On January 7th Doc Kokol, a communications
specialist and Director of the Office of Strategic Initiatives, visited FWRI to
give a presentation and training day on the ins-and-out of working with the
media. Here are a few of the highlights:
words are not always better. In a media interview, most
of your audience does not have a PhD in biology, like you may have, so you must
adjust your language accordingly. Don’t speak to the reporter like they’re uneducated,
but also don’t give a high-level explanation with lots of technical jargon.
Remember, you’re not dumbing down your subject matter – you’re putting it into
layman’s terms. A true expert can explain complex aspects of their field to a
and practice. If you’re an expert in your field, you
can probably anticipate a lot of the questions a reporter is going to ask you
ahead of time. Write them down and practice in front of a mirror, or even
better, on camera. Pay special attention to the questions you don’t want to be asked, because you’ll
probably be asked them.
words is all you have. Doc highlighted a study where
researchers looked at hundreds of interviews and determined that the
interviewee had only 27 words, 9 seconds and three messages before the
interviewer started cutting them off or paraphrasing what you said, raising the
chances of getting something wrong. Try to pre-prepare a statement that is
succinct, but fully answers the question.
don’t know what you don’t know. Never try and answer a
question you don’t know the answer to – it could get you into serious trouble.
Simply give the reason why you don’t know or can’t answer and tell them you can
follow up or connect them with someone who can give the answer. Remember: “No,
but…” Always follow your “no” with a “but” of what information you can give them. “Unfortunately, I can’t
answer that, but what I can tell you is…” This technique can also help you
guide the conversation away from controversial topics.
in doubt, ask the Communications Office. It’s what we’re here
This past August, we received word that FWC had won several awards from the Association of Conservation Information (ACI). The most popular and successful of the ACI programs is the annual awards contest, which “recognizes excellence and promotes craft improvement through competition.” These annual awards are held nationwide every year. Professionals from the public and private sector evaluate all entries and offer written, constructive critiques.
FWRI’s Communications Department received first place for “MarineQuest Logo” in the Graphics: Advertising/Display category!
Other FWC winners include:
Third place for “Reel in and Recycle!” in the “One-time Publication: Brochure” category.
Third place for “Northern Bobwhite Quail Sightings Webpage” in the “Success on a Shoestring” category.
Second place for “FLOW: The Chipola River Story” in the “Video Long” category.
Third place for “FWRI Monthly Highlights” in the “External Newsletter” category.
Second place for “Big Leap Forward for Florida Panther Conservation” in the “Conservation Post of the Year” category.
First place for “FloridaNatureTrackers.com” in the “Website” category.
First place for “Coyote-Pet Safety Infographic Poster” in the “Poster” category.
In lieu of new research into bonefish or manatees or trichodesmium, I was given the opportunity to introduce myself in this quarter’s Communication Corner. In an effort to keep things comfortable and concise I’ll be interviewing myself:
What’s your name and position?
My name is Jonathan Veach, although I go by Jonny, and work in the Communications Department as an Information Specialist.
What do you like to do?
My favorite hobbies are hiking, backpacking and paddling. An ideal Saturday is grabbing a lox bagel from St. Pete Bagel Company, heading over to Weedon Island, hiking the trails, and paddling the mangrove trails in my canoe. I’m looking forward to finding some time to make it down to the Everglades for an overnight paddling trip. Best backpacking trip I’ve done was a week-long trek around Shoshone Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. I love cooking and gardening, and started getting into orchids after moving to Florida.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from downstate Illinois. Before I moved to Florida I lived in Mississippi for four years where I attended grad school at the University of Mississippi for an MFA in Creative Writing.
Two cats: Ouija and Luna
Who do you admire most and why?
