We’re always happy to hear about scientific advances and innovation. We work closely with the CRCHUM’s research teams to promote research news. However, not everything is suitable for media exposure. With 480-plus researchers working at the CRCHUM, we have to be selective.
We therefore prioritize the breakthroughs and innovations that are most likely to interest audiences that we strategically target. Our promotion and distribution strategy is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the following criteria, among others:
- Timing — Currency is extremely important for journalists. There is little chance that they will cover a study that was published weeks before they became aware of it. The earlier we are informed, the more likely we will be to do something. For an article, the best time to contact us is when it is accepted for publication;
- Value of the information — The first thing journalists ask themselves: will the information interest our readers/viewers/listeners? Most of the time, a good story consists of simple ingredients: a human touch, a potential impact on people’s lives, a controversy, a wow factor or resonance with current events;
- For medical research, we need to know what stage the research is at and check to see whether a new discovery could have a demonstrable impact on patients’ lives. Remember: a promising new therapy in the laboratory doesn’t have the same value in the eyes of journalists as the positive results of a clinical trial.
One thing is certain: working with the media requires time, availability, involvement and outreach efforts.
Why should researchers be interested in the media?
Media coverage is a very effective way of getting information out to the different levels of government, donors and the general public and of enabling them to appreciate the value of your research work. Public funding bodies are increasingly interested in drawing media attention to the outcomes of the research studies they fund.
From a broader perspective, well-articulated stories about scientific discoveries and advances help demystify science and remind policymakers and the public of the importance of basic research and its impacts in our lives.
By collaborating with the media, you’ll be able to:
- Increase your visibility // Media relations help build your reputation as an expert or well-known commentator in your field of research. Increased visibility can help raise funds, recruit promising students, initiate new international collaborations and promote your institution’s brand;
- Influence public policy // For policymakers, research often becomes “real” and is taken seriously when it has been published in the press. By agreeing to appear in the media, you have more chances of influencing the private sector, policymakers and NGOs;
- Focus on what matters // Taking on the challenge of clearly and concisely explaining to a non-scientific audience why your research is important can make you refine your research program and think about how you communicate your research work.
Why should I work with the Media Relations team and the news media?
Highlighting the CRCHUM’s research excellence is beneficial not only for the recruitment of researchers, students and talented staff, but also for fundraising and grant applications. This visibility has a positive impact on community and government relations.
Working with us and the media can have a positive impact on you, your research teams, your colleagues and your institution, as well as the Université de Montréal.
When should I contact you to give you news about my research work?
As early as possible.
In the world of news, timing is crucial. If you contact us after the fact, it’s usually too late to attract media interest. The more time we have before the announcement of the news, the more efficient we can be. Keep in mind that the majority of the media coverage that you read, see or hear has been planned.
Some advice if you think your story is likely to attract media attention:
- Let us know as soon as the article is accepted by a scientific journal;
- Provide us with a copy of your study so that we can evaluate it on the basis of its media value and determine the best time and way of promoting it. When necessary, we will inform journalists, under an embargo, to give them time to write their articles before the study is officially published;
- Let us know if the results of the study stem from collaboration with other institutions. We generally prepare a common press release that can be adapted to each partner’s distribution channels. This way, journalists do not receive several press releases on the same news topic;
- Be available for interviews if your story generates interest.
How does the Media Relations team share news with the news media?
We adjust our approaches to meet the needs of each media type. We’ve developed specific expertise in promoting CRCUHM research and stories to the media.
If a press release or exclusive media advisory is the best option for announcing study results or key initiatives of our institution, we’ll use our comprehensive updated media directory.
Please note that a press release isn’t always the best way to reach a target audience. We may therefore suggest that you offer the story exclusively to one media outlet or that you use other CRCHUM communication channels such as:
- Web news;
- Social media channels that many journalists follow: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn;
- Opinion pieces.
In addition to our traditional media relations channels, we collaborate daily with teams at the Université de Montréal to maximize the impact of distributing our stories.
What are the ingredients of a good story?
