Communicating the Value of Our Science
The ACS Office of Public Affairs (OPA) in the Office of the Secretary & General Counsel is a leader in communicating about chemistry’s central role in solving global challenges with policymakers and the public.
In 2015, news about chemistry from ACS journals, Chemical & Engineering News and national meetings reached the public in record numbers. Independent monitoring data for 2015 shows that ACS-generated publicity resulted in more than 49,000 news articles, a significant increase from 2014 that resulted in potential readership or viewership of billions. These stories appeared in media outlets such as ABC News, BBC News, CBS News, Fox News, Huffington Post, National Public Radio, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Yahoo! News. The ACS Office of Public Affairs (OPA) generated this news coverage by issuing press releases (including the weekly ACS PressPac), holding press conferences and using social media.
The award-winning OPA video team produced more than 250 videos in 2015. These videos were viewed or downloaded more than 15.6 million times in 2015. They include popular YouTube series such as Reactions, C&EN’s Speaking of Chemistry, and Headline Science.
Reactions was launched in 2014 and is the ACS’ most popular ongoing video series. It explores chemistry’s role in everyday life. More than 110 episodes have been produced on topics such as why people are allergic to peanuts, whether vitamin supplements really work, and the chemistry of addiction. These episodes received more than 16 million views and have more than 100,000 subscribers. The series, which is now the most popular YouTube channel ever launched by an organization (scientific or otherwise), has been featured on NPR, in Wired, Time, and The Washington Post.
OPA played a key role, along with M&SA, in organizing a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Summit. We brought together CTOs from 17 leading chemical companies in Washington, D.C. OPA arranged for key external stakeholders from government, trade associations, and scientific and technical organizations to attend the opening reception and interact with the CTOs. OPA arranged for all programmatic aspects of the Summit.
In its seventh year, ACS Chemistry Ambassadors has more than 10,000 volunteers. These ambassadors do many things to promote better understanding of chemistry and its role in our everyday lives. This year OPA designed and launched as a pilot, a mobile game to engage members in a fun way to share chemistry in their communities. Players earned points and badges by completing missions such as giving ACS scholarship information to teachers and guidance counselors; talking to elected officials about why funding for research matters; and having a great answer ready for the inevitable “So what are you studying in chemistry?” question at family reunions, backyard barbeques, and in countless plane trips all around the world.
In 2015, OPA promoted Chemistry Champions, a contest designed to engage young members in communicating chemistry to the public via social media and ultimately live performance. In the final week of competition, including live events and YouTube videos by 4 finalists, knowledge of and conversation about the contest reached over 200,000 Twitter accounts and generated nearly 5 million impressions.
OPA hosted five Science & the Congress briefings during 2015. These events resulted from partnerships with the ACS Board Committee on Corporation Associates, the ACS Committee on Chemists with Disabilities, the National Academies University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, and the Arizona State University Center for Nanotechnology in Society. OPA also supported two events on STEM education through its advocacy program, supported two congressional events for the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, and hosted a National Science Foundation workshop on nanotechnology governance in association with one of the briefings.
The ACS Experts program continues to grow and demonstrate impact. The 41 trained Experts made chemistry understandable for general audiences, policymakers, and student groups and were interviewed by numerous media outlets including Time, Wired, Yahoo Health, Huffington Post, Discovery News, BBC, Slate, Forbes, Science News, Nature, and CNN. There were more than 160 placements from ACS Experts in 2015—up from 100 in 2014.
ACS and its members celebrated National Chemistry Week 2015 (NCW). The theme "Chemistry Colors Our World" attracted thousands of families and children of all ages to events nationwide. More than 90 percent of ACS local sections participated, distributing nearly 140,000 copies of Celebrating Chemistry, the hands-on activity publication. The print editions were made available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with French and Mandarin versions available online. ACS received a letter from President Barak Obama recognizing NCW. Also, the U.S. Senate issued a resolution sponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) praising NCW.
In 2015, the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program celebrated four developments in the history of chemistry: The invention of Polaroid instant photography, the Keeling Curve measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the isolation of the plant pigment phytochrome, and the pneumatic iron process used in steel making. The program reached more than 425,000 visitors through its website and thousands of others through dedication ceremonies, articles in general press and announcements to ACS members.