to instead see it as an intellectually rigorous process to clearly explain the key point of your research in a way that it resonates with public audiences. To do so, think through your three key messages and the associated sound bites (short extract chosen from an interview for its appropriateness or pungency).

I.KEY POINT #1

  • Why is this important?
  • Stories / illustrations
  • Statistics to back point
  • What is one sound bite that might resonate with the journalist / the readership of the publication?

II.KEY POINT #2

  • Why is this important?
  • Stories / illustrations
  • Statistics to back point
  • What is one sound bite that might resonate with the journalist / the readership of the publication?

III. KEY POINT #3

  • Why is this important?
  • Stories / illustrations
  • Statistics to back point
  • What is one sound bite that might resonate with the journalist / the readership of the publication?

2. The A, B, Cs of Delivering Your Message
With the talking points down pat, use the “A, B, Cs” of conducting interviews:

A: Answer the question
B: Form a Bridge (or segue)
C: Conclude with your talking points

Someone who does this very well is Professor Cynthia Bulik from the University of North Carolina. Take a look at this example.

You may have heard the quote that there are no stupid questions, but only stupid answers. It is so very true when thinking about media interviews!

What does your talking points document look like for a particular piece of research? Practice a mock interview scenario using the A, B, Cs above and you will be on your way!

Good luck

Kevin Anselmo
Kevin Anselmo is the Founder and Principal of Experiential Communications, a communications consultancy serving higher education. Learn more about his 1-to-1 PR coaching for academics and his Media Training for Academics workshops. Prior to starting his business, Kevin led the public relations for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and for IMD, a business school and in Switzerland.

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