Ideas for Publicizing Your Research
Work with your university’s public information office to develop and distribute a press release to media outlets. Be prepared to share with the writer a copy of the published article along with additional background information that can be used to create the content. One of the most important items in preparing a press release is to distill your findings to one statement that explains why they are noteworthy. This will be the lead paragraph of the press release and used to attract attention in the crowded information marketplace. A lead typically contains six elements (who, what, when, where, why, how) written in an active sentence that presents the crux of the findings. The following paragraphs will expand upon the lead and typically are written in order of descending importance. This has been done traditionally because news outlets cut press releases from the bottom up to fill available space. In the electronic environment space is most often not a concern, but the protocol remains. Having a lead prepared in advance or simply being ready to answer these six questions when you meet with the writer will speed the process. Also, plan to explain your findings in language that non-physicians will easily grasp. This will not only assist the writer in crafting the release, but also the person answering media inquiries and selecting outlets for placement. Always ask that your press release include a URL to the article on the AJNR site so that reporters and readers can access the full piece.
Your university probably has a press distribution list but should welcome the suggestion of additional scientific media outlets. Consider your strategy for distribution so that you can work with your public information officer to select the publications that receive your press release. Having your study findings broadcast in this way can lead to further coverage when reporters use the release as the basis for expanded articles that they may wish to write, or as a source for broader pieces they are preparing. Media contacts such as these also lead to the author becoming part of a “Golden Rolodex”—they are the person called to comment as an expert upon neuroimaging-related stories in breaking news. Potential targets for your press release are:
- EurekAlert! Arguably the best science site for news releases, this is an on-line international news service hosted by AAAS. Your school’s public information officer can apply for an account if they do not already have one and upload your press release. Many mass media outlets monitor the content on this site and use it to prepare general interest articles and posts.
- ScienceDaily. Public information officers can e-mail press releases intended for the Mind and Brain News and Bone and Spine News sections to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- NIH Research Matters. If you conducted an NIH-funded study, your press release will automatically be considered in this feed if it is uploaded in EurekAlert! and NIH funding is indicated in that system. If your university contact is not sure how to mark items as NIH-funded in the EurekAlert! system, have them contact Bill Duval, head of the Public Information Officer Network at NIH (email@example.com).
- NeuroNews and Interventional News sites. Submit press releases to Urmila Doraswami at: firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
- AuntMinnie.com. The radiology news section accepts and publishes releases that cover medical imaging research. Send yours to: email@example.com
Does your article present the opportunity to start an on-line discussion? Social media options allow you to comment informally upon concepts in your article and offer opinions about any ideas or findings presented in the study. Posts can be thought-provoking and informative but are not intended to be an abstracting opportunity. This is the time to be creative with your content and present snippets of the backstory or unpredicted elements of your findings, or to engage other researchers and gather feedback before planning your path forward to your next investigation. You can include an image or chart if these will attract attention and are meaningful outside the context of the article. Remember to include a link to your article within your post.
AJNR’s Blog welcomes contributions. Our blog is moderated and offers an opportunity to place your first post and have feedback provided if the format or content need fine-tuning.
You can use 140 characters to let followers know when your article is posted electronically and update them with other milestones including mentions in popular media and inclusion in any most cited/most read lists. Be sure to include a link to your article on the AJNR Web site in your tweet. You can abbreviate this by creating a tiny URL to keep within your character limit. If you don’t have a Twitter account, contact our Twitter Editor Jennifer McCarty to discuss tweeting your news. Follow AJNR’s Twitter feed at: @AmJNeuroradiol and feel free to re-tweet our content.
Article Rating Systems
Let your colleagues know when your article is published and invite them to read and rate it. These ratings help raise the profile of your work. Two places that allow article ratings are:
AJNR provides a content feed to DocGuide. Physician members are asked to star the articles and abstracts they view on the site if the information is clinically relevant. Each physician who finds a piece clinically relevant increases the number of stars for that article. DocGuide sends a weekly e-mail listing the most popular articles in radiology based on the stars added by readers. Articles that make this list gain additional views on our site through the link in this e-mail.
When you come across recent work by other authors that could have benefitted from your own findings that were still unpublished at the time of their study, write a letter to the editor and share the relevant information. Likewise, if you read a future study that is at odds with your conclusions and should have referenced yours, this is another opportunity to mention your article and have it linked in PubMed to the newer study.