20160901-IUCN1-600x298.jpg

A Cornell-trained team of early-career researchers and professionals from 15 countries joined 10,000 delegates at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in early September 

Cornell-Trained Media Team Expands IUCN’s Reach

October 6, 2016

20160901-IUCN1-600x298.jpg

A Cornell-trained team of early-career researchers and professionals from 15 countries joined 10,000 delegates at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in early September, increasing the impact of the global sustainability event through social media. With support from the Atkinson Center, Lauren Chambliss and I worked last summer with The Nature Conservancy’s former director for science communication, Bob Lalasz, to form the 22-person media team.

IUCN2-300x220.jpgTeam member Melissa Price asks Jane Goodall a question during a media briefing on September 3.

The Congress, held every four years, was in the United States for the first time, thanks in large part to the director of Cornell Plantations, Christopher Dunn, who helped put in the successful bid for Honolulu, Hawaii. This year’s 10-day Congress brought together conservation leaders and global decision makers to seek solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Members of the Congress voted on 85 motions that included conservation of animal species on land and in the oceans, protection of sacred lands, improvement of community-based resource management, and the termination of domestic markets for the trade of ivory.

The Atkinson-trained media team covering the 1,300 Congress events included attorneys, journalists, science officers, researchers, producers, PhD students, artists, and communication specialists. Members of the team participated in a web-based seminar in August and an in-person training on science communication and methods for increasing social media effectiveness in Honolulu at the start of the Congress.

IUCN3-300x220.jpgCornell team members meet with junior members of the media from the University of Hawaii and Nature for All.

Analytics by Cornell’s chief new media officer Vitaliy Darovskikh following #IUCNteam show that the team sent well over 500 posts, with a reach of around 700,000 and more than 1,000,000 impressions. One of the most active team members sent more than 150 tweets during the Congress, with 170,000 impressions, 3,710 profile visits, and 102 mentions. At one point, it was rumored that the social media coverage of the Congress was so effective that the event was ranking #20 on Twitter—ahead of Kim Kardashian.

Team members expanded not only coverage of the Congress, but also their own communication networks during the event as they interacted with one another and members of media teams formed by IUCN, Nature for All, and the University of Hawaii. Team members also gained access to media briefings with high-level IUCN members, including Jane Goodall and Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Team members helped cover a Knowledge Café organized and led by Atkinson Center faculty director of environment Alex Travis. The panel session sought solutions for strengthening academia’s role in conservation and included representatives from Cornell, the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, and the University of Hawaii. The Café drew a large, engaged crowd and included examples of successful collaborations between academics and NGOs and other organizations.

The Atkinson Center media outreach serves as a model for environmental conferences of this scale. Members of our team described the experience as "incredible," as well as challenging. We hope that the success of this team will help stimulate similar communication training in the future.

 

Carrie Young is a Department of Communication PhD candidate, focusing on environmental, health, and science communication.

Save

Save