Press and media outreach
Tips, advice and templates for press releases and external outreach
Are you looking for ways to reach out to the public with your research? On this webpage we list some of the opportunities at hand.
Ask yourself: is it new? Is it exciting to the general public?
Why research communication?
Research communication can be a lot of things. It can be everything from talking to colleagues and visiting conferences to addressing the members of the Swedish parliament as an expert and writing opinion pieces. But, on these webpages, research communication is talking to the public. Getting your results out there. At LU and LUSEM, we often talk about ‘the third task’, meaning that besides education and research, as a university we should contribute to the surrounding society. One way to do this is by communicating our research.
The ’How’ focuses on: what should you do? There are plenty of options, but you can for instance:
- Contact a press communications officer at your faculty to get a press release about new findings out to the media.
- If you would like to interact with society and spread your message, you can tweet or blog about your views.
- You can also participate in lectures and events, for example. Or you can comment on current happenings in society, in news on the LUSEM website or perhaps on our social media.
When should you do this? It all depends: What kind of research would you like to communicate? What kind of news angle do you have? If you are writing about labour history, then perhaps 1 May is a good day to publish a news article. You can always contact the press communications officer at the faculty if you would like to discuss possible outreach.
That brings us to our final point: the ’what’. You need to know that the thing you would like to communicate, via a press release, for example, actually is a news item. Ask yourself: is it new? Is it exciting to the general public? The perfect news item is timely. If, for instance, you are writing about female entrepreneurs, then we can time the news item for International Women’s Day.
There are, of course, plenty of research that is important and relevant, but that does not fit into the media logic and therefore might not be fitting for general public outreach.
In general, there are three approaches to writing press releases at LUSEM:
- The researcher writes a popular science version of their research results. This is then edited into a press release by the press communications officer.
- The press communications officer reads the scientific paper and conducts a short interview with the researcher. The officer then writes a press release.
- The researcher answers some general questions about their research results. The press communications officer edits the answers into a press release.
Feel free to discuss which method to use with the press communications officer. (Click ”Show more” below to learn more about these three options.)
Simple templates that can help you create and structure your press release.
- Interview or initial writing by the researcher.
- A draft press release is created. Feedback round.
- Final press release is agreed upon. A date is set.
- The press communications officer publishes the press release via the Cision press service. The release is also published as a news article on appropriate websites and channels, such as lu.se, lunduniversity.lu.se, ehl.lu.se, lusem.lu.se, expertsvar.se and social media.
- The media outlets can choose to publish the full press release ”as is”, or in part. They can also choose to call or e-mail you to ask further questions.
”High-profile research”, that is published in top journals and/or has considerable news value, can be forwarded to selected journalists or editorial teams, with an ”embargo note” attached. That means that the information is provided in advance, a couple of days before the embargo date.
For example, the press communications officer reaches out to the newspaper Sydsvenskan on 1 February, with a press release on results that will be published in a journal on 5 February. It will then be understood that Sydsvenskan can work on the news item for a couple of days, but that they will not publish anything until 5 February at a given time.
Three options for creating a press release at LUSEM
1. The researcher writes a popular science version of their research results. This is then edited into a press release by the press officer.
As a researcher, you write a draft (1–1.5 A4 pages) including what you have come up with, and how and why it is important. Target audience: journalists and members of the general public who have an interest in your topic, but are unfamiliar with the academic terms. Assign the participating researchers/authors 1–2 short quotes, each one explaining or commenting on the results.
The press officer will then read and make minor revisions or suggested changes to fit the “template” for how a press release should be written.
Writing tips for press releases (in Swedish)
Writing tips for press releases (in English)
2. The press officer reads the scientific paper and conducts a short interview with the researcher. The officer then writes a press release.
The press officer writes a first draft and you can give feedback on it.
3. The researcher answers some general questions about their research results. The press officer edits the answers into a press release.
Take the time to write some short answers, ten lines or so, to some of the questions below. The press officer will use your answers to put together the press release. Since we are trying to reach people outside academia, remember to use simple and concise language.
- What have you found out through your thesis? (Results)
- Why is it important for us to know about it? (Meaning)
- How can your results be used and who can use them? (Application)
- What effect, impact or implications could your research results have in the future? (Consequence)
- Are there any specific examples in your thesis that illustrate your findings well? (Examples/Concretion)
- Is there something in your research that contradicts current understanding of the issue? What? (Surprise)
Your answers should cover no more than 1–1,5 A4 pages.