Researchers Learn Communication Best Practices

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Tell the truth. Be brief. Speak in common language.

These are just a few of the tips that a panel of experts shared during a Jan. 11 seminar,  “Communicating Technical Research to Policymakers and Media.” The event was part of the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) monthly Technical Seminar Series.

Those providing tips for communicating with policymakers included GTRI’s Doug Britton, senior research engineer, Danielle Ayan, senior research scientist and Jud Ready, principal research engineer; Warren Matthews, a research scientist in the Office of Technology; and Danny Boston, a School of Economics professor.

Britton, who regularly appears before the Georgia Legislature to talk about his state-funded food processing and technology program, recommended rehearsing sound bites ahead of time, as if you were being interviewed by the media.

“Figure out the three to five words you want to communicate, even if your presentation is much longer,” Britton said. “Repeat them often.”

Fatimot Ladipo, assistant director of federal relations in the Office of Government and Community Relations, offered the following tips when dealing with policymakers:

  • Speak in “common folks’ language.”
  • Do your research on the group or individual you are speaking with.
  • Notify Government and Community Relations when you’re contacted by a policymaker.

The panelists providing tips for communicating with the media included GTRI researchers who ranged in experience from first-timer to veteran including Andrew Howard, Leanne West, Jason Nadler and Sheila Isbell.

“Be prepared for contacts when a story goes out from communications,” Nadler said. “If they release a story on your work, you will know it immediately because your email inbox and voice mail will fill up in a hurry.”

The panelists also suggested these tips:

  • Treat every conversation as “on the record.”
  • Notify the communications office in your department or college.
  • Rehearse sound bites ahead of time.

For personalized media training, contact Matt Nagel, director of media relations.



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