The objectives of the Biosciences Communications team are to:
- Promote the Berkeley Lab Biosciences Area’s identity as a leading scientific institution paving the way to groundbreaking discoveries and innovative solutions to address complex scientific and societal challenges, in the fields of energy, environment, health, and engineering biological systems for sustainable manufacturing.
- Communicate the Area’s scientific discoveries and innovations, emphasizing their relevance and impact for external and internal audiences.
- Monitor relevant Biosciences initiatives, themes, and news (not exclusive to the Area) and share externally and internally.
- Create communications synergies within Berkeley Lab and with external partners.
- Raise the profile of Biosciences to aid in the recruitment of diverse talent.
The Biosciences Communications team consists of Lida Gifford, Lead Communications Coordinator; Greta Lorge, Science Writer (part-time); Irina Silva, Communications Manager, Joint BioEnergy Institute, and communications contact for the Emery Station Operations Center; and Massie Ballon, Public Affairs Specialist, and David Gilbert, Senior Manager of Communications & Outreach, Joint Genome Institute.
The Biosciences Communications Council, a standing committee of communications professionals and Biosciences personnel, has been established to support the development and maintenance of consistent messaging within the Area and to determine strategy. The Council members are: Massie Ballon, Katy Christiansen, Lida Gifford, David Gilbert, Nikki Humphreys, Greta Lorge, and Irina Silva from the Biosciences Area; Strategic Communications’ Dan Krotz and a communications representative from another Area (to be determined).
With the approval of the Biosciences ExComm, the Biosciences Communications team has assembled this set of guidelines to inform the Area’s staff about how they can collaborate with us to accomplish the aforementioned objectives.
Media Promotion Requests
If you have an achievement, such as an award or recognition from a professional society, or a paper that is influential in its field, please give the Biosciences Communications team as much advance notice as possible. If it is a forthcoming paper, ideally you should contact our team once it has been accepted for publication.
Email email@example.com and provide the following:
- One paragraph of 3-5 sentences that explains in lay terms why this story deserves attention. Note that providing only a paper’s abstract is not sufficient. An explanatory paragraph is required in order for our team to understand the paper’s themes, significance to a broad audience, and emphasis. Please reflect on:
- Why is this paper/achievement important?
- What is the impact?
- How does it help our mission?
- Did you find anything surprising or enlightening in the course of this work?
- What is it that we can do now that we couldn’t do before as a result of this?
- The date associated with the achievement or when the paper will be released (if unknown, please provide an estimated time frame).
Once this information has been provided, the Biosciences Communications team will determine the best vehicle to promote your news. Some possible vehicles are:
- Press release
- These cover groundbreaking science. Incremental achievements may be covered as a science short or Biosciences news article and will appear in Today at Berkeley Lab (TABL). Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications makes the determination of whether or not something will be a press release.
- Press releases are typically written by a science writer in Strategic Communications.
- They are long articles (~800-1,000 words) that require approval by DOE. It takes a minimum of 48 hours to obtain approval.
- Strategic Communications disseminates press releases via EurekAlert and and Newswise.
- Press releases are also published on the Berkeley Lab News Center website, announced in Today at Berkeley Lab (TABL), and summarized in a paragraph on the Biosciences news webpage that links to the press release.
- Example press release
- Science short
- These are written by Strategic Communications writers or the Biosciences Communications team with input from the PI or assigned scientist.
- They are typically ~500 words.
- They do not routinely require DOE approval, but will be if they will be issued as a press release.
- They are published on the Berkeley Lab News Center, announced in TABL, and posted in full on the Biosciences news webpage.
- Example science short
- Biosciences news article
- These are written by the Biosciences Communications team with support of the PI or assigned scientist.
- They are typically ~300-500 words.
- They do not require DOE approval.
- They are posted on the Biosciences news webpage and announced in TABL.
- Example Biosciences news article
- TABL item
- These are short announcements (50-70 words; 430 characters max) written by the Biosciences Communications team that provide a link to a paragraph about your research on the Biosciences news webpage.
- Items are published on the TABL and Biosciences websites, and the headlines are distributed in a daily email to all Lab personnel.
- Example TABL item
Promotion of Stories and Biosciences-Related News
All press releases, science shorts, Biosciences news articles, and TABL items are disseminated via the Biosciences Twitter account @LBNLBioSci.
Should you wish to contribute content, such as Biosciences or “lab life”-related news articles, photos, or videos, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: All social media outreach at the Lab should adhere to the social media guidelines set by Strategic Communications.
In addition to scientific news, @LBNLBioSci covers themes such as scientific anniversaries, celebrations (e.g., Earth Day, Women’s History Month, Lab Science Day, etc.), conferences, human interest news, lab life, jobs, outreach, and diversity. If you would like to contribute content or alert our team, email email@example.com.
Check out our social media campaigns here.
Twitter Ambassador Program
If you would like to support us on social media, we invite you to become a Biosciences Twitter Ambassador. Our ambassadors amplify the Biosciences news. When an important news release is published, an email is sent to the Ambassadors requesting them to re-tweet the @LBNLBioSci tweets, or to compose their own tweets. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to become an Ambassador.
Live Social Media
In collaboration with Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications, the Biosciences Communications team will periodically organize live social media events such as Twitter chats, AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) and Facebook live sessions. If you have suggestions for content, email email@example.com.
The Biosciences Communications team is the first point of contact for media relations. Should you be contacted by the media, please consult with the Biosciences Communications team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before engaging in a conversation with a journalist.
If, during a conference, you spoke with a journalist who showed interest in your research, please let us know and we will follow up.
If you have been contacted by a reporter inquiring about matters related to public policy, please contact email@example.com to go over the proper protocols, covered in DOE’s scientific integrity document issued in January. Briefly, when expressing opinions on policy matters to the public and media, personnel must make it clear that they are expressing personal views, rather than those of the Department, the U.S. Government, or their respective institutions. Anything further must be coordinated between Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications and DOE headquarters prior to the response.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you discover out-of-date information, a broken link, or other problem on the website that requires attention. If you, as an individual researcher, would like a website for your lab or program, contact Biosciences Communications and provide the desired URL (http://yoururl.lbl.gov) and name of the person who will administer the page. The communications team cannot provide content or IT support for this page.
The BioSci Communiqué, a monthly internal Biosciences newsletter, is sent out on the first Wednesday of each month. Please send your contributions for consideration to email@example.com no later than noon on the Monday before the Communiqué is released.
In the event of a crisis the Biosciences Communications team will coordinate its communications with Berkeley Lab Strategic Communications. If an emergency affects Berkeley Lab and/or the surrounding communities, communications from Berkeley Lab are carefully controlled via the Emergency Operations Center. This prevents confusion and misleading information. Refrain from releasing information on emergencies via your social networks.