We’re all fascinated by things that could have an impact on us, either immediately or in the future. By giving practical examples and tying your research into our everyday lives, you’ll be able to give life to a story that otherwise would have been rather dull for the media. As a general rule, the higher the human-interest level, the more likely it will interest journalists.
You obviously don’t have any control over current events. But some ingredients will increase your chances that a media outlet will cover your research work.
- Newness — Are your research results meaningful and new?
- A hook — What makes your research worth publishing in the media? Why is it important to talk about it? Is it related to the news, the publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal, etc.?
- A human dimension — how does your research work affect or influence your fellow citizens in their everyday lives? Does it have an impact on their health? Do you know any patients who could testify?
- Aspects that are surprising, eccentric or controversial;
- A strong visual element.
Please note that the level of importance of your research in your scientific circle doesn’t always translate into media interest—which is based on the needs of its readership or audience. However, the more it encompasses the points mentioned above, the more likely mainstream media will report on it.
What’s the best way to help us tell your science story?
In a paragraph, explain what the scientific breakthrough consists of, why you think it is important and why it could be interesting for someone not working in your field. Is your study the first of its kind? Or what sets it apart from other similar studies? Are there any controversies that I should be aware of?
- Write using the simplest words possible, avoiding jargon and technical terms;
- Include some easily digestible facts and figures. Most people don’t want to know about the detailed methodology you used, but they do like to understand how your results were obtained;
- Provide us with the publication date and the name of the scientific journal;
- Give us an idea of what audience you’re targeting. Who should be concerned by your study and why?
- Mention the names of the organizations that funded your research;
- Send us a copy of the article and your contact information. Let us know if high-resolution images or videos related to the study are available.
If we decide to promote your study, we will ask you other questions about it, either in person, by phone or by email. We will then write up a press release, media advisory or web news item.
You’ll have a chance to look over the article for factual errors. Please note that the articles are written in an in-house journalistic style and are designed to appeal to the general public. That’s why we ask that you point out factual errors to us, but not to change the style or format of the article.
Is media coverage guaranteed?
Given the outstanding and varied achievements of the CRCHUM community, we are unable to attract media attention for all topics that may be interesting.
Remember that media outlets, both big and small, have limited time for their journalists to cover current events. Many editors receive hundreds of proposals every day!
Contacting the Media Relations team about a potential story maximizes your chances of getting media coverage, but cannot guarantee it.
What alternatives do I have if the media team doesn’t promote my research?
If the Media Relations team doesn’t promote your research work, other possibilities are available to you: spread the word on our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) or in a news article circulated on our website, and, where relevant, on our partners’ websites (Université de Montréal, Faculty of Medicine, etc.).
We also encourage you to contribute and propose articles to The Conversation Canada, an online, independent media outlet providing news and current events analysis, which publishes mainstream articles written by researchers and academics. To date, its content has been distributed across 22,000 news sites throughout the world and reaches a global audience of 42 million readers every month.
The Université de Montréal is one of the founding members of The Conversation Canada and enjoys a certain number of advantages, including the translation into English of all texts written by its professors and PhD candidates and their distribution on The Conversation’s English-language platforms. You will also be supported by a team of experienced journalists to help you disseminate your knowledge to a wider audience.
To become an author: https://theconversation.com/become-an-author
A journalist contacted me. What should I do?
You should let the Media Relations people know. Our team is there to help you.
We will contact the journalist to see what his expectations (story angle, subjects discussed, etc.) and timeframe are. We will also check to see that you are the best source of information on the topic and coordinate the logistics of an on-site or remote interview.
We also ensure that your affiliation with the CRCHUM is included in the story so that we can pick up your appearance during our media monitoring activities and promote it throughout our different distribution channels (press review, social media, newsletter, etc.).
Why is it important to keep your online researcher profile updated?
We encourage our researchers to promote their expertise to the media. To facilitate journalists’ work and ensure that they reach out to the right person on a given topic, it is essential that you make sure that your biographical and contact information is correct.
It is worth noting that the online “researcher profiles” of our scientists are among the most visited pages of our website. It’s the most accessible gateway for the media. Be recognized for your expertise, not your neighbour’s!
