Written by Energy Council of Canada Energy Policy Fellows Bronwyn Lazowski and Stephanie Whitney
As two women scholars in the early stages of our academic careers, we were thrilled to take part in a Research Communication Workshop on February 26, 2018. This full-day workshop included a half-day of training on op-ed writing and a half-day of training on media interviews. The event was organized by the Women In Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) group, using funds from an NSERC Connection Grant, and run by Informed Opinions.
Energy, behavior, decisions: these are just 3 of dozens of important subjects that are significantly underrepresented in the Canadian mainstream media when women’s voices are missing as subject matter experts in newspaper articles and broadcasts. A new study, commissioned by Informed Opinions, reviewed over 1,400 articles and broadcast segments from seven Canadian newspapers and media outlets from October to December 2015, and found that men accounted for 71% of experts quoted or interviewed for newspaper articles and broadcast segments.
As our research focuses on the nexus of these subjects – Bronwyn researches smart grid technologies in the residential context, and Stephanie examines energy management decision-making in the commercial sector – we were keen to equip ourselves with knowledge and tools about how to promote our research findings to a broader, non-academic audience.
Here are five things we learned about each writing op-eds and preparing for media interviews. We hope that these tips are useful for our female and male colleagues alike.
- Write your thesis statement
- Identify at least 3 supporting pieces of evidence
- Anticipate and concisely refute an expected counter-argument
- Identify a hook that links your issue to the news
- Pique curiosity with your opening sentence
Media Interview Skills
- Take opportunities to build relationships with media outlets that cover topics that you are interested in and can add value to with your opinion
- If contacted for an interview, find out what the news story is about and what the interview entails
- Pay close attention to what the reporter thinks he/she needs, and determine how your expertise can add value to the news story
- Practice delivering your key messages in short sound bites, using simple terms and vivid examples or analogies
- Learn to bridge away from irrelevant questions or statements that you don’t support
We both left the workshop feeling motivated, encouraged, and empowered to actively participate in local, provincial, and national conversations about energy, behaviour, and decision-making by policy-makers and other key stakeholders in this space. If/when our research is showcased in the media, WISE will make this information available to its membership.
Learn more about WISER on their website: https://wseresearch.com/