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Are you prepared for adverse media attention?

Most of us will shy away from the media. It’s not so much the startling headlines and sensational reporting that puts us off, but the fact we simply don’t understand how the media industry works, and whether we should work with it anyway. As bio-scientists and med tech innovators, how can we avoid our research into a potential cure or launch of a new medical devise becoming hijacked for that sensational headline? Could adverse news coverage damage our reputation and impact commercially; and if we do speak to the media, how might adverse publicity affect our insurance cover?

Written by Andrew Lowe on 20th November 2015

Most of us will shy away from the media. It’s not so much the startling headlines and sensational reporting that puts us off, but the fact we simply don’t understand how the media industry works, and whether we should work with it anyway. As bio-scientists and med tech innovators, how can we avoid our research into a potential cure or launch of a new medical devise becoming hijacked for that sensational headline? Could adverse news coverage damage our reputation and impact commercially; and if we do speak to the media, how might adverse publicity affect our insurance cover?

At Franklands we study the factors behind corporate risk and business continuity especially where that risk might be quite high. Whilst you can't insure against a damaged reputation, we suggest there are ways you can minimise risk by generating and taking out a Business Continuity Policy which states just what to do, why, and when, in a crisis so that you have a clear plan of action and keep your insurance cover intact. 

Just how good are you are at explaining your science; both technically and to a public audience under pressure? I should warn you that a reported word out of place could severely prejudice your cover.  That’s why it’s so important to involve us in anticipating possible crises, planning for them and informing us the minute something goes wrong.

So how can we successfully manage our contact with the media?

A recent One Nucleus Bio-Wednesday gathering in London provided an insight into the life of the busy pharmaceutical industry editor. The audience of scientists, analysts and public relations officers quizzed editors from the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Sunday Times, Informa and EP Vantage about how best to work with them to generate accurate news and feature coverage. The fact is that they need to report on science that is going to impact on society but they need knowledgeable scientists to be able to explain the science in layman’s terms.

I’m always encouraged by the number of science entrepreneurs I listen to around the UK at conferences, funding pitches and on the media who manage to convey accurately the way their science is improving people’s lives. If that’s you, I’d strongly recommend you make the most of your skill by registering with the Science Media Centre – essentially the independent press office for the UK scientific community. According to Tom Sheldon, the senior press manager who spoke at the One Nucleus evening, the Science Media Centre works to make reporting accurate and responsible, especially when a story has the potential for controversy. So the Centre needs media-savvy scientists and that could be you.

Good media relations are created through relationship-building. It’s as true for Franklands and our clients as it is for an editor and a business owner. Those virtues of trust, integrity and honesty are good travel companions to have as we negotiate the twists and turns in business. Should anything happen to de-rail that journey, having the appropriate insurance cover in place, as well as a contact at the Science Media Centre, will soon get you back on the road.

See other blogs related to: Lifescience

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