Lucie Felder

There’s a misperception that scientists are bad communicators. People say we’re too in the weeds—too “wonky”—or that we present information and data in ways that are not easily digestible or accessible to the general public. And with science literacy capabilities in the U.S. being drastically low, it’s not surprising that people perpetuate this stereotype. However, as a Biology major now working in the field of strategic communications, I would argue that there’s quite a lot that communicators can learn from scientists. Here at Reservoir, we’re putting scientific methods into practice every day.

  1. Put the Facts First

The best argument has a strong evidence base, and you won’t get very far if you don’t have the proof points to back it up. Communicators need to take a page out of the scientific playbook: gather citations, build on the findings of existing research and collect the key data points that will resonate with your audience.

  1. Sell the Problem You’re Trying to Solve

We don’t always think about the significant amount of time and energy that scientists expend applying for research grants. It may not be obvious, but in many ways, those applications are pitches. Scientists must identify a gap in the existing research about a particular subject and make the case to funders that it’s worth filling in. We see this all the time in strategic communications—from press outreach to new business ventures.

  1. Sail in Uncharted Waters

It’s not always enough for scientists to identify the information gaps. They need to come up with creative approaches to solve for what they’re looking for and be comfortable with not knowing what lies on the other side. At Reservoir, we think differently about communications and help our clients solve previously intractable problems. That work always begins with a strategic, creative approach.

  1. Leverage External Validators

In the world of scientific research, there are peer-review processes in place, statistical methods to utilize and other objective measures available to validate results and findings. Likewise, in strategic communications, it’s often not enough to carry your own message. It’s important to identify and engage third-party voices that can provide additional context and credibility to strengthen your own argument. It’s not just about honing in on the right message—it’s about identifying the right person to deliver that message. 

Here at Reservoir, we’ve got a team full of science majors. In fact, nearly half of our staff has an academic background in biology, public health or healthcare policy analysis. You could say we’ve got strategic communications down to a science.