High-energy communication

On Wednesday at 10.40 a.m., the LHC operators declared “stable beams” after two years of technical stop and a few months of commissioning. It was an exciting day for all the teams involved, including those who worked on communicating the news to the public and the media on multiple platforms.


CERN’s most successful tweet on 3 June featured collision images from ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb and was shared 800 times by the Twitter audience.

Live blogging, social media posts, a live webcast, and a constant outpouring of photos and videos: Wednesday morning was a crazy time for the communication teams from CERN, the experiments and various institutes around the world. Even though the event started very early in the morning (the live CCC blog started at 7 a.m. and the live webcast at 8.20 a.m.), the public and the media tuned in to follow and generously cover the start of the LHC’s physics run at an unprecedented energy of 13 TeV.

The statistics showed thousands of visits to the live blog, over 15,000 viewers for the live webcast, and an incredibly engaged audience on social media (see the box below). The communication teams in the LHC experiments were all at work to provide timely images, animations and social media feeds. They also got an impressive response from the public: the CMS static event display received more than 450 retweets and more than 300 favourites, while the animated one received more than 320 retweets and more than 200 favourites. The animated event display also received more than 15,000 views on YouTube and 21,000 views on Facebook. In addition, the CMS event display featured prominently on the BBC article about the start of Run 2.

On the opposite side of the LHC ring, as soon as stable beams were announced, the ATLAS experiment released a statement in 13 languages. Meanwhile, their social media platforms gave a blow-by-blow commentary of the morning's events from the ATLAS control centre. These posts generated more than 400,000 impressions on Twitter and the highest reach of the year on Facebook.

Over at LHCb, applause rang out not upon the announcement of stable beams, but rather with the closing of their VELO (vertex locator) for the first time since Run 1. Their event display also garnered a lot of media attention, and was featured on the front page of the BBC. ALICE's first event display received similar attention, being featured by The Economist.

In the CERN Press Office, the telephone started ringing very early in the morning. Journalists were happy with the wide choice of communication products – photos, videos, live updates – that were on offer. The huge effort paid off as over 2500 press cuttings were collected over 48 hours – three to four times more than the average. In addition, over 200 news channels broadcast images from CERN on the day and the live webcast was broadcast by press agencies and websites.

The communication event on 3 June concludes an intensive 12-month storytelling media campaign involving the entire CERN Communication group and beyond. This laid the groundwork that led to the LHC restart having such a high impact in the media. This campaign started in June 2014 at the ESOF conference, when the LHC restart was put on the popular agenda as the accelerator chain began its restart. Sharing the different steps of the restart of the LHC has been like running a marathon: building up from the first circulating beams at Easter and culminating with the start of physics at 13 TeV.

So while the first day of Run 2 started with strong coffee for a lot of people in the CCC, the outcome was - once again - very rewarding. For a more technical account of the start of the high-energy run of the LHC and the steps that are ahead, do not miss this week’s LHC Report.

#13TeV - A new energy frontier also for CERN social media

In the 48-hour period around the start of physics at 13 TeV, CERN sent out 90 posts with the hashtag #13TeV on its social media channels (Twitter in English and French, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Instagram). Across the social media platforms, #13TeV was mentioned more than 22,000 times. The early start meant that most of our largest online audience, the US, was still asleep, however those on the other side of the world certainly appreciated it, with #13TeV trending in Australia.

CERN was mentioned more than 20,000 times on Twitter alone, with CERN’s English-language Twitter account gaining more than 1,700 new followers, taking the total number of followers to nearly 1.2 million. CERN’s Facebook page gained almost 1,700 new followers and saw the highest engagement of all of CERN’s social media channels in that period. The most successful post was an animation of the LHC, shared 3,500 times by the Facebook community. The same animation was watched more than 10,000 times on YouTube. CERN’s Instagram account, the newest of CERN’s social media channels, saw a total of 5,000 likes of CERN’s images during the 48 hours.


To watch the videos of the event, go to https://cds.cern.ch/record/2021102.

by CERN Communication Group