The changing role of the science press officer
28 November 2019
Science press officers have always had to have several strings to their bow, but recently there has been discussion and debate about whether and to what extent their role is and should be changing.
Some press offices remain ‘media first’ whereas others have shifted their priorities towards other aspects of communication including blogging and content creation. Some university press officers have merged with the marketing department and have to work on student recruitment. Years ago many science press officers came from a science background and their love of science and scientists was a key qualification, whereas now some are hired based instead on their experience of corporate and reputation management, or of strategic planning.
Some say they are moving away from the press release model and towards more creative ways of communicating, while others remain proudly news media hungry. Some institutions are aiming to position themselves as thought leaders on certain key issues while others still prioritise the daily mass media machine.
Some press officers relish these new more long-term strategic challenges, while others wish they could just get on with telling the media and public every day about the important and exciting science coming out of their institution!
How significant are any of these trends? Do they mark a big change in our jobs? Does it matter? What does it mean for busy news journalists trying to get hold of experts? And where do the public fit in this new picture?
Do these changes herald a bright new future for the science press officer or do we risk losing something along the way?
Come to this event to hear from a panel of senior and seasoned press officers about their past and current priorities, and their thoughts on this often provocative and contested topic!
Rob Dawson, Chair of Stempra, and Director of Advocacy, Communications and Support, Meningitis Research Foundation
Fiona Fox, Chief Executive, Science Media Centre
Dr Bex Caygill, Head of Media Relations, UCL
Craig Brierley, Head of Research Communications, University of Cambridge
Clare Ryan, Head of Media Relations, Wellcome
Please note this event is for Stempra members only; you can become a member here.