One of the first things a journalist will do when deciding to interview you is type your name into a search engine. What comes up when you search your own name?
It’s good practice to check this occasionally to make sure you keep staff profile pages and other public sites – like ResearchGate and LinkedIn – up to date.
Depending on who you want to talk to, different social media platforms may be relevant.
Many New Zealand journalists and researchers use Twitter, which can be a fun way to engage with audiences and discuss interesting research.
Younger audiences are likely to be on newer platforms, rather than Facebook, but this can still be a useful tool for targeting older audiences and community groups.
Top tips for social media
- Keep it short. Grab people’s attention. Use strong, colourful, everyday words.
- Engage in conversation. Make sure to tag in other people on topics they’re talking about, and respond to people who interact with you.
- Share and like with careful consideration. You are displaying your editorial judgement to the world, and what you share reflects on you.
- Credit others if you’re sharing their work. It’s common courtesy. Use quote marks if quoting someone.
- Check your work before publishing. On some platforms, posts can’t be edited once published, but they can be deleted and rewritten if you notice an error immediately.
Writing a decent blog
Writing a blog can involve a large time commitment, but can be incredibly rewarding and prove highly effective as a science communication tool. Here are some tips to help you blog up a storm.
Make it personal – write in the first person. The web is a one-to-one medium, so get personal and say ‘you’ and ‘I’. Say ‘you’ a lot more than you say ‘I’. People want to know how what you are saying is relevant to them.
Use active rather than passive voice: ‘they found’, instead of ‘it has been found’.
Write meaningful, short headlines. Eight words or fewer is ideal. Give a strong indication of what you are writing about in the first two words. ‘Water quality: what should we do about it?’ instead of ‘What should we do about water quality?’
Write less. People rarely read all the way through a page, so keep your posts short and include your key points in the top 20% of your post.
Keep paragraphs and sentences short. Stick to one idea per sentence.
Use lists and images to break up your text where possible.
Use plenty of links to provide context and background. Ensure the text you link gives the reader a clear idea of what they are clicking through to.
Make sure each post can stand alone. People might stumble on your website via web search or another blog. Link to any earlier posts that can add context, but don’t assume the audience has already read them.
Proofread. People will judge you on grammar and spelling. Even simple errors can undermine your credibility.
Post regularly – at least once a month — but not just for the sake of it. Make sure you have something meaningful to say.
Get an unbiased opinion. If possible ask someone objective to read your post for content before you post it. Once it’s out there, it’s difficult to completely remove and comments you might regret can be reposted elsewhere.
Sciblogs.co.nz was a network of New Zealand scientists blogging about their research and topical science-related issues. It was archived in 2022. However a number of other writing opportunities are available. Contact the SMC for more info.
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