NORA Outreach Group

Question and Answer session with Dr. Ian McLeod

Following the presentation by Ian McLeod and Simon Branigan, Ian kindly fielded the following questions from participants.

Q. You recommended measuring your progress in outreach. In your experience, what the best way to measure outreach effectiveness?

A. Online media (google, twitter websites) allow you to record hits, views etc. through their own analytics tools. In the past I relied on these, but I have come to prefer face-to-face feedback; for example with the relevant stakeholders and funders. Asking them directly about their experiences and impressions can provide you with the information you need.

Q It was mentioned that scientific publications can be a useful outreach tool. How does a lay-person achieve a scientific publication?

A. If you have an interesting question or a dataset there are two primary recommendations to preparing them for submission to journal publications. Firstly, consider partnering with university researchers or students to support in data analysis and drafting of the manuscript. Secondly, consider which journals might be appropriate and look into the kind of work they have published before and what was required. There are some journals which are specifically designed as “gateway” journals, which are more accessible to practitioners, e.g. Restoration Ecology and Conservation Science and Practice. 

Q. Do you have any advice about how to handle acknowledgements for multiple funders in communicating with the Media?

A. This is a challenge. Where you have many funders you may want to discuss this with them upfront before media engagement. Wearing clothing with logos is also an efficient way of getting the funding information across. I prefer a strategy of managing fewer funders for longer term, that way trust develops with regards to recognition in media engagement, even where it is not possible on all occasions. 

Q. Simon mentioned that with regards to outreach Quality is better than Quantity. Does this also hold true for social media such as twitter?

A. I recommend starting at a pace you can maintain. Develop a SMART goal, such as posting once a week/month, or whatever suits your project. Try to avoid starting with a lot, building expectation and then not being able to maintain it.

Q. What was your most popular post so far?

A. The most watched post from my media company was footage of silhouettes in an aquarium which fit really well to music. My own most watched footage was a promotional video for small town in Northern Queensland. The community was really active and it went locally viral. In oyster restoration our most successful post was a video showing how quickly oysters filter water from a tank.