My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

AHRC Media Training Course

Sometime in May or so I received an e-mail from the Science and Heritage programme coordinator about Media Training to be organised by the AHRC in October. It was a long way away but I decided to sign up to it as soon as I received the e-mail. I was one of the luckily few to make it on the course (we were only 10 or so!) and so glad I did! The training was organised by Inside Edge, a media training company headed by Chris Jameson and Tony Prideaux. It started off with an introduction from Jake Gilmore, the AHRC Communications Manager, who from then on left it in the hands of Chris and Tony (sort of at least ;)).

During the rest of the day we first had the ‘theoretical’ part fo the course, where we discussed what makes a good story and how to make our research news into a story. I thought it would be the same old stuff of how to give presentations, but luckily it did what it set out to do – prepare you for communicating in the media giving concrete examples and tips.

The best part of all however probably came in the afternoon session. After having gone through the theoretical part we were split into two groups, one group with Tony and one with Chris, and each person was then interviewed in front of the others on the basis of a pre-course questionnaire we had all filled in prior to the course about our research. This made the interview go beyond the normal questions of describe your research and taking it from there, but also, the interview having been thought about beforehand by the interviewers, we got some questions which maybe we weren’t expecting. It was interesting to see how we all dealt with them! And best of all (or maybe worse :P)?…the interviews were recorded so after each interview it was then played-back so the person being interviewed could listen back on what had happened and the performance could be discussed.I think I did decently Ok in this, even though I did not quite come round to discussing what I am actually doing, but just replied to the questions being posed to me…only at the very end did I get round slightly to it.

However, best of all was that we all had a second try at this! Second time round all the group came together and the interviewers switched groups. This allowed us all to learn what the others are doing in their research as well as learn from their styles. These interviews were also recorded and after all the interviews were done we returned to our groups with the course directors switching groups. In this second (interview I think i did manage to get the point of my research across more than in the first interview. However, I did blab on a bit too much at points…and did not get to the point which the others enjoyed most in my first interview…namely that I am actually destroying photographs to learn more about them ;).

Well, all in all a successful day! I felt like I really learned something and actually having two tries at a media interview with people in the field in a non-confrontational environment was great! I didn’t expect to get as much out of it. The fact that we were a small group also definitely helped. I was quite neutral about it all before I attended, but now I feel like it is something that everyone should do…so glad I got the opportunity through the AHRC. Meeting other AHRC-sponsored students and hearing about their work was also great! They all sounded so coherent about their work that before my first try I got quite scared…but maybe I can be coherent about what i am doing when I put my mind to it! I just need to work on it :).

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