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Space to Communicate

Space to Communicate

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Space to Communicate

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  1. Space to Communicate Anita Heward Freelance Science Communicator

  2. Freelance communication • Roles: • Science writer • Press officer • Exhibition development • Web development • Co-ordination of outreach activities between organisations.

  3. Freelance communication • Clients: • Science & Facilities Research Council • Royal Astronomical Society • Europlanet Outreach/Congress • British National Space Centre/ Jodrell Bank

  4. Space to Communicate • Outreach and audiences - Why, who, what, how & when • Budgets and boring (but vital) stuff • Case studies – putting theory into practice • Summary

  5. Why, Who, What, How & When • Why do you want people to know about your work? • Is it interesting? • Do you want to inspire them? • Will the knowledge be of use to them in their everyday lives? • Do you need their support? • Are you trying to educate • them??

  6. Why, Who, What, How & When • Who are you trying to reach? • Audiences can include the public, the media, schools, decision makers, the science community and many more. • There are always overlaps between these groups. • “Never overestimate the knowledge or underestimate the • intelligence of your audience.”

  7. Why, Who, What, How & When • What else is out there? • Has someone else already found a good way of communicating your message? • Are there other institutions that have a similar message to you? • Can you collaborate?

  8. Why, Who, What, How & When • How are you going to communicate? • Different concepts lend themselves to different methods of communication. • How are you going to (a) market and (b) distribute your product? • What will make your product stand out from the rest?

  9. Why, Who, What, How & When • When are you going to communicate? • Is now the best time? • Are there events or milestones that you can tie into? • What’s been happening in the news [in your subject] lately? • Does your timescale fit in • with potential funding • sources?

  10. Budgets and boring stuff • The most important question is “what is your budget?” This defines everything that you do. • A professional approach is vital • Unprofessional approach = Unprofessional output • Unprofessional output = no impact • Your activity or “product” must be competitive to stand out from all the other information available

  11. Case Studies • UK goes to the Planets • British Festival of Space • Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy meeting

  12. UK GOES TO THE PLANETS Anita Heward. Co-ordinator

  13. UK GOES TO THE PLANETS • Aims: • To capitalise on the PR and outreach opportunities offered by the peak in activity in Solar System exploration between 2003-2005. Still going in 2007! • To co-ordinate communications activities between planetary science groups in the UK

  14. UK GOES TO THE PLANETS • Focus: • Missions with UK involvement that had a major milestone between 2003 and 2005. Initially: • Cassini-Huygens • Galileo • Genesis • Mars Express • Rosetta • SMART-1 • Stardust • Venus Express • Currently being redefined to focus more on “Exploration”. Redevelopment of website and resources planned to include results of missions.

  15. The good…. • Media relations: • Co-ordinated press releases highlighting UK involvement in missions and UK points of contact • London based press conferences featuring speakers from major institutions involved, including academic and industrial partners • Media training for scientists in preparation for high-profile events e.g. Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion • Briefings to the Association for British Science Writers UK GOES TO THE PLANETS

  16. UK GOES TO THE PLANETS • The good… • Printed resources

  17. UK GOES TO THE PLANETS • The ambivalent: • British Council • UK2P consortium worked with the British Council to develop an exhibition, “Exploring the Solar System”, which toured to BC offices around the world. • The exhibition was displayed in more than 20 countries and was seen by more than 1 million visitors • UK scientists were invited to take part in events organised by BC offices around the world • PPARC (STFC) commissioned a clone of the exhibition which toured to some science centres in the UK, including INTECH, Thinktank and the Science Museum at Wroughton, and is currently on display at Jodrell Bank Observatory • The exhibition was not sufficiently robust to be left unattended and was unsuitable for many potential venues in the UK e.g. the National Space Centre and Glasgow Science Centre.

  18. UK GOES TO THE PLANETS • Summary of Lessons Learned • Collaboration with institutions means that larger, more ambitious and more expensive projects can be undertaken. • Regular meetings of the consortium have proved invaluable for finding out about new opportunities. • Activities have led to other opportunities e.g. the British Council worldwide exposure of UK planetary science • Need to reinvent periodically, changing emphasis e.g. from focus on missions to “exploration” • Still getting good turn out to meetings. Community sees this as a valuable resource. • More (or different) events can be attended as have manpower from stands from a wide pool of organisations. Can reach completely new audiences.

  19. Solar Terrestrial Exobiologists Industry Earth Observation Telecommunications End-users Astronomers Space agencies Robotics Space education Astronomical societies Amateur rocketry Amateur radio Media The only UK event for the whole space community:

  20. British Festival of Space Main aims: • To raise awareness of the UK’s space activities • To create a forum for the UK’s space community • To get school children interested in space, science and engineering

  21. British Festival of Space 10-12th July 2003 University of Surrey, Guildford Three-day event about space: • Space industry/community • Education • Public • Space Ball 1st British Festival of Space

  22. British Festival of Space 2nd British Festival of Space 2nd-5th June 2005 Thinktank Museum, Birmingham Four-day event about space: • 30th June – Trade day • 1st July – Education day • 2nd & 3rd July – Public days • 30th June - Space Ball

  23. British Festival of Space Successes at 1st Festival • Exhibition space sold out and had to be extended • Public day very well attended • Schools numbers not huge ~450 but came from all over country (Northern Ireland, Newcastle, the Wirrell) Problems at 1st Festival • Business day poorly attended • Schools competition entries low

  24. British Festival of Space Successes at 2nd Festival • Media (Business day) fantastic success. Excellent coverage on local and national news. Attendance by Science Minister and VIPs • Schools day attended by 1000 students from local schools Problems at 2nd Festival • Exhibition space sales disastrous – no attendance by ESA -> no small companies. • Public day attendance very low. Live 8 concert, appalling weather, small budget for marketing, let down by Birmingham City Council.

  25. British Festival of Space Conclusions • Very hard to set up such a large scale event without being part of a large organisation. Can end up with significant financial risks • Securing attendance from big draw organisation, such as ESA, is vital. BUT this is not always controllable. • Space Ball was popular event – gave funding organisations opportunity to wine & dine journalists and get them talking to scientists in an informal setting

  26. RAS National Astronomy Meeting • Annual meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, held in April • Meeting covers astronomy, cosmology, planetary science, solar physics*, solar terrestrial relations* • 15-25 press releases sent out under embargo the week before the meeting • Media mailing list of ~200 journalists worldwide

  27. Releases from RAS NAM 2007 had over 200 pieces of coverage, including print, TV, radio and online • With development of the Internet, opportunity for worldwide coverage has expanded hugely • Google News makes searching for coverage much easier – less need for employing a clippings agency

  28. Blogs and online discussions mean that you get some feedback from the public • Coverage from one story led to an approach from ESA to the University department, to discuss future collaboration. • Embargoes from Science and Nature journals are a problem. Often the most interesting results presented at a conference can’t be released to the media.

  29. Space to Communicate • Summary • Don’t reinvent the wheel – see what is already out there but tailor it to your specific objectives and audiences • Collaborate wherever possible • Be realistic about your expectations • Try and get feedback (formal and informal)