Communicators and outreach personnel at LTER sites come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are trained as scientists and gravitated to outreach and communications as they saw the need. Others have worked as educators, reporters, or communications professionals before coming to the LTER Network. By learning from each other’s strengths, we build the Network’s capacity to reach the broader scientific community, resource managers, decision-makers, and educators.
- So you have an exciting result? Now what? Depending on the skills and resources at your site and within your institution, there are a number of ways a site communicator might handle a news-worthy result. General guidelines are listed here, but if you’re in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to the NCO for advice.
- If your result is scientifically interesting and based on site-specific data, your first stop will be the media relations office of the university or agency with which the lead author is affiliated. The media relations professionals there can help you figure out how much and what kind of outreach makes sense. They can also advise you about timing and coordination with other investigators and institutions, including NSF. If you end up doing a press release or social media campaign, please inform the NCO well in advance, so we can help amplify the message.
- If your result relates to the Network as a whole, the National Science Foundation Office of Legislative and Public Affairs and the Network Communications Office will coordinate on media relations. Examples of such outputs include LTER Network publications, synthesis results, and Network-wide education or diversity initiatives.
- Long-term research can play a major role in improving land-, water-, and resource-management decisions. But doing media outreach on results with policy implications poses some special considerations. If you expect to release an article, report or other output that falls into this category, please contact the NCO as soon as possible to discuss possible approaches to it. The Science Policy Exchange can also be a useful resource for these types of projects.
- The Network uses the USLTER Facebook account primarily to share information and activities that may resonate most strongly with students, educators and public audiences. Consider following the USLTER Facebook account to receive (and share) regular updates. Education-Outreach managers also maintain a private Facebook group for education-specific content.
- The @USLTER Twitter account is more oriented toward LTER science, data-sharing, and science communications. We track a list of LTER sites that tweet, as well as a variety of key science bloggers, journalists and twitter-savvy scientists.
- We’ve also developed a brief Twitter for Scientists primer on how to use twitter as a professional development and networking tool.
- The recently-launched US LTER YouTube account is a place to find inspiration, share your site’s videos, or maintain an online home for LTER video content.
- Video abstracts are an exciting new trend in scientific publishing. They can be as simple to produce as recording a Skype conversation with your students. Or they can be fully scripted and incorporate photos, animations and field video.
- The NCO has put together an overview and tip sheet for video production, with special reference to video abstracts and also led a hands-on workshop at the 2017 Ecological Society of America Meeting.
Web Site Development
- Want to learn more about search engine optimization? Elegant Themes has a nice blog post on writing to optimize SEO.
- The Science Communication Section of the Ecological Society of America has a useful resource guide for ecologists who are interested in building their science communication skills.
- The American Geophysical Union has published Kudos, a toolkit for authors to help them explain, share, and measure their article for maximum impact.
- The American Association for Advancement of Science maintains a set of resources for effectively communicating your science.