Copywriting involves writing text for marketing purposes. The pandemic has highlighted the need for marketers and copywriters who understand science. Science copywriting is one area of copywriting where scientists and science communicators (SciCommers) can play a huge role. Read on to learn more about copywriting and, specifically, science copywriting!
The Challenge: Communicating science effectively in marketing campaigns
Writing about science for the general public is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Science is governed by careful, logical, and balanced evaluation of facts and the use of validated methods. Science writers must stay within the boundaries of these scientific standards, regardless of their topic or audience, while they are informing and persuading.
The Solution: Science copywriting
As research and development accelerates science, a new class of writers, specifically trained in both science and marketing writing, are needed to unpack the complex science and make it digestible to a general audience.
In many ways, copywriting in science is much like copywriting for other fields. However, there are some key differences, namely: the methods and purpose of persuasion, your target audience, and the skills required. In this post, learn about copywriting, and what makes science copywriting, specifically, unique.
What is copywriting?
Copy is the industry term for text designed to inform and persuade an audience on a particular topic. So, copywriting is writing “copy”. Copywriters are hired by companies or individuals to create documents about their work or creations. These documents are aimed at a general audience. Topics for copywriters could be a product, an idea, an issue, an event, or a person. Think of it as part description, part promotion.
Copywriting is a form of marketing writing. It is often part of a larger marketing strategy. You often encounter copywriting in online advertisements, blog posts, even radio and television commercials.
What is science copywriting?
Science copywriting is a form of marketing writing that involves explaining scientific concepts in a way that make sense to everyone (not just scientists).
Scientific advances are redefining copywriting. As research and development continues to advance, products have become more complex. For example, the pandemic accelerated the development of a new class of vaccines using new technology.
Marketing text involving science can be difficult to write. That’s because science can be inherently complex and not always readily understandable by a general audience. That’s where science copywriting comes in. It unpacks science topics for a general audience. These topics can relate to physical, behavioral, or medical sciences, for example.
Science copywriters might write about a new discovery, an important theory, new evidence that reinforces or disproves previous findings, or an important researcher, among many other possible science-related topics.
Here are what some typical tasks might look like for a science copywriter:
- Explaining how a scientific product, such as a new cancer therapy, works
- Dispelling and debunking misinformation about a disease or pharmaceutical product
- Raising awareness of topics in health, medicine, technology, or other fields which depend on complex science
The key point of creating copy for science copywriting is that you are seeking to inform a general audience about something important in the field of science. The purpose of scientific copy is to relay information – facts, details, and descriptions. Thus, the role of “persuasion” in scientific copy is unique from its role in other types of copy.
Examples of Science Copywriting
Science copywriting can include social media posts, blogs, press releases, video scripts, or other marketing writing. This type of writing, while heavy on science, is geared toward a general audience.
Science copywriting, while heavy on science, is geared toward a general audience. #SciComm #MarketingTwitterTweet
For examples of science copywriting, just check out the online presence of any major biotechnology company. Here are a couple of examples from Twitter to give you an idea of what we’re talking about.
What sets apart scientific copywriting from other types of copywriting? The answer here is clearly the science. Scientific copywriting empowers people to learn and make decisions, often about their health, or just to help them better navigate the world with improved science literacy.
Science copywriting requires science knowledge
Copywriting, as a form of marketing, is traditionally all about persuasion. Persuading someone means influencing their preferences, beliefs, or perceptions. However, the meaning of persuasion – or rather, the methods used to persuade – differ significantly based on the context.
In marketing, for example, it is common to rely on consumer testimonials. It is also common to focus only on the benefits of a product – to put the best face forward. This approach may work when deciding what shampoo to buy, but when you’re dealing with complex scientific information, a different approach is needed.
For one thing, scientific conclusions should reflect facts obtained via careful application of the scientific method, so it is essential to provide all available information. In science, you are persuading your audience to accept the conclusions you make, and the facts you are basing those conclusions on, as the logical conclusion of all available evidence. These facts and conclusions should be prudent, balanced, and reasoned. Most importantly, this information should be accessible to a general audience.
In scientific copywriting, you must know your audience, use critical thinking skills, and communicate effectively
Copy is always written for a public audience. In other words, it is written so that a broad audience, with varying levels of background knowledge and reading comprehension skills, can understand what you are talking about.
In a sense, the audience for science copywriting is the same as for any other type of copywriting. The difference is in what this means for how you write your copy.
Scientific research and conclusions are based on complex methods, and, within the scientific community, discussions usually include a large amount of technical language and require a significant background of technical knowledge. Thus, the key to science copywriting is to break down this jargon, parsing out the key information, and relaying it in a way that even someone with no scientific knowledge base could understand. This is one aspect that makes the necessary skillset for science copywriting unique.
Science copywriting requires unique skills
All copywriters must be competent in writing and research. They must write clear, concise, and compelling copy. They must also research an array of topics, decide what information is key, and anticipate their audiences’ interests and capacities. These skills carry over to science copywriting. There are also a few additional skills that are unique to, or amplified within, science copywriting.
Skills specific to science copywriting relate to what these writers are informing – or “persuading” – their audience about and the expectations and competencies of their audience. Subject matter expertise in science, especially that derived from hands-on research and coursework in science, helps write great science copy.
A science background provides a significant advantage to accurately capture the nuance of the topic, critically evaluate new data as it may emerge, and inform authoritatively and accurately. The skills unique to science copywriting revolve largely around the ability to find, evaluate, and explain complex scientific methods and data in simple terms.
Other unique skills revolve around the ability to build compelling, logical arguments and validating supporting arguments and the invalidating counterarguments using facts and reasoning.
The Bottom Line
Copywriting involves writing text (copy) for marketing purposes. Science copywriting drives marketing goals via effective science communication to the general public. It requires a specialized skillset combining science knowledge and critical thinking skills with traditional marketing knowledge. As a result, the best science copywriters come from a science background and interface with both the science world and the marketing world.
Science copywriting is powerful because it relies upon research and facts. However, the basic skills required between copywriting and science copywriting do not differ much beyond the scientific aspect.
Science copywriting is a great way for aspiring science communicators to gain experience translating complex scientific and medical concepts to a general public. If you’re interested in becoming a science copywriter, check out our book on the topic, “How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing.”
Fancy Comma, LLC provides expert science copywriting for various sectors including health, business, science, finance, and technology. Check out our science copywriting and copyediting services.