Beyond Borders: Reaching Out to the International Press
Thirty-seven public information officers working at Japanese institutions and students interested in science journalism attended the two-day media training workshop held by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) in collaboration with the Japan Association of Communication for Science and Technology (JACST) on August 15-16. Managing Editor Rowan Hooper and Editorial Content Director Valerie Jamieson of the New Scientist magazine led the participants through discussions and activities addressing topics such as the international opportunities for Japanese science communication, how to write better press releases in English and when to send them out, and how to build relationships with international journalists. The content covered was tailored to respond to the challenges that press officers in Japan are facing.
At the beginning of the workshop, Neil Calder, OIST’s Vice President for Communications and Public Relations, welcomed the participants: “I am pleased that OIST is hosting the very first hands-on workshop on international science communication in Japan. ”
On day one, after introducing each other, the participants were introduced to the surprising effectiveness of English press releases and learned how to write them better. They also learned what international journalists are looking for. Sharing experiences with their counterparts helped participants to gain better understanding and find solutions to their challenges at work.
On day two, the speakers explained how to better communicate with in-house scientists and build relationships with international journalists. They also taught participants how to send out press releases and use social media to increase their audience.
Peter Karagiannis, Science Writer from the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University commented that the workshop was very helpful because “The way of communication that I was practicing was wrong when viewed from the journalist’s perspective. ” Asked what she gained from the experience, Satomi Takei, a public relations officer from Kyushu University said, “The workshop gave me a great opportunity to meet with media officers with whom I can share opinions.”
The speakers also enjoyed the two-day program saying, “I was impressed how the participants are so motivated,” enthused Ms. Jamieson. She also emphasized the need for continuing this kind of workshop for Japanese institutions. Mr. Hooper was pleased that “the size of the group was just perfect to interact with each participant.” He encouraged them, saying, “Japan is a world leader in scientific research. We as foreign journalists need more information from you."
By Tomomi Okubo
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