by Ashley E.M. Miller
When we sit hunched over a keyboard or scribbling drafts in a notebook, we adhere to the adage, “write for your audience”. Usually, this audience is already interested in the topic. It’s why they pick up our articles, or click our links, or read our posters. Having people we know we can reliably reach is wildly validating, but sometimes we need to spread our message further afield. We want to cover new ground and engage people who may not be invested in our topic yet.
These people, according to Kathryn Fedy and Jodi Szimanski of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), are your ‘un-audience’. “You want them to be your audience, but you haven’t been able to make that connection yet,” says Kathryn. In Jodi and Kathryn’s professional development session ‘Reaching your un-audience: How to share your complex story with new markets’, you will learn tools to spread science outside of your typical audience group.
The Quantum Cats Video Game App is just one of the ways that IQC is attracting un-audiences through media-based 'access points.
Kathryn and Jodi are part of the Communications and Strategic Initiatives team from the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. They share IQC research successes to diverse audiences through various print and online media. The team also supports community outreach initiatives to spread IQC’s message with the broader community.
In ‘Reaching your un-audience’, Kathryn and Jodi will draw upon their experience and teach you how to break down complex science into engaging messages by using “access points” and appropriate “frames of reference”. “Access points” are common connections we can use as gateways to new information. An access point can be broad as a media type, like video games or classical music. Or it can be as specific as asking “Do you know who Steven Hawking is?” Your un-audience knows more than they think and tapping into that knowledge is key to piquing their interest.
Quantum Symphony: Music at the Frontier of Science, is a multimedia mash-up of art and science that explores how music works at nature's most fundamental level
While access points can get new audiences hooked, the appropriate “frame of reference” can reel them in and hold their attention. What is an appropriate frame of reference? It’s the take on a topic that addresses what your un-audience cares about. Whether it be economic viability, human health impact, or future technology, the frame of reference is the context that makes the science interesting to them.
By combining “access points” and “frames of reference,” you can craft the right targeted approach to reach your un-audience. The session will also cover strategic communication planning, implementation, execution, and evaluation. With such a range of tools to teach, this panel will benefit “anyone who is trying to find a way to break through the clutter and share their scientific concept or scientific message with a broader audience,” says Kathryn.
‘Reaching your un-audience: How to share your complex story with new markets” is part of the concurrent professional development sessions on Saturday, June 4th of the CSWA conference. It will run from 11:45 – 12:30 pm. In the meantime, you can find Jodi [https://twitter.com/jodisz] and Kathryn [https://twitter.com/kathrynfedy] on Twitter.
Dr. Ashley E. M. Miller (aka Dr. Ash) is a writer, an educator, and an eternally curious creature. Her interests are wide-ranging. She's fascinated by the sciences, passionate about the arts, and intrigued by where the two intersect. You can find her tweets at @Dctr_Ash, and she blogs at CrossedBranches.