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Communications: Whatís your fancy?

Jeff Gunderson

A big part of what we do is communicating science to the public and more importantly communicating it to the people that need the information to help make policy decisions, to better enjoy and protect aquatic resources, to make lifestyle changes, or just become more informed. How we reach these stakeholders or user groups is changing rapidly. Take a quick look at our Web site and youíll see what I mean. You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our RSS or Podcast Feeds. We even post our educational videos to the Minnesota Sea Grant YouTube channel.

For several years now we have been working with KUMD to develop weekly radio shows on topics related to Lake Superior and our aquatic resources. These are available every Wednesday over several Public Radio stations around the region. Unlike radio programs of the past that were only broadcast once or twice, our radio shows are available on our Web site and they serve as a resource for people searching for topics of interest. Another feature that many people are taking advantage of is subscribing to our Podcasts, which are delivered automatically to your computer or smart phone for your listening pleasure (as they say). You can listen according to your schedule rather than the radio broadcast schedule.

If you really want to stay tuned to what we are up to you can also subscribe to three different RSS feeds ó our Seiche Newsletter Headlines, our Press Releases, and our Upcoming Events. We are also now working with Northland's NewsCenter to produce and air video interviews on aquatic science issues. Look for them on YouTube! A Webinar is another communications device that seems to be rapidly proliferating. It seems that on any given day, you can watch and listen to interesting seminars, conferences, or discussions on your computer or smart phone. This technology certainly opens up educational opportunities to a broader audience and saves on travel.

We want to make certain we remain relevant and reach our stakeholders in a way that is comfortable and convenient for them. This does create some interesting problems for us. We assume we are getting more bang for the buck because we have the opportunity to reach a much larger audience, but we donít really know who they are or what they do with the information we provide. I assume evaluation research will soon catch up to these newer program delivery options, but until then, weíre counting our followers, our subscribers and our downloads. If you are one of our followers or our subscribers, please donít hesitate to send us any suggestions or comments you may have. If you arenít yet connected to us please visit our Web site and consider liking us, following our Tweets, or subscribing to our RSS Feeds and Podcasts.

By Jeff Gunderson
June 2011

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