OR/14/019 Summary

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Mitchell, C J, Nice, S E, Stevenson, J P, Thomas, J E, Nash, G V and Noakes, L. 2014. Broadcasting the science stories of BGS. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/14/058.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a world leading geological survey that focuses on public-good science for government, and research to understand earth and environmental processes. Prior to November 2006, the communications culture of the BGS had been largely driven by reaction to news events and managing media requests as they emerged. Since 2007, when greater emphasis was placed on more proactive communications, the public profile of the BGS was successfully raised. In 2014, the BGS released its new science strategy, Gateway to the Earth: Science for the next decade[1]. This has the vision of BGS becoming a global geological survey with a focus on new technologies, responsible use of natural resources, management of environmental change and resilience to environment hazards. This has informed the development of a new communications strategy for the BGS, which is outlined in these articles.

The main audiences for BGS science and technology are the public, government and other decision makers, industry and private business, academia, BGS staff and the wider NERC community and the media. Communication with these audiences is largely through the broadcast media and the internet, with additional communication through the print media, and the public engagement activities of the BGS.

The UK Governments communications plan for 2014–15[2] has as its vision ‘exceptional communications’, and the Government’s Digital Strategy aims to put more data into the public domain. The key messages in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills policy paper ‘Engaging the public in science and engineering’ are that new audiences need to be targeted outside those already interested in science and that engagement needs to be ‘where people naturally congregate, rather than expecting them to come to us’. The communication trends that have influenced the development of the new BGS communications strategy have included: mobile went mainstream; transparency and trust; social media; science stories; image is everything; and, analytics and evidence. The new communication vision is to Establish the British Geological Survey as a global authority for geoscience. The over-arching aim is to create the maximum impact for BGS science and technology by communication with the world through the media, web and public engagement. BGS will make use of traditional, new and emerging communication channels to communicate its research with the following overarching themes:

  • broadcasting — broadcast the science of the BGS
  • science — demonstrate the impact of BGS science
  • stories — tell the geoscience stories of the BGS.

The following are the key communication objectives:

  • make BGS the ‘go to’ organisation for geoscience news events in the UK and globally
  • use broadcast quality video to communicate the research of the BGS
  • use infographics to illustrate the impact of BGS research
  • engage a wider audience by telling the science stories of the BGS
  • create a website that is the first port of call for geoscience information
  • create a positive reputation and strong brand image for the BGS using social media
  • create a novel digital publication channel to publish the research of the BGS
  • actively work to promote geoscience as a career choice and to explain BGS research
  • create a more successful research community in BGS by effective internal communication (both one-way and two-way).

References

  1. BRITISH GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. 2014. Gateway to the Earth. (Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Survey.) Available from https://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=2895
  2. GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATION NETWORK. 2014. Government Communications Plan 2014/ 15. Available from: https://gcn.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Government-Communications- Plan_201415_webSmll.pdf