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Stempra event – Going Global

A couple of months ago, I joined Stempra, a network of people working in science public relations, media and communications. The network supports members with events and training on a variety of topics to stay up to date with good practice for high quality science communication.

Last night, I attended my second Stempra event, Going global – working with international press – an intro on how to promote your work internationally. Following on from being a media spokesperson at Cancer Research UK and then an intern at the Science Media Centre a couple of months ago, I wanted to attend to bulk up my knowledge on all things science media and meet like-minded people.

The speakers came from diverse backgrounds, so their insights included many different scenarios and they shared some excellent advice about how to approach international comms. The speakers:

This blog post is primarily intended as a learning record for myself, so the outline below covers the broader questions you’d ask yourself for any media story anyway, but expanded with yesterday’s specific insights about working on an international scale. And below that are a few gems about working with international press that fall under the category of things to watch out for.

  1. How will I get this story out?
    • News services like EureakAlert or AlphaGalileo to share press releases far and wide
    • Global news agencies like Reuters, Press Association, and Associated Press
    • Social media – Twitter is a great place to connect to journalists around the world
    • Collaborators of the story may have international links – use their networks
    • Stay abreast of conferences that link to your stories
    • Discover local PR agencies
    • The BBC is a valuable global resource
  2. Why do I want to promote this story? Who will care and why? A multitude of possible answers, which may differ between all those involved internally.
    • Strategic objectives
    • Particular relevance to a country or on an international scale
    • Researcher’s preferences
    • A way to build contacts and reputation
  3. Monitor and evaluate – who else did care about the story?
    • Google News’ alerts and Google Translate are your friends
    • Specialist software if you are lucky enough to have the £££

And some extra gems about possible pitfalls, things to watch out for, and questions to ask before embarking:

  • BBC country profiles have a wealth of info, including about a country’s media and are a great place to start if you feel a bit stuck.
  • Different countries follow different reporting styles.
  • The media culture can vary greatly between different countries – i.e. check whether there are any controls on the media.
  • For the above two points, don’t assume that English-speaking countries conduct business in the same way as in the UK.
  • Check time zones for setting embargoes.
  • Not all countries obey embargoes, so make sure you know who will or will not!
  • Make sure you know recent news in the country, or a country’s attitude to your topic to better appreciate the relevance of a story and to prep your spokesperson accordingly.
  • Find out whether the country in question requires a spokesperson who speaks the local language.
  • Check the local news agenda – trying to promote something during the build up to an election, or when a religious festival is on, may mean that your story falls to the bottom of the pile.

Please feel free to comment if you are one of the speakers or if you attended the event and have anything to add (or correct, but hopefully I haven’t made any glaring errors)! Or if you have any additional input to the conversation.

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