I have had the pleasure of working communications roles in several industries over the years. During this time, I’ve seen the rise of a dubious campaign metric commonly referred to as “Stop the Scroll” (or “Swipe”). This metric has conscientious roots. Online communications strategists have less than a second to grab a potential donor, stakeholder, or client’s attention. Good strategists have read Craig McClain’s paper, as a great visual will make your thumb quiver before scrolling on to a video of dogs doing literally anything. In this light, stop the scroll seems like a pretty good metric for individual post efficacy. Time is the currency of experience, after all.
Can we count the seconds people spend learning untrue facts as progress towards our campaign? Or change the campaign goals to justify a resource-heavy shit post?
Earth Day is April 22, which makes next month Earth
I’d like to invite you to participate in a Twitter
hashtag campaign for the entire month.
The purpose of this campaign is to bring some attention and praise to the
people who are doing great conservation work.
I’m calling the campaign #30EarthMonthHeroes.
Participation is easy. Starting on April 1, post a tweet about someone who you think is doing great work to protect the Earth or the Ocean, either someone you know or someone you would like to know. Say something nice, upload a photo, link to a story or a video, tag them, and use the hashtag #30EarthMonthHeroes.
Each subsequent day, thread one additional tweet about someone you admire. It’s important to thread your tweets, so that by the time you get to April 30, you will have one single long thread. If you thread them properly, throughout the month, as readers find your tweets they will be able to easily scroll up and down to find the people that you’ve been tweeting about. If this works the way I hope it will, even the people who find your tweets as late as April 30, will still be scrolling back to your tweets from April 1.
If all goes according to plan, we reach new audiences on a large scale and greatly impact the conversation about conservation, while building a twitter following for ourselves, as well as the people who we call out as Earth Month Heroes. Plus it’s nice to hear from your colleagues when you are doing a good job.
It’s really that simple.
This is meant to be voluntary and fun, and it’s a chance to say thanks to the people in our line of work who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place – so no pressure!
If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments
section and I will try to answer them.
If you are picking 30 people that inspire you, chances are one or more are not going to be on Twitter. Don’t let that stop you from recognizing them! If you can’t tag them, you could try adding a link to their website or to something they wrote.
Does my Ocean Month Hero need to be alive today?
Again, you should recognize whoever you want. I’ll be shocked if Rob Stewart and Ruth Gates don’t get a few mentions (I’m going to mention Rob, whose final film Sharkwater: Extinction comes out on Amazon Prime on April 22), and won’t be surprised if the likes of Henry David Thoreau or Rachel Carson pop up.
What if I need to miss a day? Or a week?
That’s fine. The idea is to post one Ocean Month Hero per day, but if you can’t post over the weekend, post three on Monday. And if you only get to 14 over the course of the month, those 14 people will still be happy to be recognized by you.
Social media can be a great tool for spreading and disseminating published science. Potentially it can reach a wide audience and for free !
Most platforms allow you to insert links to direct readers to the original paper or publication. If you are working in an area that is relevant to conservation or policy, social media can be a great way of getting papers to the right audience that may need that information (Parsons et al., 2014). Moreover, there is now increasing data that using social media can increase download and citation rates of scientific papers, which in turn is good for the careers of scientists in an academic setting.
Earlier this year, Andrew issued his Summer Science Outreach Challenge: Write an Op-Ed. Inspired, I thought I would straight up steal Andrew’s idea and give a few tips on writing an effective advocacy letter, the type of letter you’d send to a government official to ask them to help protect the ocean.
In my conservation career I’ve written hundreds of letters to all levels of government, from agency staff to presidents. Advocacy letters are one of the more effective tools in the arsenal of conservation tactics. They are a great way of communicating a message directly to a targeted person (assuming the letter gets read, of course!) and are a great way to kick off a discussion on protecting the ocean between concerned citizens and government officials. Here are a few tips: Read More
Figure from Whitenack et al. 2011, the sixgill tooth is the one in the lower right! This paper studied teeth of different shapes using Finite Element Analysis (FEA). When Lisa inputs the shape of the tooth, how elastic the tooth is, and how much force the tooth experiences into her computer program, FEA will map out stress on the entire tooth. High points of stress are where a tooth would be likely to break.
Learn more about the bluntnose sixgill shark and it’s unusual shaped teeth below!
If you’ve been following along with our weekly round-up of ocean news, the Monday Morning Salvage (and, if not, why aren’t you reading the Monday Morning Salvage? It’s your one stop shop for the latest and greatest in ocean science and conservation news!) you probably noticed that we called for scientists and conservation professionals to write OpEds or Letters to the Editor this May. We heard from several folks that they submitted articles, though we haven’t heard back that any have been published yet (please leave a link in the comments if yours have). So, we’re extending the challenge and asking science and conservation professionals to take a stand for something you care about and submit a letter or article to your local paper.
Why? A recent study with a large sample size, published this year, demonstrated that OpEds can play a significant in shaping people’s opinions about political and social issues. Though this CATO Institute funded study has a distinctively libertarian slant in the issues they chose to use as treatments, the results are reasonably compelling. Not only did OpEds influence how readers felt about an issue, but regardless of political group, exposure to an OpEd made the reader more likely to agree with the author’s position.
“We find limited evidence of treatment effect heterogeneity by party identification: Democrats, Republicans, and independents all appear to move in the predicted direction by similar magnitudes… Despite large differences in demographics and initial political beliefs, we find that op-eds were persuasive to both the mass public and elites, but marginally more persuasive among the mass public.”
This is part of the new regular column on science communication. To suggest a topic, email [email protected].
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re in middle school. The spring formal is approaching and if you don’t have a date, you will literally die ohmygod. Your goal is “find someone to go to the dance with me”. You can’t just walk into the cafeteria and scream “SOMEONE GO TO THE DANCE WITH ME”. (I mean, you can, but…) You need to be tactical. You need to have a specific audience in mind.
A poorly defined audience (or one that is overly broad) is the root cause of the vast majority of issues I run into when I’m working with someone on their science outreach. From “I don’t know where to start” to “I can’t get anyone to listen/subscribe/come to my talk/donate,” my first question is always going to be “who is your audience?”. My next question is going to be “okay, now can you narrow that down”?. The temptation is always going to be to have the broadest audience possible. If you aren’t appealing to EVERYONE you might miss out on potential opportunities! You could turn away a potential audience! You could miss out on the chance to be the most beloved science communicator that ever communicated! Read More
I have a fundamentally tactical approach to science communication, which occasionally puts me at odds with more conventional practices. Some of the most common pieces of advice in scicomm tend to be the least effective for accurately and precisely communicating your message to a target audience.
Jargon is beautiful. Jargon is powerful. Not only are jargon words often more precise than their generic equivalent, but jargon acts as a form of shorthand. It tells your intended audience “hey, friend, this article/film/tweet/podcast is for you”. Outreach in all forms is always targeted towards a specific audience. Using jargon well helps define that audience and helps that audience connect to your piece. Smart use of jargon can make a good piece of outreach into a tactical piece of outreach.
Which is not to say that you shouldn’t think about jargon use at all. Understanding how different words are used in different contexts and how technical language can alienate non-specialist audiences is essential to producing high-quality outreach. But the general advice that we should all just avoid jargon the least effective approach possible.
OceansOnline focuses on using online tools for marine science and conservation, including advocacy, public education, research, and collaboration! Anyone is welcome, including scientists, conservation advocates, educators, natural resource managers, journalists, and communicators. OceansOnline content is suitable for beginners or professionals.
Some papers will be new and cutting edge, while others will be classics. They’ll all have one thing in common: a member of the Dulvy lab thought that they had an interesting or important result that significantly contributed to our various areas of expertise. Whenever possible, we will share a link to an open access copy of the paper so everyone can read along.
After we summarize the key takeaways from each paper, we’ll take questions. We’ll also start a discussion about that specific paper and the discipline that it is a part of, including suggesting various experts you can follow on twitter.
We hope that you’ll follow along with us, and that you’ll learn some interesting and important things about elasmobranch research and management!