Probably John Muir. The relentless energy he put towards preserving natural lands makes him larger than life, the ecstatic holy-man of the mountains. I love the (probably fictional) story of Muir getting picked up by a cab in San Francisco on arriving in the city for the first time, “Where do you want to go?” the cab driver asked, “Anywhere that’s wild,” was Muir’s response. Even though Muir’s writing is infused with the divine, he never loses a wry sense of humor: “The world, we are told, was made especially for man — a presumption not supported by all the facts.”
We receive some interesting calls and messages in the FWRI Communications Office. Sometimes inquiries require multiple experts’ input from a variety of agencies across the state. FWRI is the go-to for identifying unknown species, alive or dead, and on March 19 we received a photo from a news station in Jacksonville that stumped marine biologists and avid fishermen alike.
This ‘creature’ was sighted on the shore of Wolf Island, GA by a man and his son while out boating. Its long neck, small mouth, and distinct tail shape had experts stumped. The fresh-looking pink guts eluded to its authenticity. Biologists speculated it was a frilled shark, but it looked more like a dinosaur. Was this a well-done photoshop prank, or perhaps a movie prop?
Some said it looked identical to an Elasmosaurus – a genus of plesiosaur that lived in North America during the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous period (only about 80.5 million years ago). Layers of the story unfolded as others did more research. Someone stumbled on the Altamaha-ha: a legendary, mythical sea monster thought to inhabit the Altamaha River in Georgia. No one found physical evidence of the carcass, and the story was dismissed as a hoax.
Here are our top FIVE tips to remember when filming in the field:
Follow safety protocol. Wear your PFD while on a moving vessel. Wear close-toed shoes when in the lab, etc. One of the main reasons our office can’t use a video clip is if someone is not following these protocols while being filmed.
Wear an FWC shirt. We want people to identify you with FWC and this is an easy way of doing that, especially when we are working with other organizations who are heavily branded.
Don’t be afraid to ask to start over. The beauty of filming is that anything can be edited. Sometimes when someone screws up they have a tendency to get in their head. Take a minute and a breath, and simply try again.
Dress for the camera. Avoid wearing white because it reflects too much light. If possible, take off your sunglasses for an interview.Don’t wear any copyright or branded logos (ex. sports teams).
Assume the camera is always rolling. This especially applies when news outlets are involved. As a representative of FWC you don’t want to be caught in your own words.
Voyage into science at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at MarineQuest 2017!
Making nerdy cool since 1995, this free, family-friendly event features more than 60 exhibits from FWC and other conservation organizations. Visitors can explore and play throughout the indoor and outdoor activities, including touch tanks, face-painting, archery, and more.
Held in conjunction with the St. Petersburg Science Festival, MarineQuest visitors get an exclusive look into Florida’s latest fish and wildlife research.
This year’s event will feature a speaker series where guests can learn about manatee rescues, sharks, coyotes, and other interesting talks by FWC’s experts.
About the MarineQuest logo: Focus in on fish and wildlife research through the eyes of a scientist at MarineQuest. Microscopes help scientists see the big picture. From seagrasses to grasshopper sparrows, the 43 unique icons of plants and animals that make up this microscope image represent the Institute’s five research sections: Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration, Freshwater Fisheries Research, Information Science and Management, Marine Fisheries Research, and Wildlife Research.
Public records are delineated in Chapter 119 in the Florida Statutes and FWC is mandated to comply with these requests. If you should get a request for records and the information is readily available and will not take longer than 30 minutes to complete you may provide these records to the person requesting them. As long as these records do not contain information that needs to be redacted (proprietary, personal health information, social security numbers, etc.). If you are not sure if it contains information that needs to be redacted send it to Kelly Richmond and she can review it for you.
Kelly Richmond is your FWRI contact for public records requests. If a request is entered into our tracking system she is notified and will coordinate the request with you. However, many of you are contacted individually for data and information. We are required to acknowledge receipt of the request immediately but if it takes you longer than 30 minutes to complete the request then please let Kelly know and she can get everything entered into our tracking system. We are required to complete these requests in a reasonable time without unnecessary delay but different requests take varying times to complete.
