Science Communication & Measurement – PARI 2017 workshop notes

I am these days in Garching, near Munchen, the home of the European Southern Observatory (an absolutely stunning and inspiring place) and the host of the PARI 2017 Workshop on Public Awareness of Research Infrastructures. This is an event dedicated to science communication (as I understand it) where scientists turned communicators and communicators with a passion for science meet to exchange notes, inspire each other and moan (occasionally) about their shared challenges (though it is not about scientists “not getting” it or the public being uninterested but rather about communicating effectively on a multitude of channels with limited resources…so more of the general moaning that can be seen in other industries and practitioner areas).

The duty bestowed upon me as the opening keynote was to bring attention again on communication measurement and the importance on including it in the planning from the very early stages. I mentioned as usual the work and frameworks of AMEC and DPRG, which both acknowledge the importance of the resources available (input) and make a different between outputs (or activities) and outcomes and impact (as in the effects of the communication activities on the target audience within the channels used and in relation to the organisational strategy).

Frameworks, I will continue to argue, are good as guidance and so they are just the starting point into approaching differently how one goes about their strategy. (I am always open to discussing how these can apply to specific organisations!) I also emphasised the measurement goes beyond individual channels and individual campaigns.

I do agree that there are many constraints in doing this (from lack of resources to lack of knowledge) but it is worth aiming to improve practice. To make that case (of improvement) I used CERN’s example whose staff members (some) were in the room and have very gracefully accepted the criticism (and praise) I made…Thank you @CERN team!

That being said, I am looking forward to a series of exciting presentations from a world I am fascinated by and get to work with only from once in a while.


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