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Media Savvy for Public Health

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Update: This course is now full. If you would like to go on a waitlist, please email

Do you want to gain media skills and confidence? This hands-on workshop led by experts from the Science Media Centre, and guest speakers Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles and Laura O’Connell Rapira is for public health practitioners and researchers who want to engage more effectively with the public and decision makers through broadcast, print, and/or digital media.

If you want to create change – whether it is behaviour change in individuals, change in social norms, or policy change – then effective communication is vital.

This course will develop your skills for communicating about public health issues with a wide audience via traditional and new media. Through practical exercises you will hone your messages, practice your interview skills, and get individualised feedback.

Topics covered

  1. Communicating evidence and getting your message across clearly
  2. Interview skills for broadcast and print media
  3. Digital media: strategies for using it effectively
  4. Understanding how traditional and social media work

Style of course

Small group – teaching, practical exercises, and discussion in a group of up to 30 people.

Who should attend?

This course is for public health professionals whose role involves (or will involve) engaging with the media on matters of public health importance e.g. public health researchers, policy makers, medical officers of health, and health promoters. It is for those who want to communicate about research findings and/or policy issues (and their implications) clearly and effectively.

It is suitable for those with no (or limited) media experience as well as those with more experience who are seeking to further develop their media skills.

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration  
9:00am Topic(s)  
Introduction to media skills (1)
  • Why the media matter
  • Understanding journalists’ perspectives
  • Crafting messages
Dacia Herbulock (SMC)
10:45am Morning tea  
11:00am Topic(s)  
Group A: Interview practice Science Media Centre/Lorelei Mason
Group B: Digital media
Why, who and how of digital media
Values based communication using digital tools

Siouxsie Wiles
Laura O’Connell Rapira
12:45pm Lunch break  
1:45pm Session 3 topic(s)  
Group A: Digital media Siouxsie Wiles
Laura O’Connell Rapira
Group B: Interview practice Science Media Centre/Lorelei Mason
3:30pm Afternoon tea  
3:45pm Session 4 topic(s)  
Panel discussion Michael Baker
Dacia Herbulock
Lorelei Mason
Laura O’Connell Rapira
Siouxsie Wiles
4:45pm Wrap up  
5:00pm Finish  

Teaching staff

  • Established in 2008, the Science Media Centre is New Zealand’s leading provider of media training for scientists and researchers. It is also a trusted and independent source of information for the media on all issues related to science. The course is adapted from SMC’s renowned Media Savvy training and will be tailored for those working in public health.
  • Dacia Herbulock is Director of the Science Media Centre and runs the Science Media Savvy science communication training programme. She is a former documentary maker and radio journalist for RNZ.
  • Lorelei Mason is a media trainer and former TVNZ health reporter.
  • Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles is a microbiologist and award-winning science communicator who demystifies science for the general public via blogging and podcasting, as well as being a regular science commentator for Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme.
  • Laura O’Connell Rapira (Te Ātiawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa) is the Director of ActionStation, an independent, crowdfunded community campaigning organisation. She is passionate about unleashing the power of the crowd through digital and community organising, effective collaboration, and values-based storytelling

Course cost and registration

$450 early bird, $600 after 20 December 2018.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.