Do your academics have an important story to share about their research? Can they tell their story in a concise and compelling way? Our senior editors show how it’s done.
The Conversation’s Pitching and Writing Masterclass reveals the common mistakes academics make when sharing their research with non-academic audiences - including the media, industry, politicians and the public.
Fewer than 50% of people typically read beyond the first few sentences of an online article or journal abstract. We show how to keep time-poor readers interested, using short, sharp, jargon-free writing.
Masterclass participants develop a story “pitch” for a target media or industry publisher of their choice (with guidance from our editors), draft a headline and the first two paragraphs of a story, and - as a bonus, since a well-written article very often leads to follow-up media coverage - learn a few key tricks to make the most of any radio and broadcast interview.
Highlights of the class include gaining access to:
- strategic advice from experienced editors
- professional and peer feedback on your work
- a checklist to follow before starting a new pitch for a media or industry publisher.
Who can attend a masterclass?
Each standard masterclass is limited to 10 participants, to ensure everyone gets time for personal feedback. And it can be adapted to suit all levels of experience: we’ve trained everyone from Pro Vice-Chancellors to early career researchers and PhD candidates.
Our masterclass is not just limited to giving advice on pitching to The Conversation. Instead, it’s about sharing our editors’ experience from working across the news media about why so many research stories fail to attract any public interest - even when there’s a good story to tell.
Time-saving expert advice
Sharing research well beyond academia is now a requirement of many research grants - and for good reason, because if research is publicly funded, it’s only right that the public benefits from that knowledge.
But for busy researchers, it can be difficult to know where to start, and what to do - or when their research is interesting enough to a broader non-academic audience to try to attract public attention.
This masterclass is designed to help save time and wasted energy. We share our checklist of what to consider before even ‘pitching’ a story to a media outlet like The Conversation, ABC News, a major newspaper or others. We spend time showing how to adapt content and language to suit different audiences, in different outlets and media. And we help participants sharpen their storytelling skills - so people want to hear more.
Experienced editors you can trust
The senior editors who lead our masterclass program have decades of real-world experience, not just with The Conversation but also other national and international media outlets including the ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Reuters and Nature.
Our editors work with academics every day, so we understand the pressures of trying to produce rigorous research - then somehow finding time for public engagement.
That’s why we created this masterclass, which we designed by request from our higher education and research partners.
Sharing stories with millions of readers is what we do best
The Conversation is a not-for-profit publisher of expert research analysis. We commission evidence-based content from academics and researchers, then edit it in collaboration with authors to reach a large global audience.
The Conversation’s Australia & New Zealand edition alone has a growing monthly audience of 7.7 million unique readers on site, and 16.3 million article views on site and via republication (September 2020).
Even though we publish stories by academics, we help our authors reach a diverse readership; 85% of our readers are non-academics, including 13% working in government or policy roles.
“Outstanding workshop. I really appreciated the clear and direct descriptions of how to structure a news piece versus an academic article. I appreciated getting direct feedback from editors in the breakout groups. It was very helpful! Honestly, one of the most useful workshops I have ever attended.” Dr Kelly Bertolaccini, Lecturer of Transport Engineering in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment, member of the Cities Research Institute, Griffith University
“The direct feedback we received on our own work was super useful. The homework aspect is also great as it pushes you to really make the effort to improve your writing skills. Breakout sessions were excellent and provided the opportunity to get direct feedback from multiple perspectives (other students + editor) and ask lots of questions. I was already very keen to pitch an article but this course has equipped me with invaluable skills for more effectively pitching in the future. In fact, I plan to resubmit a pitch I submitted just last week as a result of knowledge I gained from the course! Thanks very much.” Natasha Gardiner, studying towards a PhD in Antarctic Studies, University of Canterbury
“The workshop explained precisely what The Conversation is looking for from contributors; how to write a pitch; how to structure a story; how to ‘write’ a story for a lay audience (as opposed to an academic journal). There were some great case studies and the individual coaching for academic participants was balanced and well done. This was incredibly valuable for me as a Communications and Marketing professional at a university. I will be able to guide our academics/researchers more effectively. The course was very well structured and I sincerely appreciate your guidance. Outstanding.” - Melissa Branagh, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Research Partnerships Team, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University
Where do we offer masterclasses?
Masterclasses are delivered via two, 2-hour interactive Zoom sessions over two days, with online and offline writing assignments. Two editors are on hand to provide feedback.
What does it cost?
$490 + GST per person. We limit standard sessions to 10 participants, so editors have time to give individual feedback.