MRC devotes more resource to engagement

The Medical Research Council has said it will bolster its media engagement and strategic communication activities in order to run longer-term campaigns and build relationships with a wider range of scientists and journalists.

MRC has published its Communication and Engagement Strategy for 2014-19, which is intended to underpin open discussion and debate between MRC-funded scientists and the public, on 27 November.

In the strategy, the council says that its communications section will do a variety of things to help the public understand MRC-funded science and its impact on their lives. Measures will include: identifying “strategically important” research publications early; building and training a team of MRC spokespeople; and providing advice and coaching to researchers before they engage with the media.

In turn, researchers will be asked to log their public engagement activities in Researchfish and to flag any potentially newsworthy research papers to the MRC press office.

The strategy has three overarching aims: to support MRC-funded science, for example by making the case for continued funding for medical research; to strengthen the MRC’s partnerships, including with charities and other funders; and to increase the pace of improvements in health and economic growth, for example by sharing the outcomes of MRC-funded research among a wide audience.

The MRC says that it will focus its communication efforts on the areas in which they can have the greatest impact, for example supporting its investments in informatics.

Another specific action outlined in the strategy is a plan to open up the MRC’s communication channels to organisations in academia, charity, industry and government in order to extend its reach. The MRC will allow such organisations to publish some of their content using its channels, and will also seek to publish some of its content via external channels.

In addition, the council says it will deliver a programme of activity that will aim to increase support for medical research through dialogue with politicians and industry, and will provide support for scientists looking to engage with parliamentarians, civil servants and policymakers.

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