Can the Media Relations team help me prepare for an interview?
Yes. Communicating effectively with the press is a skill that can be learned and developed.
Our document Media Interview: Guide for Scientists will give you the basic essential tools you need to know to have a conversation with a media representative.
How should I prepare for an interview?
Talk to a member of the Media Relations team beforehand to evaluate visibility opportunities, agree or not agree to give the interview and discuss questions that you might be asked. An interview simulation might be helpful.
As a rule, journalists want to know the impact of your research on people’s day-to-day lives, even if your results come from your basic research work. Behind every article and every news report, there is always the idea of a story to tell with a strong narrative, heroes, obstacles, impacts, etc.
Keep in mind that journalists are very busy people. If they find that you are an interesting source of factual information and easy to contact, they will tend to approach you repeatedly.
A few basic tips to help you prepare:
The point of the interview is not to impress your peers; it’s to make yourself understood.
- Decide on two or three key messages that you want to convey. They should be brief, powerful and relevant. Would you be able to get them across in the time it takes to go up three floors in an elevator? That’s the maximum message length you should aim for;
- When you explain a concept, imagine that you’re explaining it t to a 12-year-old child;
- Replace medical, scientific and technical jargon with more common terms. Don’t use a complex word when a simpler word would do;
- Use easy-to-understand comparisons, analogies and examples to illustrate your ideas and the complex aspects of your study;
- Humanize your figures to give your audience a better sense of the scale or impact;
- As a rule, nothing is off the record. Assume that everything you say could be quoted, even if the journalist has put away their notebook or turned off their tape recorder;
- Never say, “no comment”, as it can make people think that you have something to hide. Instead, say, “I’m not the best person to ask—you should contact X or Y”;
- If your research work is controversial, be prepared to answer difficult questions. Ask the Media Relations Office for help if you feel you need it.
Read our Media Interview: Guide for Scientists to find out how to have a conversation with a media representative.
As a scientist and academic, can I comment on current issues to journalists?
Every year, the Media Relations team receives hundreds of calls from print, radio and TV journalists from Quebec, Canada and around the world, seeking expertise or comments from CRCHUM scientists on a wide variety of topical issues. It’s a very effective way of getting visibility for your research work in the media.
To help connect CRCHUM researchers with journalists, the Media Relations people continuously update their exhaustive database of the different areas of research expertise.
We encourage our research teams to showcase their expertise through the media or, if they already have a presence on the media landscape, to make sure that the biographical and contact information in their researcher profiles are up-to-date.
If you see an article in the news or if you expect media coverage of a subject in which you specialize in the near future (government report, policy, etc.), contact the Media Relations Team and we will see to it that journalists are informed of your availability to comment.
Does the Media Relations team publicize the winning of grants and awards?
It is always a good idea to inform our team when a research project has received funding or an individual or group has received recognition. However, we generally prioritize research results over funding and award announcements when considering potential reports or press releases.
Other possibilities are available to you: spread the word on our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) or in a news article circulated on our website, and, where relevant, on our partners’ websites (Université de Montréal, Faculty of Medicine, etc.).
There are obviously a few exceptions to this rule: we’ll surely contact you if you win a Nobel Prize, for example!
Do you promote events?
As a rule, the Media Relations team does not contact the media to promote events that you take part in. Instead, announcements are made via posts on our social media platforms.
In certain cases, if you let us know about it in advance, we may invite journalists to your event. This is more likely if your event involves a speech from a well-known public personality.
What should I do if a journalist wants to film or take photos at the CRCHUM?
If you’ve been approached by a media representative to film or take photos on the CRCHUM’s premises, please let the Media Relations team know. Some areas of the research centre have very limited access (Unit for Innovative Therapies, biosafety level 3 core facility, cyclotron, etc.).
Permission to film is required in all cases and we must accompany the media in our facilities during the report or photo shoot.
It should be noted, however, that in the context of a pandemic, the possibilities for media presence on the CRCHUM premises are very limited.