What tactics can effective science communicators use to reach a wide audience and achieve their goals?
Effective science communication – the type that can drive behavior change while boosting the likelihood that people will turn to science when faced with challenges – is not simply a matter of utilizing social media or employing innovative tactics like nudges. Even more important for success is building long-term strategic paths to achieve well-articulated goals. Smart science communicators also want to create communication opportunities to improve their own thinking and behavior.
In this guide, John C. Besley and Anthony Dudo encapsulate their practical expertise in 11 evidence-based principles of strategic science communication. Among other things, science communicators, they argue, should strive to seem competent, warm, honest, and willing to listen. Their work should also convey a desire to make the world a better place. Highlighting time-tested methods for building rapport with an audience through several modes of communication, Besley and Dudo explain how to achieve each strategic objective. All scientific communication is goal-oriented, and Besley and Dudo discuss the importance of recognizing the right goals, then employing strategic and tactical communication in order to achieve them. Finally, they offer specific suggestions for how practitioners can evaluate the effectiveness of their communications (and in fact, build evaluation into their plans from the beginning).
Strategic Science Communication is the first book to use social science to help scientists and professional science communicators become more evidence-based. Besley and Dudo draw on insightful research into the science of science communication to provide readers with an opportunity to think more deeply about how to make communication choices. This book is essential reading for all professionals in the field.
Chapter 1.What It Means to Be a Strategic Science Communicator
Chapter 2. Science Knowledge as a Communication Objective
Chapter 3. Show Warmth
Chapter 4. Show Integrity
Chapter 5. Be Willing to Listen
Chapter 6. Show You Are Not That Different (and Respect Others' Differences)
Chapter 7. Show Competence
Chapter 8. Share Risks and Benefits
Chapter 9. Share What Other People Think Is Normal
Chapter 10. Foster Self-Efficacy
Chapter 11. Share Emotions and Frames, Carefully
Chapter 12. The Need to Take Communication More Seriously
A. Survey Methods
B. Supplementary Tables
C. Examining Goals and Objectives Worksheets
John C. Besley (East Lansing, MI) is the Ellis N. Brandt Professor of Public Relations at Michigan State University. He has authored more than a hundred articles, chapters, and reports on public opinion about science and scientists' views about communication.
Anthony Dudo (Austin, TX) is an associate professor in the School of Public Relations & Advertising at the University of Texas, Austin, where he is the program director of science communication at the Center for Media Engagement.
"In Strategic Science Communication: A Guide to Setting the Right Objectives for More Effective Public Engagement, authors John Besley and Anthony Dudomake a much-needed link between the practice of and training in science communication, and the research that impacts those activities. Throughout the book, the authors balance actionable information for practitioners and the theoretical literatures underpinning them-and they do so admirably. Both of the book's intended audiences, practitioners and researchers, can glean informative insight from its pages."
– Journal of Science Communication
"This book, written by the two top experts in the field, makes both the historical and current information on the conceptual and applied aspects of strategic science communication easily accessible. It is an excellent and much-needed resource for the community of researchers and practitioners in science communication. I can think of no other researchers who are better connected to the broader science communication community than Drs. Besley and Dudo."
– Nalini M. Nadkarni, University of Utah
"A comprehensive, pragmatic book covering science, environment, health, and risk communication. Science communication is a rapidly expanding field, with a desperate need for guidance from the social science world. Besley and Dudo, who have run a research program focused on strategic communication for many years now, are the right authors to offer that guidance."
– Bruce V. Lewenstein, Cornell University
"Strategic Science Communication fills a very large gap in our collective discourse around how science and scientists can engage with society and make a difference in the world. The focus on strategy is absolutely essential for the field of science communication to have the impact we hope for. Scientists looking to 'level up' their science communication skills will find this book incredibly useful."
– Amanda Stanley, Executive Director, COMPASS