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Published: 10 February 2017

Kelly-Marie at the communication strategy workshopCommOcean delegatesIn December 2016 MERP kindly funded my attendance to the 2nd International Marine Science Communication Conference in Bruges, Belgium. Named CommOcean, this gathering of science communication practitioners and scientists aims to provide a dynamic environment for discussions on marine science communication best-practice, innovation and support.

The two-day event welcomed approximately 180 delegates from across the globe and had a jam-packed agenda, with topics ranging from practical issues, such as copyright law and writing communication strategies, to deconstructing and evaluating large-scale campaigns, like Boaty McBoatFace. The Opening address was given by Vladimir Rybinin, the Executive Secretary of the International Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, and speakers included international broadcasters, world-renowned science communicators, high-level programme leaders and communication businesses. The conference was also a great (and rare) opportunity for marine science communicators to network, exchange ideas, promote outputs and trouble-shoot common challenges that are faced in the role.

Key messages relevant to MERP were:

  • Treat stakeholders (SH) as individuals and tailor interactions to their needs. Remember they do not have to give up their time.
  • Communications should be simple, clear, informative and allow the recipient to interpret within their own frame of reference.
  • Assess baseline knowledge, networks and relationships of target impact audience(s) to understand how best to achieve impact with that audience.
  • SHs pay attention to data more than literature.
  • Use ‘information multipliers’ wherever possible.
  • Key question to ask when engaging with SHs: who is the decision-maker and what is their motivation?
  • Research is showing that the number of tweets about a paper has a greater impact than a journal’s impact factor.


I would like to thank MERP for funding this extremely informative conference trip and I am looking forward to applying some new techniques in future MERP stakeholder engagement activities.



Related information

CommOcean 2016

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