Top Tips for Dealing with the Press

Some things just get funnier and funnier. On Sunday, Ed Yong (who is not exactly a rocket scientist) put something up on Posterous recounting an exchange with a Press Information Officer. Ed had seen a press release, and wanted to write about the story. When he asked the Press Information Officer (PIO) for the scientist’s contact info, this is what he was told:

I think you have all you need for a blog.

From where things when downhill. Embargoes were involved, so Ivan Oransky posted a follow-up on his Embargo Watch blog, in which he named and shamed the PIO as Aeron Haworth, of the University of Manchester. Haworth turned up in the comments, at which point hilarity ensued. Seriously, read through the comments thread: there’s so much comedy gold from Mr. Haworth, like this:

I will be letting every UK press officer know about his [Ed Yong’s] antics and he is unlikely to get cooperation from this side of the Atlantic in future. It’s a shame, as the UK produces some of the best science in the world.

and this:

Ed deserved what he got. A jumped-up arrogant journalist wannabe. I stand my ground.

and this:

‘Real journalists’ on the ‘cutting edge’. And you’re training would be?

which was followed by this from Damian:

bites knuckle

Much laughter all round.
Well, this morning I checked my email, and found a message from the Royal Statistical Society, send on behalf of Sense About Science. Sense About Science are holding a Standing up for Science media workshop the March 11th, and Manchester University. Hmm, I thought. That’s where Mr. Haworth works. I wonder….
And yes, this is part of the flyer (pdf):
Wow. Top tips if you come face to face with a journalist. Will it include “insult them, and then threaten to excommunicate them from science communications”? Or how about “don’t worry – your press officer will make sure you never have to communicate with them”?

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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8 Responses to Top Tips for Dealing with the Press

  1. Mark Brewer says:

    I vote we have a whip-round and get Ed Yong to attend!

  2. Bob O'Hara says:

    You’re an evil man, Mark. I’ll pitch in £2, though.

  3. Heather Etchevers says:

    OMG I would totally contribute to a send-Ed-to-England fund. Especially if it included some SD memory cards for the person holding the hand-held camera.

  4. Bob O'Hara says:

    Ed’s being sensible about this, and has declined the invitation. But it struck me walking back from lunch that the workshop really should have a component discussing social media and science communication. You can see where that thought went, can’t you?
    )BTW, Ed works in England, so it would be more of a "send Ed to the Grim bit of England. By which I mean both Northern and the wrong side of the Pennines)

  5. Mike Fowler says:

    Ben Goldacre has just suggested that the avatar known as ‘Aeron Haworth’ on the comments thread is actually the Man U sweeper Poe PIO.
    This is somehow staggering. If I were to jump on an online message board and behave in that way using my real name, I would understand why my employers would want to carefully consider my future. And I’m a lowly scientist, not a lofty media relations professional.

  6. Michael Meadon says:

     That is just wonderful. Maybe fly Bora out. He could give Aeron some schoolin’…

  7. GrrlScientist says:

    sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

  8. S.C. Kavassalis says:

    God, I’d love to see Bora at this…

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