Experts' perspectives on working with the media

A number of our experts work regularly with the media. We asked three of our experts for their advice and top tips for dealing with the media. Here's what they had to say...

Dr Lisa Smith, Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Dr Lisa Smith has been involved in many research findings in which included the Blazing Car Murder case with Dr John Bond OBE. This research led to wide media coverage. Her latest engagement with the media was the Global Summit to End Sexual violence in conflict which Lisa was invited to give expert advice at an international convention attended by Angelina Jolie.

Department of Criminology

What experience do you have working with the media to publicise your research?

I have engaged with the media on a number of occasions over the past few years, in order to disseminate research findings relating to a number of forensic science projects and most recently to highlight my involvement in the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Why do you think it is important engage with the media about your research?

I think it is important to work with the media in order to raise public awareness of academic research, which in turn raises the profile of the University and my department.

I think it is important to work with the media in order to raise public awareness of academic research, which in turn raises the profile of the University and my department.

What effect did the media coverage have on your research?

I have been involved in some projects which have attracted significant national media coverage, and this has had a directly positive impact on the research. For example, I was recently involved (with Dr John Bond OBE) in the Blazing Car Murder case, and there was extensive media coverage of the results of our investigation.

As a result of the media coverage of this story, a number of members of public have contacted us to get involved in the investigation, and this has resulted in ongoing work to try and identify the victim in this murder case from 1930. In this particular case, the media coverage was vital for identifying new leads in this case.

How did the News Centre help with publishing you your research?

In my experience, media engagement can be daunting but the News Centre is there to help draft effective press releases and offer advice about the process, which helps academics to feel comfortable working with the media.

What tips would you give to other academics about talking to the media?

I would encourage other academics to consider how their research findings may be of interest to the media and the wider public, and work with the News Centre to ensure that they make the most of their media opportunities.

 

Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, Senior Lecturer in Palaebiology

Dr Jan Zalasiewicz received a large amount of media interest after he theorised that rats could grow to increasingly large sizes in the distant future as the world's ecosystem changes. He observed how rats have managed to survive throughout history, being extremely capable at entering new locations and out-competiting other species, driving them to extinction.

Department of Geology

What experience do you have working with the media to publicise your research?

Generally good, but I don't do it to promote my research, but to engage with the public at large on aspects of research that might interest them or that might be significant for them. I see working with the media as outreach and dissemination that goes beyond academic papers.

I don't do it to promote my research, but to engage with the public at large on aspects of my colleagues research that might interest them or that might be significant for them. I see working with the media as outreach and dissemination that goes beyond academic papers.

Why do you think it is important to engage with the media about your research?

I think it's important to engage with the public, and the media are one means of doing this: not always the best means, perhaps - it's hard to develop arguments via soundbites (by contrast, when someone reads one of my books, they are engaged in the subject for hours) - but nonetheless probably better done than not done.  Sometimes media work is very well done, of course - in depth, thoughtful and balanced. There have been some very good examples regarding my Anthropocene work recently which can be found here

What have you enjoyed the most about working with the media?

Personally, meeting the people involved.

What tips would you give to other academics about talking to the media?

Engage - but be careful.  The giant rat story was extremely effective in getting publicity for the University. However, I will always worry about my academic reputation so would encourage other researchers to consider how the media might report their news.


Dr John Bond OBE, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Sciences

Dr John Bond OBE led the Blazing Car Case Murder and Dr Lisa Smith. A tissue sample taken from the victim at the time of the murder was released by The Royal London Hospital museum and examined by a team led by John from our Department of Chemistry and Dr Lisa Smith from our Department of Criminology. The team successfully obtained a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) profile from the slide to compare to the family. The engagement with the media led to an appearance on the BBC One show.

Department of Chemistry

What experience do you have working with the media to publicise your research?

Very good, I have always found the media enthusiastic about what I do.

Why do you think it is important to engage with the media about your research?

It enables practitioners, who would ultimately use the products of my research, to be informed about new techniques etc.

Use the News Centre to full advantage to publicise your work to a wider audience that will not only will help you, but will promote the university at the same time.

What have you enjoyed the most about working with the media?

Being able to promote new technology to a wider audience than would normally have access to it through journals.

What effect did the media coverage have on your research?

Media coverage has generated interest from practitioners who could see how my research could assist them, which has ultimately led to crimes being detected.

How did the News Centre help with publishing you your research?

Produced press releases and co-ordinated interviews with TV/radio etc which was crucial to securing coverage.

What tips would you give to other academics about talking to the media?

Use the News Centre to full advantage to publicise your work to a wider audience. This will not only will help you, but will promote the University at the same time.

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