marketing scientific discoveries

Marketing Scientific Discoveries: When Public Relations Tactics Shine

When your scientists, equipment, technology or services have been used to produce outstanding discoveries, you want people to know. How can you use public relations to promote them?

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Promotion of scientific discoveries is an often-overlooked method of building awareness and prestige for your company.

When your scientists, equipment, technology or services have been used to produce outstanding discoveries, you should want people to know about it.

Because of its emphasis on earned media and third party coverage, public relations is often an excellent channel. So, how can you use public relations to promote scientific discoveries?

1) Press Releases

Press releases are frequently used to report the general results of recent research; indeed, several of C&EN’s top scientific discoveries of 2016, such as the discovery of the 3D structure of a DNAzyme, used press releases as their main method of promotion.

When using a release for this purpose, there are several factors to keep in mind.

First, connect the published research to your overall message. The research may be newsworthy in and of itself, but take this opportunity to support your brand and contribute your message to industry-wide conversations.

Second, a press release is a public relations tactic, but it is not an all-inclusive strategy. Use a release to attract attention to your discovery, but follow up with other earned media approaches for maximum benefit.

2) Earned Media Placements

Acquiring earned media placements through targeted pitches is the natural follow-up to a press release.

In 2016, two independent teams of researchers used different techniques to visualize the architecture of the inner ring of the nuclear pore. Nuclear pore complexes play a role in gene expression, and previous research has observed that they are altered in cancerous cells.

These researchers did put out a press release, which was picked up by Science Daily. However, by pitching outlets on the importance of the story, they were also able to secure a featured story on the December cover of The Scientist (and were covered by C&EN as well).

These kinds of earned media placements raise the profile of the research and the scientists involved, and can highlight the role of your company’s service or technology in achieving that research.

Just as with press releases, news of a discovery can be made more interesting when discussed in relation to recent scientific and industry trends.

But often the best publications are the ones with strict guidelines on requests for coverage from companies and organizations. So, how can you get in front of an editorial team?

When pitching editors and journalists for earned media placements, put the research in context. Just as with press releases, news of a discovery can be made more interesting when discussed in relation to recent scientific and industry trends. Pitching a story, as opposed to the bare facts of a discovery or blatant promotion of your company, increases the likelihood that a journalist will take your pitch and run with it.

3) Interviews and Media Training

Naturally, the scientists behind these discoveries have a great deal of valuable knowledge. Securing interviews with publications and coordinating presentations at tradeshows and other events can further raise the profile of new research—and those involved.

Especially in academia, scientists will not always have the connections necessary to make these kinds of interviews possible. Facilitating such connections can benefit all parties—publications get exclusive stories, scientists get exposure for their research, and you get exposure for your company or institute.

Similarly, many scientists have limited contact with the media, and have never received media training. Providing media training can help scientists use the appropriate amount of jargon to present the most compelling message to a specific target audience, aid them in mentioning your organization where allowable (rather than your competitors) and prepare responses to especially challenging questions.

Presentations at tradeshows have the unique ability to engage highly specific audiences as well. Providing simple media and presentation training can ensure that your message, and the research, are communicated as clearly as possible.

Marketing Scientific Discoveries

As with any other campaign, you should rely on more than just one set of tactics to achieve success. Different tactics are useful for different goals, but the fundamentals of marketing to a scientific audience remain the same. Be sure to spread your message through multiple channels.

Especially if your equipment is involved in a discovery, using other marketing channels to highlight scientific research can close the loop, allowing your audience to concretely connect passing mentions of your equipment to your company.

For instance, the same discoveries at the center of public relations campaigns can serve as key points in sales collateral or advertising. When your equipment is used for a notable discovery, that information can be included in your copy as an illustrative and highly authoritative case study or white paper.

Here is more reading on each of those topics:

Leveraging new research can also strengthen your content marketing efforts and build trust among the scientific audience. Even if your company was not involved in a research project itself, commenting on developments and providing your thoughts on implications and future directions can help position you as a leader in your field.

As web searches for new discoveries begin to spike, you may have an opportunity to rank for key terms, as well. Quick keyword research and optimization allows you to use your inside knowledge to rank at the top of search engine results pages early on. Earned media from your public relations efforts can serve this purpose as well, especially when publication websites have high domain authority.

Marketing scientific discoveries is an effective method of raising the profile of your company and the discovery alike. By using public relations, in tandem with other techniques, to acquire earned media and contribute to industry conversations, you can draw attention to your company and grow your business.

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