Marketing Insights to Enhance Public Engagement with Science

Rebecca Davis, CEO of Ovington, is a marketing professional with a particular focus on the area of public engagement with science. Rebecca spoke at the February 3, 2016, session of the Public Engagement with Science at Societies (PES@S) working group.

With Rebecca’s marketing overview and then discussion guidance, the working group focused on these guiding principles and pro tips for public engagement:

  • Marketing is about markets.
    • Are there enough people who see the value of your information to give their time and attention to it?
    • Is the market sufficiently unified that one presentation of my information will work for it? (default answer: no)
  • Understand your audience. The process is iterative.
    • Adapt to audience interests and needs.
    • Identify target audiences. For PES, the (broad) target audiences may be institutions, other scientists, and the public.
  • Experiment with 3 options for audience targeting:
    • Market assessment: How is the market changing; how can I expand the market?
    • Market segmentation: How do we differentiate market sub-sets? Who gets our focus?
    • Market strategy: How best can we use limited resources? What can measure success?
  • Market or audience growth is a perennial goal.
    • Quality – Deepening existing relationships is a worthwhile form of growth.
    • Quantity – Keep reaching to that second tier of potential participants.
  • Create personas to hone growth strategies.
    • Prepare just 3-4 personas at first; experience will dictate updates.
    • Develop a “patient zero” model for each persona.
    • Build from quantitative data. Shape with qualitative input.
    • Create a word cloud of each one’s common questions, statements or buzz words.
  • Engage with detractors, too.
    • Provide quantitative information – with limited jargon or ‘talking down.’
    • Uncomplicated visuals and infographics really can help.
    • Acknowledge, define and address different voices and views.
    • Expect to convert a few naysayers. How can they become powerful for your cause?
    • Diligent naysayers require a communication strategy, a skill set which differs from marketing.
    • Have a simple, direct exit strategy.
    • In social media, take significant action only if the discussion jumps to a different media or highly influential voices pick it up.

See more about Rebecca Davis here.

The PES@S session was hosted by AAAS as part of their Center for Public Engagement program.
Significant input from Elana Kimbrell of AAAS was instrumental in creating this blog post.

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