Keep This in Mind When Writing About Science

Most public relations (PR) professionals didn’t attend medical school or study science, yet for many, they are tasked with writing about it. So, keep this in mind before you start to write about science – keep it simple.

This may be easier said than done but keeping your writing simple is a must. Scientific and technical information need to be put into easy-to-understand terms. Breakdown your topic in a way that will make sense to the person on the street or else you will lose your audience. Sound familiar? Check out this blog on the importance of knowing your audience. Don’t forget what you learned in your journalism class. You need to be able to answer the who, what, where, when, why and how, when talking about science.

Over the 32 years Oster and Associates has been in business, we have learned to evolve with our clients. It’s imperative to grow with the times and as such, with your clients. If you’re in the business of PR, chances are you’re bound to support a science or technology company one day. It’s just a matter of when.

San Diego, where Oster is headquartered, is home to the fourth largest concentration of biotechnology companies in the world, Boston being number one. The influx of biotech companies started more than 50 years ago, thanks to the establishment of the Salk Institute, Scripps and the University of San Diego, California. Today there are well over 430 biotech companies in San Diego.

At Oster, we realize biotech continues to be a booming business in San Diego, and we are primed to write about the good work our science community is doing. We know news can come from an array of sources like clinical papers, premarket approval (PMA) application submissions, results of clinical trials, medical studies, speaking abstracts and the addition of new board members.

Whatever the news may be, be sure that it’s not too confusing. Medical device and therapeutic press releases often read like an excerpt from a clinical research report. It’s our job to be storytellers – to engage our audience and pull at their heartstrings. Talk about what the technology enables. Who would care about this new drug or instrument? What’s in it for them? How do they benefit? Make it personal.

The best types of stories are human interest stories about treatments, implants and diagnostics. These stories can heighten awareness of the problem while educating the public.

Start distribution with trade and local media and then expand using social media (Twitter, YouTube, blogging) and start commenting on relevant articles. Again, it will be important to talk in lay terms and use as little technical jargon as possible.

Once your audience receives clear and concise messages, the same themes should run through all communication channels. For biotech companies, these channels can be digital media, industry newsletters, radio talk shows, TV medical shows, Internet radio, articles by experts and let’s not forget the tried and true method of spreading the news, the good old press release.

Biotechnology may be complex, but in the right PR hands, it can be very rewarding. Planning, strategy, key messaging and positioning are all important elements in the process of executing a high-quality business strategy, but at the end of the day, no one will read your news unless it makes sense. Writing about science doesn’t have to be difficult if you keep it simple. In fact, it can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience.