One of the great things about working in astronomy is that the press and public are keenly interested in what we do. That's the good news. The bad news is that few of us receive any training, in our education or on the job, in how to communicate effectively with the press and public. Yet funding agencies increasingly expect researchers to reach beyond the scientific community to share discoveries and insights with a broader audience.
To help fill the gap between expectations and preparation ― and to help you avoid panic if a reporter calls ― many organizations offer media training for scientists. The best place to look for such help is at your own institution, which may offer media training through its news/press/media/public-information office (it goes by different names at different organizations). The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) conduct science-communication workshops all over the United States. The AAS hopes to begin offering similar workshops in conjunction with its semiannual meetings; watch our meeting announcements for more information.
In the meantime, in the Resources section below, you'll find six handy one-page "nutshell guides" that you may find helpful. AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg has distributed them at presentations he's given to groups of scientists around the country. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about any of them, please email Rick directly.