Working with journalists, the media and public relations professionals
For very many people, the media is the main way in which they read, hear or see statistics reported and used. Many stories will have been identified and investigated by journalists directly. Still more will have been prompted by news releases and other public relations work. The Royal Statistical Society is working to help journalists and PR professionals gain the understanding and skills needed to work with statistical data.
Directory of expertise
The Royal Statistical Society directory of expertise sets out a non-exhaustive list of areas in which the Society can advise or comment.
Workshops for journalists and public relations professionals
These workshops use real media stories to explore statistical issues. They have also given tips on asking searching questions and how to avoid statistical pitfalls and fallacies. Presentations are given by leading statisticians with wide experience of working with the media.
surveys – are the conclusions reached really supported by the evidence?
pilot studies – how can you know if a piloted policy really has made a difference?
league tables – are the data any good? Is there really any news behind the figures?
sample sizes, randomisation, confidence intervals – what the technical language means
Awards for journalists
Through its awards for statistical excellence in journalism the Royal Statistical Society wishes to encourage excellence in journalists’ use of statistics to question, analyse and investigate the issues that affect society at large. It believes that journalistic excellence in statistics helps citizens to hold decision makers in all sectors to account – through accessible communication of complex information, highlighting of success, and exposure of important missing information.
Guidelines on using statistics in public relations and communications
Using statistics can help public relations professionals achieve important goals: whether raising awareness, informing decision making or influencing behaviour. Good and accurate use of statistics can help to establish credibility and to increase influence. Poor use of statistics can lead to loss of trust and reduced authority.
Working with the Market Research Society and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations the Royal Statistical Society developed a best practice guide on how to use statistics in communications and how to spot when they might want to obtain expert statistical advice.
Science training for non-expert journalists
This project aims to help non-specialist journalists understand the principles of science and the statistics that underpin scientific work. The project is hosted by the Royal Statistical Society working in collaboration with the Science Media Centre. It is grant-funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with additional funding provided by Research Councils UK.