The proposed vehicles for the effort are a subcommittee of directors and a task force that would be composed of members of the subcommittee. The panels are expected to be approved at tomorrow's session of the full board at Stanford University.
We asked John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, Ca., if he had any comment on the communications move. He offered some advice to CIRM, based on his decades of experience in the newspaper business. His suggestions included a recommendation that the agency respond to questions rather than ignoring them, which it has done in some cases. The full text of Simpson's comments can be found here.
CIRM's one-page explanation of the communications effort said,
“The size of California, the diversity of its population, and the complexity of stem cell research present challenges to CIRM’s ability to communicate with the public. The subcommittee will work to establish a strategy to provide information on the progress of the board and the agency in meeting the mission of Prop 71.Specifically mentioned was the annual report, which the memo said should reflect the agency's performance and “promising new research areas.”
“To accomplish this, the board will call upon outside experts and the CIRM staff for input. The Subcommittee will seek to develop objectives and goals, for each quarter, over the next 24 months, starting with the second quarter of calendar year 2010. The subcommittee will develop a system for receiving public input and measuring the achievement of the goals. An implementation plan is contemplated with the participation of CIRM staff and outside experts.”
The memo continued,
“This report to the public is not currently broadly communicated to the public and there is a fundamental responsibility to bridge this communication gap with traditional earned media and online communications vehicles.” (Earned media is jargon for news coverage, also sometimes called “free media.”)As for the task force, the memo said,
“The Task Force will work to develop specific strategies with public communications media, covering non-scientific print media, television, radio and documentary earned media opportunities.”