Your Science Won’t Speak For Itself: Gain Traction And Get Noticed

There is a clear correlation between the benefits of public relations and successful business endeavors, whether in the private or not-for-profit sectors. In addition to creating buzz and generating awareness of newsworthy accomplishments, public relations can open an important gateway to thought leadership within a field or area of expertise.

The value of this type of careful self-promotion extends to academia, where running a modern-day lab and a small business overlap. Nevertheless, a reluctance to promote research with PR, or even internal communications tools, remains pervasive at universities and research institutes.  In a Chronicle of Higher Education editorial entitled Training Scientists To Be Better Communicators, the writers emphasized that “a lack of public-communication skills also means that scientists and engineers do not think strategically about how to make their research work to their best professional advantage.”

Many hard-working professors believe that “good science will speak for itself.” But today’s overcrowded and underfunded science environment makes this mantra much less relevant than it used to be.  You could be publishing high-quality papers in a highly exciting field, yet still find that you are having trouble gaining peer recognition or adequate funding.

How essential is creating media interest to your academic career?  Here are some areas in which PR can help you improve professionally:

  • Peer recognition – Unfortunately, there is a pervasive group think conformity in academia, with peers often repeatedly rewarding the most renowned PIs, making it more difficult for lesser known researchers or those with risky, bold ideas to gain traction. You can help break through this barrier by improving the visibility of your work to colleagues in your field, many of whom have a direct influence on your grant and paper submission process through peer review.  Is simply publishing in academic journals enough to ensure the select few on a funding committee are fully informed? Think about how little time you have to peruse literature. An additional strategy is needed to solidify your share of grant funds.
  • Public recognition/outreach – By engaging the media and generating press about your work, you are also informing the public, which is often a beneficiary of scientific advances and discoveries.  More importantly, this contributes to scientific literacy, which has an impact on everything from support for science funding to more informed scientific and public health decisions.
  • University recognition – Buzz for research from your lab creates buzz for your institution. Working with on-site public information officers to write press releases and interview with journalists can help facilitate beneficial situations for securing tenure and attract positive attention to your department and university.
  • Collaboration/entrepreneurship opportunities – In addition to securing grants, promoting your work, and increasing peer recognition, a little public relations effort can enhance your chances to expand your work through collaboration and private business opportunities. All of these serve to increase the impact of your work even more.

Publishing papers, giving seminars and attending conferences are no longer enough. It is just a start.  If a seminal paper is published, but not enough people know about it or have read it, is it still high-impact?  Luckily, it’s never too late to level the playing field and start promoting your work using simple, effective PR tools that are widely accessible and available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

As a part of our continuing effort to increase academic productivity and facilitate research management, Labguru is hosting a webinar on the value of utilizing a PR toolkit. In conjunction with science PR experts from marketing communications agency Harris D. McKinney, inc., our [ed. update: New date added - February 12, 2013] December 11, 2012 webinar will illuminate how communication and improved self-promotion can accelerate your career and help obtain funding.  It will also teach you the tricks and techniques used by academic superstars to help your research acquire more acclaim and circulation, including:

  • Using and leveraging your contacts and university relations
  • Promoting papers with science journalists
  • Writing releases with your department’s public information officer
  • Timing and content of a well-executed release
  • Using social media to connect and communicate
  • Conducting interviews and connecting with journalists

…and many other marketing tips!

In addition to our live webinar, Labguru will provide a FREE, downloadable companion e-book with more detailed tips and PR basics that are covered in the webinar.

Sign up today to advance your career with our PR basics webinar.  Whether you are a new professor just establishing your lab, or an experienced researcher, Labguru will show you how to navigate today’s competitive scientific atmosphere to gain traction, get noticed and get ahead!