Tips for communicating
The University is a busy place, and we generate more information every day. To improve your chances of being heard, here are some points to consider when you want to get your word out.
Don't reinvent the wheel
Look at what channels the university already has for communicating with staff and students. Before trying to do your own thing, check to see if someone else is already talking to your audience. It's far easier to join a conversation than to start a new one.
Planning is vital
When you start a project - whatever the size - think about:
- what you would like to say to your audience
- what you would like them to do with that information.
Your project may be groundbreaking, but without effective communication it will be difficult getting others excited or involved.
Is your message clear?
- What type of language are you using?
- Are you using 20 words where five could do?
- Is your message appropriate for your audience?
Remember: Most of us are exposed to an enormous amount of information daily - keep it clear and simple.
Does it need to go to everyone on the list?
Many departments have their own mailing lists. You can send newsletters to everyone, but think carefully about an email on a single issue. Can it be targeted to specific people? Are there existing channels you could use? Is email really the best way to get your message out?
Are you communicating effectively?
If you are producing lots of information, perhaps you could think about a regular newsletter. Does all the information you are sending really need to go out? Do you actually need to say it? People feel overwhelmed by frequent emails and messages.
What are you up against?
What other emails might your recipients have received lately? Mail has peaks and troughs: consider what else is going on in the university and judge how your message will contribute to the other communications. Is there a better time to send your message, or another way to reach your audience?
If you are new to dealing with the media, or just need some extra pointers, then you might find the following resources helpful:
Science Media Savvy
Helping scientists work effectively with the news media.
The Hamster Wheel: Science in the media
A lighthearted look at science in the news today