Fashion. Something I vowed never to write about. I love science, rarely twist open my bottle of mascara and wear my comfy winter boots most of the year. But there are parallels between these two worlds. I’m not talking about the commandeering of phrases like DNA which can make creams and potions sound impressive. Here is my take on fashionable science media!
Journal’s are science’s catwalks. Like fashion, most research is an evolution of previous theories or results. The constant stream of publications feeds the media’s appetite for shiny and new innovations. After a week, these novel discoveries are old news as the journalists look to the next press release or PubMed entry.
This media reality means there is a tiny window of opportunity for scientists who want to publicise their months or years of work. No reward for being fashionably late!
Space, genetics and health research are the black dress of the science world. They are easily packed and wrapped for the media. Other research can experience trends which are influenced by celebrities, policy and news stories.
Reporting of science is massively influenced by excellent science communicators. They can change the type of stories reported especially on TV and the radio. Brian Cox is a classic example of a science celebrity who made physics sexy. Scicomm is growing on this side of the Irish sea too with Ian Robertson changing the way we think, Aoife McLysaght selling our genes and Emma Teeling tackling anti-ageing (to name but a few).
The world of fashion recognized the power of celebrities years ago. Scientists need to learn from this! I’m not suggesting that every scientist becomes a celebrity… but if you want your research and science topic to receive more attention, it’s entirely in your hands!
Your Science Style
Science news is tough! Thinking of research like fashion may seem a bit extreme but I think it is a good way to approach the media, especially if you want to get your research publicised.
There are valid concerns such as hoping the media will understand your research. Some important science is under-reported because it sounds too complicated or not interesting enough. Other aspects are over-reported even though they may not be as ground-breaking as they claim.
My advice is take publicity into your own hands! Contact journalists and meet with them so you when you have news they understand what you do. Use social media to promote your topic and exploit the free tools available online such as blogs, videos and podcasts. If you’re interested in featuring on TV or radio, check websites and contact producers of shows.
Photo: by José Goulão via Flickr