media update’s Nakedi Phala shares some insight on how science can benefit and achieve greater PR results. The beauty of science is that it improves the lives of civil society at large, building on developments that could improve government, businesses and organisations. 

Although the roles played by those in the science field carry valuable insight, the question is: How valuable is data research if the public can’t interpret or fully understand how it impacts them? Well, that’s where the role of PR comes in — to interpret the scientific jargon. 

Here is a scenario: You aren’t feeling well, so you visit the doctor. They diagnose you with an illness that you can’t even pronounce. So you try Google, but you come across more confusing information, posted by unreliable sources. Your last resort is reading through the information insert of your medication but it still doesn’t make sense … Quite hectic, right? But imagine if all of that was simplified into layman’s terms? Absolute bliss! 

Let’s dive into the 'why': 

1. PR strategies are perfect for documenting science data 

PR pros are trained to be immaculate at research and what better way to efficiently document in-depth research than by giving it to the experts to do just that? 

They are great at understanding project information, such as who’s who and what role everyone plays in the team. For example, if a PR pro is assigned by brand ‘X’ to gather and organise the information that its geologists have discovered, this would give the geologists more time to focus on the data gathering itself and not have to worry about explaining their findings later on. Instead, there would be a highly skilled spokesperson sharing the information on their behalf in ways and terms that would be understood by the public at large. 

Essentially, involving a communications team in the research process can achieve great results for stakeholders, businesses and organisations involved. It also allows each entity to focus on their own specialities and interests, and get the most success out of each allocated task.

2. PR professionals are great data interpreters 

Be it statistical reports, medical reports, scientific data or jargons as mentioned earlier, PR practitioners have a knack of dissecting any sort of information and being able to simplify it for easy understanding. 

Here’s a classic example: the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) focuses on industrial, scientific and technological innovation. Its aim is to keep South Africa in the race of the fourth industrial revolution — among other things.

Since it has to keep the South African government and the public informed on a regular basis, it has opted for its own communication department that is headed by David Mandaha in media and Nolwazi Mabi in corporate communications. The duo keeps in constant communication with their teams to give a well-informed scope of information to the media and the public.

To make things even more convenient, its website has a multimedia, news, publications and events tab, which includes drop taps such as media, education and students. 

Such an informative website needs someone on the backend who understands the ins and outs of media and public affairs in such a way that they can explain it simply to others. Who better fits the job than a PR guru? 

3. PR pros play a critical role in managing reputations 

Whether it’s through a PR agency or a communications department in a company, a PR team plays a critical role in managing information and the organisational reputation.

Let’s consider the current Covid-19 strain on healthcare facilities, both state-owned and private-owned. They need a conducive strategy to effectively communicate announcements, meeting times, communication platforms and status updates. They are out there saving lives after all, so efficiency is key. 

Additionally, on an external communications level, all these structures are critical to keep everyone in the know on the number of Covid-19 cases. This data is of public interest and a communications team needs to stay in touch with relevant government departments and media houses in terms of what is happening at their respective health facility.  

4. PR pros understand media law

PR pros are usually well-spoken individuals and have great understanding of media law and ethics, as their role requires. They also know how to appropriately and effectively liaise with journalists. 

In some situations, doctors and nurses share personal pictures from healthcare facilities on their social media platforms, unaware that a patient appears in the background, complicating the legal implications. This could cause trouble for both the practitioner and the hospital.

In this case, this is because the rights of the patient have been infringed; the right to publish the image would have been needed before the image could have been published online. 

Now, the role that PR plays here could be to educate healthcare workers and human resources managers on these regulations and on what can be and cannot be documented. Having a PR professional that’s got your back in these sort of instances could prevent potential mishaps.

Acquiring the services of a PR can help the science community keep the image of this field honorable by communicating on their behalf — during the good times and in times of crisis situations. 

PR introduces communication strategies that can be utilised in almost every field. Which sector do you think needs PR the most? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Weshu... oratile ditaba tjarena akere na? Refe maikutlo agago. 

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