The Royal Society of Chemistry's week in the public eye

19 July 2010

After a week of news interviews across many national TV and radio shows, the Royal Society of Chemistry's profile has risen greatly again, reaching millions of people both in the UK and across the world.  

Richard Pike has been commenting and analysing all week on at least 13 shows, from the popular news programmes to the BBC's top science shows, on the chemical engineering involved in the ongoing BP story. 

Richard appeared on BBC Radio 4's Material World for 10 minutes. The interview can be heard at the start of the show via the link on the BBCiPlayer.

On Friday, Sky News wanted Richard to analyse the latest developments in the Gulf of Mexico following President Obama's statement that afternoon. He provided insight into how the latest capping device on the well would work as a temporary fix to the leak, before going on to describe the role the relief wells will play when they are completed. Sky News' Anna Young went on to ask about the clean up operation with Richard able to explain the degradation of oil, how microbes will be feeding on the oil and how long it would be expected to stay on the sea surface after the well has been blocked. 

Earlier in the day, Richard again appeared on BBC News 24 before popping over to BBC World TV where he was quizzed by Stephen Sackur. Both interviews were this time conducted in the studio face to face. The BBC World interview is available to view on YouTube.

Richard was interviewed on Radio 5 Live's informing listeners with overnight developments on the 5 Live Weekend Breakfast Show tomorrow morning. 
Today's BBC World News appearance on the 'Oil and Water' segment of Sackur's GMT show was important for its global outreach - the channel has 78 million viewers a week and reaches 282 million homes worldwide. Sky News' production team also clearly watch, as they called Richard shortly after that appearance to comment directly on Barack Obama's statement this afternoon shortly after 3pm.  

What is clear looking back on the week's events is how a well informed, concise analysis of events on one programme leads to further phone calls to appear on other shows. In David Shukman's case, he has seen Richard on News 24 and interviewed him for Wednesday night's 10 o'clock news. Our staff also saw another part of that interview the following morning on BBC Breakfast.  
It also became clear why Shukman's production team wanted several questions answered - so they could use different segments for different shows. Shukman's production editor revealed that the BBC has a 'star system', much like that used for Michelin's restaurant guide, where BBC contacts are rated between 1 and 3 stars depending on how good an interview they give. It probably won't be any surprise considering the number of interviews he has done, that Richard is categorised as a three star interviewee. 

The RSC also featured heavily in the Independent this week with a double page feature on science in education. The article on "the appliance of real science" is available on the Independent's website, written by Liz Lightfoot.

The pupils who succeeded in disproving the old wives tale that spiders are scared conkers also made the headlines at home and abroad. The Telegraph covered the story with a link to a video the Year 5 and 6 pupils made, showing their test. Jon Edwards provided the comments which first made the local news but was picked up later in the week by the nationals. Reuters Africa then picked up the story which made various online newspapers in several countries.

All this has helped raise the RSC's profile enormously, building our network of media contacts and allowing us to comment on issues such as education, energy and the environment when no one else has. We intend to capitalise on this to continue to push chemistry and the chemical sciences to the forefront of the public's consciousness in the run up to IYC next year. 

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