Some Guidelines for Scientists Interacting with the Press

Some greats tips for scientists interacting with the press from Nature.

Know your audience… Understanding this will help you to talk to them at the appropriate level of detail.

The medium matters. The depth and type of question differ depending on whether the journalist is from radio, television, or an online or print publication. Deadline pressures — daily, weekly or monthly — also affect the agenda and level of detail.

Be diligent. Consider looking at earlier work by the reporter to make sure that he or she has produced quality pieces [AMEN!]….“You shouldn’t answer the phone and start talking.”

Prepare. Think about the message you want to convey and the 3–5 major points you want to make. But be ready for an interview to go in an unexpected direction.

Don’t go beyond your knowledge.

You can ask to check quotes and other contributions, but reporters may refuse.

Be careful when trying to be funny if that is not your natural manner — it could flop terribly, or backfire.

As you proceed with the interview, look for cues that the reporter understands your comments and explanations.

When you sign off, make sure to provide your contact info and let the reporter know how and when you will be available if further explanation is needed.

Make sure you check out the rest of article as well. Outreach: Meet the press : Nature : Nature Publishing Group.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.