If you happened to be in downtown Raleigh, NC, during the last week of October, you may have noticed that Sir Walter Raleigh—that is, the 11-ft. bronze statue of him that stands in front of the Convention Center—was donning a giant lab coat. This was to welcome attendees of the 2012 Science Writers conference, which is an annual joint meeting of the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. I attended the meeting, and through workshops, presentations, tours, and general networking, one thing was clear: effective science communication requires so much more than issuing press releases through traditional media outlets.
This is not to say that press releases and traditional media aren’t useful—they’re just tools among many in an ever-expanding toolbox. Different communication approaches reach different audiences, and we need only look at ourselves as evidence of this. How, when, where, and from whom do you get news and information each day? Most likely you stay in tune with the world through many sources and devices that offer numerous options to read, watch, listen to, and share news and information. Blogs, tweets, podcasts, and more (in addition to newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV) allow us to be connected in seemingly infinite ways. Science communicators have more opportunities than ever to engage and interact with the public—and inspire the next generation of scientists—whether they’re down the street or across the globe.
Visit www.nasw.org to learn more about the National Association of Science Writers and to access resources and tips for science writing and communication.