We work on the full range of communication projects – from writing, editing and producing magazines and websites, to strategic reviews, research and policy advice. Below are some projects we have worked on recently.
If you would like more information on any of these projects, do get in touch melaniesmallman (at) think-lab.co.uk
Building public confidence in science and crisis management: Defra
In the aftermath of BSE and the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, Think-Lab was contracted by Defra to work with their Chief Scientific Adviser, to help rebuild public trust in Defra’s use of science.
First we persuaded the client that this was more than a communication job. Then, working as part of Defra’s science change programme that aimed to improve how science was handled in the department, Think-Lab developed and implemented a communications strategy that aimed to change the media backdrop against which Defra crises took place, to improve the way in which crises were dealt with and to communicate those changes more widely. This involved the full range of communication activities, including supporting the team responding to two bird flu outbreaks, producing regular media briefings, articles and a science magazine, developing a programme of media appearances for the CSA and writing speeches and briefings for Government Ministers.
During 2009, Defra’s use of science was reviewed by the Government Office of Science and commented as the ‘gold standard’ in government. PR week also included a feature on how we had turned around science communication in Defra.
Communications Review: Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM)
With many significant changes within the NHS in the pipeline that were set to have dramatic effects on IPEM and its members, we worked with them to review their communications and membership activities, leaving them ready to rise to whatever the next few years has in store.
We are regularly asked to give communications training to scientists – including our ‘Creative Science Writing’ and ‘Communicating Science to Policymakers’ courses, which have proved incredibly popular for clients including Defra and GO-Science. Melanie also regularly teaches at UCL and City University. Contact us for more details.
Copy writing and publications: Elements Magazine
Elements is a magazine about science and sustainability that we developed and produced quarterly for Defra from 2005-2010. We think it proves that you don’t need policy-speak to talk about policy-relevant science.
Research: Communicating Science to Policymakers
The UK’s Environment Agency, as part of a European SKEP network, were interested in finding out more about the factors that influenced whether or not particular areas of scientific research fed into policymaking. Working with parners at LTSL in Edinburgh and IVL in Stockholm, Think-Lab helped develop and analyse a series of case studies that tested current academic thinking in the area and identified a series of lessons for scientists and policymakers alike. Download the report here.
Research: Involving the media in public dialogue
One of the challenges of public engagement activities to date has been publicising the events to a wider audience – to increase participation and to disseminate the findings further. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is difficult to engage the mass media – even when the dialogues were likely to generate controversy.
Think-Lab conducted research for ScienceWise-ERC, asking whether this view is right and whether we can be more effective in working with journalists, through a review of media coverage of public dialogue and interviews with journalists and science communicators.
Public Dialogue: Small Talk
Small Talk was a project that Think-Lab managed, which aimed to give coherence to a range of activities around the UK focused on discussing nanotechnologies with the public and scientists. By developing an innovative set of ‘postcards’ we were able to use a common feedback mechanism to record the views on nanotechnology of more than 1000 members of the public.
The findings of the project have fed into policymaking in Defra and BIS and we have been invited to present the results to audiences across Europe, including the OECD.