When you think about someone with a career in the spotlight, “academic researcher” is not usually high on the list that you come up with. But lately, the trend has shifted to moving scholars from the back of the research to the forefront, in the media eye.
This shift is partly because of the need for someone to explain their findings more clearly to the audience directly, and partly because when a researcher becomes a “real person” to their readers, they make a greater impact in their field.
The correlation between research and public knowledge and how media is used to promote a scholar’s work is becoming more and more obvious. As this trend increases, many academic researchers are undergoing what is termed “media training” to teach them how to optimize their time in the spotlight to best represent their research and institution.
Problems Being Unprepared in the Spotlight
Every researcher is unique, but as a generalization, many people go into the field of research to make an impact in the background, not to be in the spotlight. It’s not uncommon to find a lab full of introverts who prefer to work with data rather than people.
But when you take these experts who specialize in information and knowledge and put them in front of the media eye without any training, problems can arise.
Saying the wrong thing is just as powerful as saying the right thing and the consequences can be devastating to a researcher’s reputation. If the scholar in the spotlight is nervous and accidentally forgets a crucial point or switches words around without realizing it and correcting them, the damage is done on a massive scale.
The hard work done in the research and submission of a published article is undone because of a few poorly chosen words. It happens often, making the need for media training of researchers an important skill to learn.
Benefits of Direct Representation to the Media From Researchers
Still, it has quickly become apparent that when a researcher communicates scientific knowledge directly to the media, the effects are magnified. Science is often a subject that is misunderstood by the general public. When the researcher can take their outcomes and clarify them, bringing them to layman’s terms on a mass scale, the public understands the information disseminated better, and the researcher has succeeded in gaining their trust, making them more likely to back federal funding of science in general.
Getting your name and work in the public spotlight is good for your reputation as a scholar, too. When other researchers are passingly familiar with your articles and what your scope of practice is, they’re more likely to search your work out and use it as citations in their own. When researchers are media-represented, they typically have a higher h-index, ultimately resulting in higher scientific impact measurements.
Strategies on How to Improve Media Representation
Higher education degrees don’t usually have a requirement for media training. It’s simple for many scholars to sit back and coast as introverts behind the scenes. When they are faced with the need to enter the spotlight, they need strategies to help them succeed.
Media training often includes teaching academics the basics of public representation, like:
● The importance of preparation before heading into an interview. Knowing what you want to talk about and the key points that are necessary to address make you more confident in your subject and less likely to forget important ideas.
● Gaining confidence in asking clarifying questions. As researchers, questioning data is second nature. In person, though, it isn’t always as easy. Media training guides scholars on ways to probe reporters for more background information on the question they’re asking.
● Talking to your audience’s level. Academics have their own language and this level of discourse frequently enters their actual conversation beyond the research facility. When you’re speaking with a media representative, you’re likely talking to a general audience who needs you to tone your language down to layman’s usage in order for them to connect to you and understand what you’re saying.
● Timing is important. When people are nervous, they often find themselves droning on and on instead of concisely stating a point. Uncomfortable silence can be awkward, too, so we feel the need to fill it instead. Media training teaches scholars how to be succinct and how to handle silence.
When a scholar is able to confidently represent their work in the spotlight, the benefits are enormous for the public, the researcher, and the institution. Media training is therefore a skill that more than pays for itself.
Using Impactio to Promote Your Work
Media training is crucial if you’re going to be in the spotlight, but before you get there, you need a program that guides you on how to get your work to the publisher. Impactio is an all-in-one platform designed for academic experts to take them from start to finish with their research work.
With Impactio, you can enter your findings easily into premade templates, turn your citation and publication data into charts, graphs, and tables, and finalize your research work as professional PDF documents or web pages. After you publish your submission, Impactio’s citation indicator program shows you the impact you’ve made. Watch that impact soar after your successful media interview, and share the results with the other experts in Impactio’s network community of scholars.