Communicating your research – press releases

Over the last few years it has become increasingly important to communicate and publicise your research, not only to help direct your work to the relevant readers but also to raise your profile as a researcher.

One of the many ways you can disseminate your Journal of Applied Ecology article is by sending out a press release through your organisation. Here, we’ve put together some guidance if you’ve been wondering why and how to do this.

Why should I send out a press release?

Engaging with the media is an important part of communicating your research to non-academic audiences, and in particular the general public. The impact of scientific research is becoming more and more important for funding bodies and government so being able to demonstrate that your research is of far-reaching and widespread interest to society is invaluable.

Decision-makers and policymakers consider public opinion so it is important to make sure your research and the evidence you have generated is represented in the media. You are an expert in your field and know your research better than anyone else, so are best-placed to make sure your topic of expertise is accurately portrayed.

Is a press release the best way to communicate my research?

When deciding whether to organise a press release for your article it is worth considering whether spending your time on this is the most effective way of disseminating your research. Will a journalist be likely to report on your article? – Do your results have a direct impact on society? What benefits are there to the public? Can your results be used by the public to change their behaviour? Is it particularly timely? Is there a human interest angle? Is it a topic which generally gets good press coverage? Is there anything else that makes an article newsworthy (great pictures, video or audio, charismatic species, controversial issues, novel methods)?

impact on society
Do your results have a direct impact on society? Photo credit: Scott Maxwell:

If you think a journalist is unlikely to report on your research, then don’t forget that it is still important to make it easy for researchers and practitioners working in related areas to read your work. You can engage with them by writing a lay summary or blog post (e.g. for The Applied Ecologist’s blog) of your work, make a podcast or short video, or directly contact policymakers, decision-makers and funding bodies with your article and a summary of the key messages. If you would like to discuss options for how to best promote your research contact us.

How do I organise a press release?

At this stage, if you’ve decided that sending out a press release is the most effective way to disseminate your research you will need to think about how to organise it and let us know you are planning a press release. The BES has a press officer who coordinates press releases for the society and the journals. You can find information on how we coordinate press releases with article publication on our website.

Get to know your organization’s press officer so that you can approach them when you have an exciting article that might be covered by news outlets.

You need to work with your press officer to ‘sell’ your story and persuade media organisations to cover it.

Get to know
Get to know your press officer. Photo credit: Scott Maxwell:

What tips can you give me for writing a press release?

  • Think about who the relevant audience is e.g. reach out to the media outlets local to where the study was carried out.
  • Consider the timing of your press release – can it tie in with a specific event?
  • Make the title clear, short and snappy.
  • Clearly present the message of your press release and explain why your results are important.
  • Make it understandable to non-scientists, write in simple terms and keep it jargon-free.
  • Keep it short (300–500 words), but make sure all the relevant details are included.
  • Include pictures, infographics, videos and animations that can help explain the key messages.
  • Include the Journal name, article title, author list and the article URL, which we will give to you.
Clearly present your message
Clearly present your message. Photo credit: Scott Maxwell:

You can also watch our Senior Editor, Nathalie Pettorelli give her top tips on engaging with the media here:

What if I have any other questions about press releases?

Get in touch with us. We will continue to update this blog as we receive more questions.

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