The Press Author: Ricki Lewis


They have many titles-public information officer (PIO), communications director, media liaison. These behind-the-scenes professionals link scientists to the public by presenting research results to journalists. Working at universities, companies, medical centers, and government agencies, PIOs write press releases and fact sheets, and spend many hours connecting interviewers to interviewees.

At times, some reporters may also find PIOs obtrusive. But while their role and methods have been the subject of controversy, media members-as well as many scientists-find them essential. "My take on PIOs-whether you love them or hate them, a writer really needs them," says H. Garrett DeYoung, a freelance science journalist who has held editorial positions at High Technology, Photonics Spectra, and Electronic Business magazines.

Scientists, at times, really need PIOs, especially when those in the media perceive a research result as a "breakthrough." This was the case when Jeffrey...

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