Session: Sharing Research Results with the Larger Public: Dealing Effectively with the Mass Media (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

63 Sharing Research Results with the Larger Public: Dealing Effectively with the Mass Media

Friday, January 18, 2019: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Golden Gate 5, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Social Work Practice (SWP)
Elena Delavega, PhD, MSW, University of Memphis, Susan Elswick, EdD, LCSW, LSSW, University of Memphis and Melissa Hirschi, PhD, University of Memphis
With the advent of 'fake news' and inaccurate reporting of research results, engaging effectively with the mass media has acquired great importance for social work researchers and scholars (Delavega, Lennon-Dearing, Neely-Barnes, Soifer, & Crawford, 2017). Social work researchers must disseminate their research findings in lay terminology in mass communication media such as blogs; television and radio interviews and broadcasts; and newspaper and magazine articles in addition to peer-reviewed journals. Oftentimes, however, research findings are only published in a way that is obtuse and difficult to understand (Klein, 2014). Peer-reviewed publications are essential to rigorous research, but if scholars do not share research results with the media, they may be marginalized and excluded from political and social discourse (Kristof, 2014). If the goal of research is to disseminate findings and inform practice and the public, peer-reviewed publications in restricted access journals are just the beginning. Effective use of mass media outlets is an excellent tool in changing social perceptions and achieving change (Rohlinger & Brown, 2013). In addition to peer-reviewed publications, when academics actively use mass media to communicate their findings, the public is very receptive to information gained through rigorous research (Sugimoto & Thelwall, 2013). Yet, social work scholars have often failed to take advantage of opportunities to use media. In this respect, social work lags behind other disciplines, and as a result, other disciplines are shaping the public's views of the common person and social problems (Kristof, 2014). If social work is to be effective in its mission to promote social justice and human rights, social workers have to effectively communicate research findings through accessible outlets.

This workshop teaches key strategies such as reaching out to the media and establishing contact; developing relationships with key media partners; writing press releases and releasing data reports; the development of talking points; creating a sense of urgency; bringing media to events; looking one's best and other important elements in reaching out, crafting the message to communicate facts. This workshop will also focus on the pitfalls of engagement with the mass media. These include such truths as there is no such thing as off-the-record. The presentation will address missed opportunities, in-promptu media interviews, and the danger of lack of preparation. Other pitfalls include the use of jargon; being pushed aside for a larger story; questions to which there is no good answer or that are designed to make the researcher look bad; and responding to a crisis. This workshop will also cover emerging media and social media and how to utilize such media effectively. The presenters will stress that while social media has captured the attention of the world, there is evidence that traditional news outlets continue to be important, even among young people (Fox, 2014).

The lead author of this workshop has given over 70 media interviews over the past 5 years, including to such outlets as Fox 13 News, Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and a live interview with Al Jazeera in Doha.

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