Press Release Guidelines
Information and Guidelines
the DPP Meeting Publicity Effort
The goal of the
DPP Meeting publicity effort is to encourage science journalists at
popular newspapers and magazines to write about plasma physics
topics for their audiences of laypersons. We believe the DPP Meeting
provides a tremendous opportunity to communicate the excitement and
importance of current plasma physics research results to the general
public. We hope that these efforts will foster heightened public
appreciation and support of plasma physics research.
Invitation and Format
If you believe
that your DPP Annual Meeting paper contains significant newsworthy
results that would be of interest to science journalists and their
reading audiences, we invite you to write an author summary suitable
for a nonscientist or typical newspaper reader. The following
detailed guidelines are intended to help you prepare the paper in
the best possible format for this audience.
summary should ideally be 500 words or less and include 1 or 2
visuals (preferably color) with captions to accompany your write-up.
The deadline for submissions is set annually by
the Public Information Committee and announced annually in a message
emailed to DPP members.
may be considered by emailing Saralyn Stewart, DPP Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please submit your
author summary as both a PDF file and a plain text file, the latter
in case the science writers would like to work with you to edit the
text. Submit to the Public Information Committee Chair, posted at:
the appointed committees public info section with a
copy to Saralyn Stewart (email@example.com).
You can see archived highlighted press releases by going here: http://www.aps.org/newsroom/vpr/index.cfm/. Click on the year and open the Virtual Press Room page.
An author summary
can describe a single paper at the meeting or several related
papers. A single speaker or several speakers can submit it.
lay-language paper, please devise a non-technical title, such as " A
Little Chaos May Go a Long Way in Future Fusion Energy Reactors".
Please do mention, however, the abstract code of the meeting paper
or papers, which your summary describes.
include a one-sentence summary for your paper, similar to the blurbs
written for APS's Physical Review Focus:
http://focus.aps.org. Please put
this sentence between the title and the main text.
For assistance in
writing a description of your paper for science journalists, don't
hesitate to contact a public information officer or science writer
at your institution. Such persons are trained to communicate to that
audience, and they are usually glad to help you provide a suitable
write-up for such an audience.
Please check out
some examples of previous author summaries (listed at the end of
this document) to get a feel for writing an author summary in the
If you have any
questions, please contact the Public Information Committee Chair,
the appointed committees public info section.
Writing for Science
Here is some
background on your target audience. Science journalists are
typically educated laypersons, rather than scientists. They
generally do not have specialized knowledge of plasma physics, but
can grasp physical concepts if given sufficient explanation of
concepts and terms. Please keep this in mind when writing your
In your write-up,
please omit technical details that may be relevant only to plasma
physics colleagues. Plenty of opportunities to communicate this
information will exist at the DPP Annual Meeting, but there are not
as many occasions in which to interest a science journalist in your
To write for this
audience of laypersons, it may be helpful to prepare your paper with
a non-scientist friend or family member in mind. Better yet, show
your author summary to a friend or family member (or your public
information officer). Encourage your reader to critique your
write-up and suggest changes that would make it as accessible as
possible to a general audience.
should center upon the latest news that you will report in your
paper. To justify writing a story on your work, journalists usually
need a "news peg," some new fact, development, or insight that was
not reported to mass audiences before the meeting. Please include
such a news peg if possible, and mention it at the beginning of your
Please include any
special distinctions or superlatives (e.g. fastest, smallest, the
first) associated with the work.
Please include any
necessary background information so that the journalist can
appreciate the significance of the results, as well as any potential
applications that can directly affect the general public.
explicitly if the presentation will be based on published papers, a
preprint, or new material not yet prepared in print. Please feel
free to mention references to the papers in your write-up;
journalists find such references very useful. Generally, journalists
get most excited to learn about new material not yet prepared in
print, so even if you have a few new details on previously published
research, be sure to include them!
background helps to place the work in context for the reporters.
(Example: "Supernovae have been observed for centuries, but it is
only in the last couple of decades that we have had the capability
to simulate them in the laboratory.")
expressions and undefined jargon. When using numbers, try to
describe their significance where appropriate (example: "Tabletop
accelerators now have a repetition rate of 10 Hz, corresponding to
10 electron bursts per second, compared to previous tabletop
acceleration rates of one burst per ten minutes."). Use technical
terms where necessary, but be sure to define or describe the term in
non-technical language the first time you use it [example: "Plasmas
contain randomly fluctuating electric fields ('electrostatic
turbulence') which are presently believed to play a major role in
optimal conditions in a plasma."]
motivations and ultimate goals of the research. Will it lead to new
devices or provide insight into a fundamental physics question?
(Examples: "Our dusty plasma provides a simple system for gaining
insights into the properties of solid and liquid matter at the
atomic scale"; "Our gyrotron design, which generates microwaves at
such ultra-high frequencies, might open new possibilities for
medical imaging and communications.")
- Make the text non-technical by using everyday language, analogies, etc.
- Use a concise, attractive title.
- Up front in the press release, state what is new and important and why a general reader should care about it.
- Make the press release fairly compressed (e.g., 2-3 paragraphs and a figure).
- Try to provide a (color) graphic with popular appeal.
- Provide hyper links to APS/DPP presentations.
The DPP General
all of the author summaries, the DPP Public Information Committee
and science writers will choose 4 to 7 author summary topics to
feature in a DPP General Press Release. They will choose the topics
based on the quality of the write-ups, the scientific quality of the
research, newsworthiness of the results, and their potential impact
upon the general public, and their collective ability to provide a
sample of the different areas of plasma physics research. For examples of previous DPP General Press Releases, please see: http://www.aps.org/newsroom/vpr/index.cfm/.