Creating new heroes: Promoting CERN in the post-Higgs era

Creating new heroes: Promoting CERN in the post-Higgs era

Author: Harriet Jarlett – CERN, Switzerland

We all know that the best stories have a hero.

For years, CERN’s hero was the Higgs boson. Physicists had a quest: to find this elusive particle using the world’s largest machine, the Large Hadron Collider. When the hero was discovered in 2012, CERN and particle physics made front-page news worldwide.

But five years on, what now? Communicating in the absence of discoveries such as the Higgs can be a challenge. Yet it can also be an opportunity: a chance to highlight CERN’s diverse experiments as well as the laboratory’s impact of CERN on society. We can let new heroes shine.

One such hero emerged: a little-known nuclear physics facility at CERN called ISOLDE. This facility, with a wealth of history, was in the midst of a dramatic upgrade. What’s more, it is soon welcoming MEDICIS – a new experiment at the forefront of medical research. Here, scientists will produce rare, exotic isotopes for doctors and hospitals, to help to diagnose and treat cancer in better and more effective ways than ever before. Naturally CERN’s particle physics remains revolutionary, yet now CERN has a nuclear physics hero to promote too.

But how to introduce this hero to the world? We’ll explain how, after two years of interviews, filming, script rewrites and staff turnover, we produced a cross-media content package, titled Meet ISOLDE.

Developing a mini documentary series was new for CERN but tackled some of our big content questions – such as how to keep visitors on our website for longer. Our approach, results and lessons learnt will offer valuable insights for science communication practitioners.

Join our ‘show, tell and talk” session to find out how CERN’s new hero was received and whether there were any villains along the way…

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices