It is not without reason that the Federal Minister of Education, Anja Karliczek, called last year for scientists to think about communicating their research project, methods and results from the very beginning. However, the focus is not only on communication within the scientific community, but in particular also on target group-oriented communication in the direction of practice and the general public. For this reason, science communication has become an integral part of federal announcements made by her ministry. Dissertations are also research projects and companies have long been part of the project consortium so that a direct transfer of the results into practice can take place. So we are all affected by this. The only question is, how can we implement the ministry’s demand? That’s why, in the new article in the DieZehn editorial series, we cast a spotlight on communication and provide tips on how it can work successfully.

1. change of perspective

The corona pandemic is turning us logisticians, computer scientists, mechanical engineers and economists into members of the general public. Until recently, I doubt anyone understood what “R-value” was or mouthed the word “aerosol.” Corona affects us all and we would like to understand what it is all about. However, in doing so, we do not want to graduate with a degree in virology within a short period of time. Now consider this. Your research also affects many people and could add enormous value. That’s why research is done to optimize processes, save time, help people and gain new insights. But if no one understands what you’re doing, you’re unlikely to succeed.

2. the teaser does it

“The number of infected people is rising sharply.” Let’s not kid ourselves, in our news app we scroll through the headlines and then we are updated. Only when we have time and are interested do we click for more information. Once you communicate with the world out there, it becomes necessary to get to the heart of the results and intentions. This is where many scientists get stuck. Because one to three key statements, do not represent the complexity of the research. Technical terms and graphics that are difficult to grasp (cf. R-value) are used. In the fast-moving times of today, however, hardly any citizen or entrepreneur has time to read through dozens of pages of a scientific publication. Rather, one has a headline or a tweet and these must arouse interest. One line or 280 Unicode characters minus all the hashtags and links. Yes, some of the complexity is lost there, but in return you have reached many people and created understanding. If interest is aroused, the news will be read and those who want to know more will also look at your paper.

3. worlds that collide

If you want to communicate successfully, you will come into contact with the media or even in-house press officers. Now worlds collide. Science is looking for results and this is an iterative process consisting of discussions. Journalism is supposed to report true, of course, but it has to be topical. It needs headlines for high readership and attention. The world out there wants to be informed. Scientists feel pressured and media representatives thwarted. Mutual understanding and compromise can help. Everyone should state their expectations clearly.

4. plan communication and develop strategy

Be aware of who your target groups are and how, i.e. through which communication channels, you want to reach them. Research projects usually include a milestone plan. With it, you can determine communication occasions early on and plan communication measures. Corona required an abrupt rethink and put the focus on digital/online communication. Once the basic framework is in place, a changeover is quick.

5. communication channels

Press relations, website, social media, email newsletters, …There are a variety of channels you can target to reach different audiences. If you decide to use a channel, be aware of the effort behind it and what formats are appropriate. For example, a post on social media is unattractive without a picture or video, and a link to further information is required. So behind a supposedly short tweet is a lot of effort and this must be provided several times a week so that you serve the channel fairly and keep your followers.

6. Crossmedial

To get the most out of your communication, you should plan communication cross-medially. A piece of content should be prepared conformally for each relevant target group and specifically for the respective communication channels, and then everything goes out at the same time. That’s how you get the most attention.

7. the 7 W-questions and classical press work

Who did what, when, where, how and why? And where does the information come from? These answers belong in every professional press text, preferably right at the beginning. From top to bottom, the information is sorted according to its information content. Then you need a press distribution list, a suitable press photo and the media are informed. If necessary, you will receive requests for further articles, interviews or statements in response. Fortunately, there are public relations officers at every research institution, who are then also linked to the Science Information Service (IdW). It is only important that you inform these responsible persons about your results. Internal communication is necessary so that external communication can take place.

8. social media

#WeStayHome #Corona #homeoffice – passed you by? The pandemic has sparked entire trends on the social web. From shared digital sports, to home office insights and video conferencing, digital surveys and the online seminar success story, anyone who wasn’t on social media disappeared from the scene. Social media speaks a completely different language than classic press relations. On Twitter, Linked-In and Co. you get direct feedback and interaction with readers is expected. Respond quickly, reply, like, retweet, because tomorrow the next post will follow and then it will be too late for reactions. Content must be compactly available in a few words and a continuous sifting of trends is required. Followers are critical and want to be permanently supplied with new and interesting information.

9. Events

Scientific conferences are well known. They follow fixed rules and people know each other in the scientific community. However, the Ministry now proposes science slams, open readings for citizens or guided tours. You all know the feeling when grocery shopping in times of Corona. Shopping cart yes or no? Do I need to disinfect it? Is a shopping basket enough? Do I have to stand in front of the box at the checkout or in the box? Why isn’t the person next to me wearing a mask? Has something changed in the rules again? Citizens standing in front of a research facility have a similar experience. They are interested, but wonder how and what exactly they have to do. Where is the entrance? Do I have to register? Can I take photos? Simple and clear communication helps decisively here. Put up signposts and welcome the participants. In addition, the content should of course be prepared in line with the target group. So it’s not a matter of repeating the presentation from the last conference, but of presenting the most important findings in a clear way.

10. tell stories

There is a reason why the so-called hidden champions have been propagated for several years, why Uber and Amazon are mentioned again and again in the context of digital transformation, and why everyone knows how Post-its were invented. It’s the story that makes it. Wondering how to vividly communicate your results while staying in the minds of your audience for the long haul? Tell a story. So-called storytelling is an established concept in communication and is closely related to science communication. What problems did you face? Why did you take up the research project? Where do you want to go and who do you want to help? Motivations and personal experiences make a story worth telling, and good stories like to be retold.


Not so easy. There is a lot of work behind successful communication. But since communication is firmly linked to every research project and also makes a significant contribution to the success of a research proposal, you can’t avoid the topic. Your educational background and experience have made you an expert in your field. Likewise, there are subject matter experts in communication. Our suggestion: join forces, develop an understanding of each other’s situation, and plan together. True to the motto: Do good and talk about it.