Frequently asked questions
NERC has a number of ways to monitor the press coverage that we receive - we subscribe to a 'press cuttings' agency who do a lot of the automated work. We also monitor the internet using Google news (anyone can set up alerts using specific key words) and get periodic reports from HEIs who have issued a press release about NERC-funded research. We also capture press reporting and other stories online using Scoop.it - external link.
The reason for monitoring and capturing all this information is to understand how many people are finding out about the work we fund and how they hear about it - whether this is just following a link on Twitter, or reading a full article in the broadsheet.
NERC is required, by our parent department in government, BIS, to report this coverage - this allows BIS to understand what we are doing to promote the value of research funded by the taxpayer - it also allows us and them to make a case for continued science funding.
Ideally you should contact your institution's press office and the NERC media office as soon as your paper is accepted - not the day before it is published! By giving this notice to press offices, you allow them to plan how best to maximise coverage of your work, write a press release and arrange for you to be interviewed by journalists who want to write about your research.
Contacting your organisation's press office and the NERC media office allows everyone to work together to maximise publicity, work out who leads on the story and in some cases allows NERC to get a quote from government to include in your press release. This can be a great way to raise the profile of your work across a range of audiences; within your organisation, across NERC and all the way into government.
It usually depends on who takes the lead on your work, for example your institution or the NERC media office - the lead partner will typically be the one to issue a press release and work with you to arrange interviews.
Sometimes NERC does not feel a press release is the right approach for a particular story, we may instead write a news article for Planet Earth and use that to pitch the story to a particular media outlet (such as the BBC) - this can work very well as the outlet gets an exclusive about your research so are more likely to cover it.
If you are dealing with a crisis, or a potentially sensitive or controversial issue, that might generate media interest then please contact us.
It's important for scientists to be honest and transparent about their research, particularly in areas that can be placed in a negative light.
We can work with you to proactively communicate anything that you think could be used to try to undermine your work. If you wait, this information could be seized on by those that do not like your research. By taking the initiative you have the opportunity to give context and explain the background.
If you require training or advice on speaking to the media for a specific interview coming up, then please contact our media team who will be able to advise you.
There are a number of other free courses which will help to build your skills in public engagement and communicating your research to different audiences:
Read our tips and advice for working with the broadcast media for further information.
If you require training or advice on speaking to the media for a specific upcoming interview, please contact our media team.
The NERC media office has to cover a very wide range of press issues, and has a specific responsibility to raise awareness of NERC-funded research to our parent government department (BIS). This means we are unable to cover all the science that we fund.
Typically we will promote the outcome of funding calls that may involve a range of research organisations, or a particular issue that is of great interest where we may be able to get a ministerial quote, or even have it included in a ministerial speech. Your institution's press office will typically take the lead on promoting the results of your funding - for example papers that are published. But we want to know about all of this so we can promote this as widely as possible.
Sometimes, if you have a paper being published but your institution's media office doesn't have the time, or there are lots of people and institutions involved, then the NERC media office will coordinate everyone and lead the publicity.
It's normal practice for researchers to let both their institution and their funding body's media office know when they are doing something that might attract media attention, and then the media offices will work together to get the best coverage for your research.
An added advantage of contacting the NERC media office is that, even if the news isn't suitable for a media release NERC's media office can still promote it on social media, and in some cases we may write an article for Planet Earth Online or commission you to write a feature for Planet Earth magazine instead.
An ISDN line is often used by television broadcasters to transfer voice, video and data across phone lines. It's often the same hardware that you would use on a video conference call.
If a journalist contacts you and would like to speak to you over an ISDN line then contact your institution's media office, as it's likely they have one set up and can show you how to use it.
If any of these things happen then please get in touch:
- A journalist contacts you directly.
- You've had a paper accepted for publication in a scientific journal.
- Your institution's media office is making an announcement you're involved with.
- You're presenting findings at a scientific conference (or would like to live-tweet from a conference on NERC's behalf).
- You're soon to go on a field trip, expedition or cruise (please let us know as soon as you know - even if it is a year away, we often get contacted by production companies wanting to film expeditions such as these and they need a lot of notice).
- You'd like to be included in our experts database so that we can pass your contact details to journalists and radio or television production companies.
- You'd like to set up a social media channel.
- You're interested in media training.
If you've had a paper accepted then get in touch with us straight away, as it's at this stage we can draft a media release. If you contact us once it's been published then it becomes much harder to promote.
A media release, also known as a press release, is an official statement about a particular issue that is made by an institution and issued to the media. View recent NERC media releases.
These releases work as a channel for you to get the facts and information about your piece of news, be it a paper you've recently had accepted for publication or a successful field trip, into the media. To learn more about why we send them out, read our tips and advice for working with the media.
The media officer will speak to you to get the facts about the issue, and then write a professional press release and send it to the UK's top science journalists. They can set up phone, radio and TV interviews, if appropriate, and advise you on how best to approach them. They will also coordinate promotional activities to make sure you get the most out of any media opportunities that come your way.
We are always looking for interesting news stories and features about NERC-funded science, but please don't send unsolicited articles as we can't guarantee to publish them. Discuss your ideas with the magazine's editors by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to start making videos of your research but don't have a camera then NERC media office has a few cameras available that we are willing to lend out to researchers to video their projects.
Please contact the media office if you'd like to use one of them.
If you've already taken a great video then get in touch with us. We can advise you on the best way to send it to us and then discuss the options for promoting it.
If you've just been contacted by a journalist don't panic. Ask them who they work for, what their deadline is and take their contact details. If you have time and are happy to speak with them further, say you'll call them back and use the time until then to get advice and prepare.
You can read useful information about working with the written and broadcast media on our tips and advice page.
If you need further support then contact either your institution's media office or the NERC media team.
An embargo is normally only relevant to a media release about an event, or a paper being published in a journal.
It prohibits the media from reporting on your research until it's published, or on an event until it's happened. The deadline is often set by a journal to allow them to send out information, but to prevent any coverage happening until after that deadline.
The embargo provides journalists and researchers time to talk in advance of the deadline to cover the story, check quotes and generally prepare before it goes live.
Most journalists respect embargoes and will wait until the deadline before covering your research - the embargo allows them get their story ready to go at the same time as their competitors.
If something happens that you think might be newsworthy, then contact our media office.
Media officers know what makes your research newsworthy and will bring this to the fore in the media release. When people read about a piece of research they want to know what's in it for them. Why should they care about your work? Who will benefit from it?
Journalists receive hundreds of releases each day and if they can't see what the story is about and why it's important in the first few sentences, this opportunity to get your work into the media will have been missed. This is why it's so important to involve your media office at an early stage.
One of our media officers will get in contact with the media office at your institution, to discuss who will lead on the publicity. They will then speak to you to get the facts about the issue, write a professional media release and send it to the UK's top science journalists. We can also can set up phone, radio and TV interviews, if appropriate, and advise you on how best to approach them.
The leading media office will also coordinate promotional activities to make sure you get the most out of any media opportunities that come your way.
Don't forget to tell the media office about any great photographs or video taken during the course of your work, or if you are about to do some fieldwork in an exotic or relatively unexplored location!
If you have any further questions or queries, or would like to find out more about any of the topics mentioned above, please contact the NERC media office.