WASHINGTON: Lipman Hearne coordinated the media launch this week of a global scientific project to develop a free, online, peer-reviewed "Encyclopedia of Life" that within 10 years will provide authoritative, multimedia information on all the 1.8 million named species on Earth.
Lipman Hearne VP Patrick Riccards said his firm, along with the public affairs teams of the Field Museum of National History, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution, and other organizations, collaborated on outreach to major media organizations around the world and to various scientific and educational groups whose members would either help develop the encyclopedia or use it.
The Web site, located at Eol.org and developed by the Marine Biological Laboratory, had received about 5 million hits within 24 hours of its launch.
Within 24 hours of the May 9 press conference in Washington announcing the project, about 500 English-speaking print publication and nearly 500 non-English publications had reported on the encyclopedia. Outlets reporting on the project included Reuters, Agence France-Presse, the Washington Post, and numerous other major newspapers. Embargoed releases were sent to CBS News, AP, and scientific trade titles such as Nature, among other outlets.
"It had all of the right pieces that make a good story, with multiple angles," thus appealing to ordinary citizens interested in science, students of all types, people that follow philanthropy or developments in Internet technology, and so on, said Riccards. "It also had great visuals. We have sample pages on the website so people can see what it looks like for, say, a polar bear or a Yeti crab."
The cost of the launch, including development of the logo and preliminary media research, was about $100,000, according to Riccards. Promotion of the encyclopedia by associated scientific and educations associations will also include the use of listservs, membership publications, and conferences and other events.
The encyclopedia, funded through a $20 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is expected to gradually accumulate information on about 50,000 species of animals, plants, and other life documented by 2008, and about 1 million within five years.