Parallel Session 8: Communicating Communications
Wednesday 10 April 14:15 - 16:00
This paper will explore the ways in which professional research communicators sitting within research institutes and universities contribute to the science-media ecosystem. Drawing on the public relations and science communication literature, this paper explores the existing research examining the roles of professionals such as press officers in both mediated and unmediated public communication and uses this to present a framework through which these roles can be explored. The paper reflects on changes in the media landscape that allow institutions to reach publics directly, bypassing media-based gatekeepers. It considers the rise of institutional public relations and considers how these 'new' players in science communication serve the interests of the scientific community. The framework forms the basis for research within the RETHINK project (Horizon 2020; CE-17-2029). This paper will specifically focus on the contribution of institutional communicators (as opposed to scientists or journalists) in the digital media ecosystem. The Rethink project aims to develop a role typology for new science communicators (including institutional communicators, but also other contributors including journalists), including new roles and innovative practices among actors required to break down barriers and engender trust within communities where this is lacking.