Ph.D. Student Media Training Course Outline
By the end of this course, delegates will have learned the basics of communicating with journalists and other
non-specialists. They will have produced a piece of work, in the form of a draft press release, that can form the
basis of future outreach work or interactions with the media. They will have had the opportunity to practice their
skills in a radio interview exercise.
Course Outline (Programme)
- Introductions and aims. Brainstorm: why bother with the media? Opportunities and pitfalls.
- Fundamental principles of communicating your research to non-specialists.
- Making you science accessible: key principles of popular style structure.
- News In Brief case study: the quintessence of effective communication and news writing.
- Exercise: study a research paper abstract. How would you restructure it into a popular-style article?
- How to inspire an audience and show why your research matters. Using lively language and avoiding jargon.
- Exercise: write a short press release about your project.
- How science hits the headlines: a day in the life of a science journalist, how science reaches the news.
- Press releases, embargoes and the role of the press office.
- Best practice when dealing with the media: a case study of how and why a science story was misreported.
- What makes science newsworthy? “News values” and editorial angles. A case study of how different
newspapers reported the same science story differently.
- Editorial meeting exercise: students break out into groups of 4 or 5. Each group role plays an editorial meeting
at a different newspaper or science magazine. Groups report back with their stories and headlines.
- Oral communication and broadcast media basics: How oral communication differs from the written word.
- Requirements of radio/ podcast interviews.
- Simulated “roving reporter” group radio interviews.
- Final discussion and END
Trainer: Dr. Jon Copley
Jon is the Chairman of SciConnect, Associate Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of Southampton,
and an alumnus of APS at the University of Sheffield. As a scientist, he has established a program of public
engagement that has been highlighted by RCUK as an example of “best practice” in generating impact from
research. His deep-sea research routinely makes the headlines, and he has given more than 100 media
interviews about his team’s work since 2008. Jon is also a former reporter and news editor at New Scientist.