News story

The science of communicating

The Department for Business is working with organisations to better understand the challenges of science communication.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

futuristic science image - iStock

At a conference on 6 October 2014 in London, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) joined forces with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine Public Relations Association (Stempra) to look at better ways of communicating science.

Earlier in 2014, Chalkstream Communications was commissioned by BIS and CIPR to research roles in science public relations and to identify the challenges faced in relation to the accurate communication of scientific information. The research results give a broader understanding of science public relations practice, the settings in which it has to function in the UK and the potential for improving effectiveness.

At the conference over 100 senior leaders from all corners of the science communications community - public, private and charitable - discussed how the public relations industry can help to address some of the concerns highlighted in the research.

The event gave delegates the opportunity to respond to the opportunities offered by open data and social media and explore professional development opportunities.

Speakers included:

  • Sir John O’Reilly, Director General Knowledge and Innovation, BIS
  • Russell Grossman, Director of Communications, BIS
  • David Shukman, BBC Science Editor
  • Ben Verinder, Chalkstream Communications
  • Dr Andy Williams, Cardiff University
  • Professor Petroc Sumner, Cardiff University
  • Sue Wolstenholme, Past President, CIPR
  • Rob Brown, President-Elect 2015, CIPR
  • Dr Ed Sykes, Stempra

Commenting, Sue Wolstenholme, former President of CIPR, said:

I am very pleased to see the initiative launched when I was CIPR President is delivering results that the public relations profession and the science community can act upon. It is of critical importance to public understanding of science that we address the problems that face public relations professionals working in this area. This meeting and the outcomes from the research are, I hope, the start of a process of improvement.

BIS Communications Director Russell Grossman said:

Professional and effective science communications are fundamental to public understanding, support and uptake of new technologies. I’m delighted that this impressive community, led by BIS, CIPR and Stempra, has been able to get together to identify ways we can do this better.

BBC Science Editor David Shukman also commented:

Communicating science in an engaging and accessible way is something which drives me personally and professionally. I’m pleased to support today’s efforts to help ensure the supply of science stories is both accurate and captivating.

Published 6 October 2014