Media presentation of R&D output
Role of the Public Relations Department
Promoting and disseminating science and research results as well as publicising other events linked to the life of FSc CU (such as exhibitions, major awards, events for young people, etc.) is a major process in the Faculty’s operation internally and externally. A large part of the promotional channels (see a list below) is managed centrally by the Public Relations Department (PRD FSc CU), allowing for synergies between the various promotional channels (see below) that are not directly accessible to individual organisational units for use. Many expert media (journals such as Nature and Science) use precisely agreed terms for publishing the releases (they are embargoed until an exact date and hour), which is also why it is very important to coordinate the output for publication.
Modern communication technologies allow many media today to work almost in real time, obviously increasing their competitiveness as regards content exclusivity. In this sense, personal contacts with editorial teams, with which there are unwritten agreements on exclusivity in place, play a crucial role in distributing releases to the media. Breaching them without regard for the system could disrupt the fragile balance of unwritten rules, which is a situation that is best avoided.
For capacity reasons, the PRD is actively involved in promoting outputs with high relevance whose impact principally exceeds the horizons of individual organisational units. (In effect, promotion is not used for Department seminars or outputs related to a narrow research community in a specific field of research.) Subject to further arrangement, it is also possible to use channels controlled by the PRD for mandatory publicity, which is becoming an increasingly frequent part of many grant schemes.
Example: popularising an article prepared for publication in a high impact factor journal (Nature, Science, etc.).
Publication in a high impact factor journal is a pivotal event in the life of a scientist and their research team as well as for the institution they are affiliated with. To publish such major scientific achievements is also the pursuit of scientific media and/or the publishing houses they are part of (e.g., Springer). This is why it is advisable to prepare for promotion in good time and to act in a coordinated manner together with the PR section of the periodical and with the co-authors from other countries and also with the Public Relations Department of FSc CU, which handles media coverage for such achievements.
The entire team of scientists is informed about the acceptance for publication sufficiently in advance and is usually also informed that the publishing house is preparing a press release intended primarily for English-speaking media. As the release is drafted, it is crucial for us to make sure that the release mentions the involvement of the authors and our institution, whether it is the Faculty of Science or Charles University. The requisite logos and other visuals are available on the FSc CU website in various language versions HERE. The publication of the press release is usually strictly embargoed until an exact date and hour. It is advisable to have the input for media presentations ready by that point in time. The input should include:
A press release: It is advisable to prepare a separate language version of the release for the Czech environment – preferably along with PRD FSc CU. The release should be written in a popular language (i.e., if possible, avoiding technical terminology) and should not exceed 6,000 characters (including spaces). The final wording of the press release should be discussed with the PRD staff. Examples of press releases are available in the relevant section of the Faculty website. If the study authors are affiliated with multiple research institutions (in the Czech Republic), it is important to consult co-authors and the PR sections of those institutions on the final form of the press release. The PRD can also help a lot in this respect.
Illustrations: Visuals are a substantial part of communication. They can be the photographs of the objects under research, photos of the scientific team members, drawings, diagrams, charts, etc. Visuals should be provided in the form of separate images (i.e., not inserted in MS Word or other text editor documents). Remember that the best way is to provide images in print resolution – they can be easily downsized for use in online communication channels, but not vice versa. If a certain type of visual is missing, it is possible to arrange for obtaining or creating it through the PRD, but it is necessary to keep in mind that the process can take time. At any rate, it is important to remember the copyright and credits for images and submit them preferably along with image captions. Where a different author’s photograph or image is used for illustration, it is always necessary to use a free licence observing all citation rules.
Contact: It is vital that there is one specific person in charge of communication on behalf of the scientist team (or, as agreed, several persons with clearly defined competences) whom the media can contact if they are interested. The contact means primarily the mobile telephone number. The PRD provides contact information only upon journalists’ requests; the information is not publicly accessible and is handled very considerately.
The information may be used for external media as well as for other communication channels (see a list below).
Controlled directly by the Faculty (PRD)
1. Intended for the intra-Faculty community (or the internal-external interface):
Faculty website (most notably the ‘opener’ format, i.e., the main article on the home page), the Science Made Popular section of the Faculty website, News (Hot News) on the home page, the official FSc CU Facebook account and the official FSc CU Twitter account.
2. Popularisation targeted on laypeople and prospective FSc CU students
Media related to the Přírodovědci.cz project – website, Facebook, Twitter, and the printed Přírodovědci.cz magazine (released on a quarterly basis).
- Press agencies (primarily ČTK)
- Czech TV and Czech Radio – general editorial teams and teams dedicated to science topics
- Media across the entire University (cooperation with Charles University’s PRD: CU media – the Fórum magazine, social media)
- Websites and other media of any cooperating institutions (Institutes of the Academy of Sciences, collaborating universities, etc.)
- Commercial TV and radio stations
- Printed dailies
- Printed specialised journals (Vesmír, Živa, …)
- Printed lifestyle magazines
- Online news sites (Deník N, Aktuálně.cz, Info.cz, Respekt, …), interview formats (DVTV, etc.)
The media often have their own agendas – which generates demand for experts who are willing to comment on current developments. The customary process is such that the media representatives will contact the PRD personnel requesting contact with an expert. Usually, time is of the essence in this scenario – the willingness to respond quickly matters most. The best way to provide contact is to provide a mobile telephone number. The PRD has a list of contacts to experts; it is advisable to amend and update the list on an ongoing basis.
The Přírodovědci.cz journal was incepted in the autumn of 2012 as part of the FSc CU science popularisation project of the same name, Přírodovědci.cz. It is designed as a quarterly, its periodicity mirroring the Faculty’s four Sections. The journal is released in mid-March, June, September and December. In effect, each Section oversees one issue per year.
The journal is distributed free of charge and is not included in any distribution network. It is delivered to selected distribution points all over the Czech Republic after release. It is also available in all FSc CU buildings. In addition, there are approximately 120 subscribers who only pay the mailing cost. Its current circulation is 14,000 copies.
Below is a list of sections (in bold) that can be used for research presentation etc. further to arrangement.
- Advertising (pages 2 and 40) – a full-page advertising space intended primarily for partners
- What’s New (pages 4–7) – hot news (developments at the Faculty, scientific achievements, etc.); a one- or two-page article
- Scientists for Teachers (page 28) – an offer to primary and secondary school teachers for expanding instruction (online activities, field trips, lectures; one page)
- Students (page 29) – hot news from the student life of the Faculty (social life, sports, culture, success stories; one page)
- Culture (page 30) – the Faculty’s cultural life (theatre, exhibitions, etc.; one page)
- Publications (page 31) – current books published by authors from the Faculty
- Science in Images (pages 32–35) – popularising science through attractive photographs (research, field trips, etc.; four pages)
- Current Science (page 36) – presentation of interesting research (one page)
If you are interested in having a text published, it is necessary to act early (preferably two months prior to release; in January, April, July, or October) and book space in a section; otherwise, the publication of a text cannot be guaranteed. A tentative version of the article then should be provided at least one month prior to the release i.e., in mid-February, May, August, or November.
The Přírodovědci.cz website can publish any news item instantly; the article should be of a popularisation nature, since the Faculty community is not the target audience in this case.
It is also possible to announce interesting events (lectures, etc.) held in cooperation with the Faculty. At the same time, new content is advertised at the Přírodovědci.cz Facebook and Twitter pages, significantly expanding the article’s reach.
If you are interested in publishing an article in print or online, please contact the magazine’s editor, Petr Souček (email@example.com), or the Head of the PRD directly, Michal Andrle (firstname.lastname@example.org) in good time.