Emergency Information Take Over

How New SOM Research Communications Network Can Help You Promote Your Research

Thursday, April 03, 2014

 Christopher Hardwick

Everyone at the School of Medicine (SOM) has a role in the Dean’s Accelerating Innovation and Discovery in Medicine (ACCEL-Med) initiative, especially the Office of Public Affairs and Communication (OPAC). Just as the faculty is working diligently to increase the pace of their research, OPAC is working to expand its capacity to share these incredible, groundbreaking science stories. Raising public awareness of the work ongoing at the SOM is no small task, and, similar to the cross-cutting research on campus, requires collaboration and teamwork. Drawing from the existing group of communications liaisons, who faithfully send information to SOMnews and The Buzz on a regular basis, OPAC has refreshed its pool of contacts in each department, center, institute, and program to create a new “Research Communications Network,” known better as the RCN (or the Rockin’ group).

The kickoff meeting of the RCN group was held on February 25, 2014. Representatives from each SOM academic unit, assigned to the group by their chair or director, were charged with keeping OPAC informed of new publications, speaking engagements, op-eds, or media appearances that members of their respective department, center, institute or program are doing.

Christopher Hardwick, MA, Assistant Dean for Public Affairs, offered up examples of research publications that have transitioned into national news headlines, impressing upon the RCN group the importance of informing OPAC of everything and anything. In addition to submitting story ideas to SOMnews and items for The Buzz, attendees were encouraged to ask faculty for updates and tap into existing research meetings as sources of information.

“We’re just as excited about your research as you are, but we can’t spread the word about it unless you tell us what’s happening,” said Public Relations Manager Caelie Haines, MS.

Ideally, Hardwick and Haines hope the RCN group can send information before it goes public. Longer lead times will allow OPAC to more fully develop a research story beyond simply a press release—possibly producing a short video, creating a social media package, or even pitching ideas to the national media. The RCN was reminded that “sharing a paper that has been accepted for publication with OPAC does not in any way break a journal embargo,” said Hardwick. “We work closely with the journals, so if we know in advance about a study being published, we have a greater opportunity to collaborate on getting media coverage.”

The newly formed liaison group is now over 40 members strong. A complete list of RCN contacts can be found at the end of this month’s What’s the Buzz? Although faculty should not hesitate to contact OPAC directly if they know that something important is about to happen, keeping both the RCN rep and the OPAC in the loop will ensure the whole communications team is informed.

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