Communicating Science in a Crisis: It’s Not Just What You Say but Who Says It That Matters

By October 13, 2020October 26th, 2020News Posts

communicating scienceGetting to know your audience is the foundation of effective science communication, says 2020 CAST Communications Award winner Dr. Alexa Lamm, of the University of Georgia. The message is just as important but scientists often get it wrong, using too much jargon and statistics and not enough visual cues.

She shares the findings from research on how to drive acceptance of complex issues such as:

Saving an Industry from Citrus Greening

Working with a USDA-funded team, Dr. Lamm was tasked with helping scientists identify the best way to communicate the science behind saving the citrus industry from one of the world’s most serious diseases. In-depth market research revealed that focusing too much on the science was leading to low public acceptance of the treatments being developed. Instead, consumers were eager to hear about the safety of the fruit produced by the science.

Driving Adoption of Water Management Best Practice in Florida

Dr. Lamm was commissioned by the Florida Farm Bureau to find the most effective way to garner additional purchasing support from consumers for farmers adopting new water management practices. The intention: to encourage other farmers to join the initiative. By testing the effectiveness of the same video message delivered by different sources, the team discovered that people were significantly more likely to trust farmers to deliver the message. Public perceptions were higher when information was shared either by famers or university scientists (rather than an environmental charity or regulator from a water management district).

For more detail on these findings and practical advice on effectively communicating science in a crisis, tune in to Dr. Lamm’s presentation.

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