Attached is the public records training PowerPoint. It will go over what is a public record and was it not a record. Please be sure to see the slide on what we are NOT required to do if we should receive a public records request.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requires all film producers to sign a contractual agreement before FWC staff complete interviews on camera for a private production. Please use the following information as a guide for any filming agreement.
What circumstances require an FWC filming contract? The agency requires a contract if a private, commercial entity is producing a non-news project in which FWC staff will be interviewed; some examples include documentaries (even if produced for a news network), TV series and student films. News stories for accredited news organizations would not require a contract. Working with another government agency or non-profit partner on a film project for their own use would not require a contract unless the piece will be used commercially and is produced by a commercial production company. Sometimes the nature of these requests is not immediately clear. When in doubt, contact your FWRI Communications staff or Community Relations Office to assist you.
How far in advance should a filming contract be in place? It can often take several weeks (depending upon different factors like the complexity of the contract) for a contract to be finalized and in place. Please plan for a minimum of one month from the time the request comes in until the day of filming to finalize a contract.
Who should I contact if a production company requests to film me?First, contact Michelle Kerr in the FWRI communications office. She will work with Katie Purcell, the Assistant Director of the Community Relations Office, who is the lead contact for coordinating filming contracts statewide. Together, we will discuss the request with you and leadership to determine if it’s something we are interested in and able to accommodate. Additionally, Katie and Michelle will pull in staff from other divisions if needed.
How is a decision made to pursue a proposed filming project? Factors considered are the production company’s past work, the message they intend to promote, what resources they need of the FWC, and their anticipated timeline. If the project is believed to be a good fit for the FWC, Katie will route a contract to be signed by both parties – the FWC and the production company.
Is the FWC involved in the editing or production? Our contract stipulates that we have the right to review all footage prior to distribution. Katie and Michelle will work with the staff member(s) interviewed as well as any appropriate subject matter experts or leadership to review the footage for accuracy, tone, etc.
In July 2016, we were awarded first place by the Association for Conservation Information (ACI) in the category of internal communications for the Field Notes newsletter. This was possible through the help of staff who contribute content for Field Notes every quarter. Please continue sending us your photos, videos and articles or invite us in the field with you so that we can continue to promote your research.
We had some changes within the Outreach family that include two new additions to our amazing team.
With the many transitions that have happened, we felt it was time to reintroduce the FWRI Communications and Outreach office so that we may better serve our fellow staff members.
Your Communications and Outreach Team:
Kelly Richmond Position Operations Management Consultant Ask me about
Communications strategy and management
Jessica Pernell Position Graphics Consultant Ask me about Graphic design; MarineQuest
Michelle Kerr Position
Public Information Specialist Ask me about
Media/public relations, photos, video production
Bradley Walker Position
Information Specialist/Social Media Coordinator Ask me about
Social media outreach; Video editing; Multimedia
Jessica Prakke Position
Communications Specialist Ask me about
Web Updates; Field Notes; Monthly Newsletters
Kim Rousseau Position
Outreach and Communications Specialist Ask me about
ANYTHING and I’ll find out for you!
MarineQuest is the FWRI’s annual open house that gives the public the chance to tour the FWRI building and learn more about our research, and it is quickly approaching. Currently, there are over 1,800 students and chaperones from 28 schools signed up for our School Daze program on October 20 and 21. We are open to the public Saturday, October 22.
Our staff is a large part of MarineQuest’s success and we need your help again this year to succeed. Be sure to sign up for your School Daze tour on Thursday and Friday, sign up for one of our volunteer opportunities with the Kids Zone, School Daze, parking, and more, share FWRI’s Social Media pages, and come by Outreach to grab posters and postcards to pass out. Don’t forget to bring your friends, family and neighbors to enjoy this day of fun.
This is FWRI’s time to shine and show the community who we are and what our research is about.
The internal newsletter of the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute