How important is it to publicize science's message? Richard Grant explores the topic of public relations (PR) in science on his blog The Scientist on Nature Network (http://go.nature.com/R1f4Ol).
At a gathering of science bloggers in August, another blogger proposed that “science doesn't need PR, it's a waste of time and money”, recalls Grant, an information architect at Faculty of 1000 in London. But Grant points to two recent articles that support the opposite view. The first relates the fact that many people in the United States are choosing whether to get the H1N1 vaccination on the basis of emotions. The second incorrectly reports the results of a clinical trial that studied the effects of a daily dose of aspirin in combating a form of degenerative blindness. “In both cases, it's a failure of PR ... It's a matter of getting things right, and getting that information out there, to the public,” argues Grant. “PR is necessary. And it's hard; perhaps even harder than the science.”
The post includes a link to a video of the bloggers' gathering, where you can 'meet' many of your favourite Nature Network web writers.