#onsci: 12th July – Selling science: what’s the product?

Heather: A few weeks ago, the online science world arguably saw a spectacular marketing fail with the launch of the European Commission ‘Science, it’s a girl thing’ campaign with a now-infamous YouTube clip by the same name. The clip went viral, and generated an explosion of critiques and comments. Mike Seyfang was just one of many commentators: his storify collation provides a good summary of global responses.

In this month’s #onsci chat we’d like to explore the issue of how science is ‘sold’.

I recall learning about marketing in my Graduate Diploma in Sciences Communication many years ago. Previously I had thought that people in marketing would be the first against the wall when the revolution came (to quote Douglas Adams). However, three key ideas have stuck with me that I have since applied when communicating science:

  1. Sell benefits, not features;
  2. Develop relationships with your customers; and
  3. Create a ‘pull’, not a ‘push’.

Sometimes the line between science communication and science marketing can be very fine indeed.

But what are we actually selling when we market science? Are we selling an idea? A system of criticial thinking? Medicines and gadgets? A career?

Do we need to have a united ‘brand science’ to promote all of these things collectively? If so, what should that brand be?

Who are we marketing to when we sell science?

What are our values and messages?

How can we ensure that science and scientists are accurately represented?

What are we ulimately trying to achieve when we sell science?

Join us this Thursday 12th July at 9pm AEST (12pm BST, 7am EDT).


  1. http://pinboard.in/u:fang/t:%23onsci/ is a collection of web links that may be useful for tonight’s onsci twitter discussion – certainy for those joining us from #cs7020 communicating science course.

  2. And thanks to Heather Bray for summarising the discussion in Storify. It’s available here: http://storify.com/heatherbray6/selling-science-onsci-12-july-2012

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  1. […] 2012: Selling science: What’s the Product? Share this:MoreLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this. Filed Under: Events & community […]

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