Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Whether you want to make the most of papers that you are already working on, or have a new research paper in mind, it's not just about getting it published. It is about leveraging your work for maximum impact. It doesn't matter if you are seasoned pro who is hitting-up the 4* journal rankings or you're just delighted to make headway with your first publication, there is more you can do with what you already have. Here are my top tips as a marketer on publicising your research.
Everyone has to start somewhere, but it's all about working smart...
You could produce the best papers on the planet and have findings that could change the direction of your discipline, but if people don't know about your research then it won't fulfil its potential. Take a second to think about the implications not publicising your research might have for the future of your research career? Or, if you want to continue that research? Your ability to publicise your work might be the key to unlocking your research potential.
You've worked hard to deliver the research,
publicising it is the working smart part.
Dr Sam's top tips - ps this is a good time to grab a coffee, I have a lot to say here:
Decide your audience - just like I would do for business public relations projects, it's important to carve out who the distinct audiences or stakeholders are for your work. You want to tailor communications for each Of these audiences. So, identify your audience and then decide what your key messages are.
Which media outlets will you use - decide how you will best communicate with each of these audiences or stakeholders. Where do they read, listen or engage?Twitter is great for keeping in touch with fellow academics, thought leaders and press when you are ready to announce the publication of your paper. Perhaps your blog is where you can explore specific segments of your findings in greater depth. LinkedIn is great for communicating with industry who might directly benefit from your work. Lastly, have you updated all of your personal brand pages e.g. institution website so the paper is accessible and viewable?
Speak with your institutions marketing and communications team - the team may help you reach a wider audience. Most institutions have a marketing and communication team and if your very lucky you might have a dedicated faculty marketing team or colleague. Share your work with them to see if the paper is newsworthy. This is also great opportunity for communications colleagues to learn more about you and your research. Marketing and communications teams often get press calls too. If they know you and your research area then they may be able to put your forward to media outlets for comment. Having worked in marketing I know that teams are always delighted to receive content. So, give the team the opportunity to decide if our research is worth syndicating (marketing speak for sharing with the press). Don’t hide your work away with fear of imposter syndrome. In any case it might be that the team can at least share it on your institution’s website.
Create a buzz before the paper hits the press - well before the paper is available it is worth sharing a short synopsis. You can share posts on academic research sites such as ResearchGate so people can follow what you are doing and for you to keep readers updated with project developments. If it's early enough in the project it might even open up doors to establish a new collaborative partner or co-author. As your publication reaches release again you want to communicate this with your community by providing links to where they can read the work and gradually sharing more information as it becomes available.
Backlinking - is there a topical news story or article that connects to what you are discussing? Then be part of the conversation - comment, share links, and retweets will enable you direct interested readers to your work. Many major brands will look for trending content on twitter and use those trending hashtags in their own tweets and posts to promote products and services. You can do the same with your research.
Develop a press release about your paper - in industry it is important to shout about a brand's successes. So each time my clients have something newsworthy I draw-up a press release. Let me know If you would like a template. A press release is a way of preparing information, so that it is in the most usable format for journalists and including a photo or image will increase your chances of the information being published
Include imagery in any posts, releases or shares - similarly, journalists and social media followers are more likely to use material if it is accompanied with imagery. Even if that is a professional photo of yours truly!
Finding non-traditional outlets who might be interested in your work - events, panels, guest sessions - if you plan to disseminate your work via any of these mediums make sure that the event organisers share your research with the audience audiences. If that's not possible then even just sharing a bio about you. Also, don't be afraid to approach event organisers speculatively, if you want to be part of an event - you never know. Also, people get sick, drop out at the last minute and they may just want to call you at the last minute to fill in for that keynote.
Make sure your audience can get in touch with you - on any information you produce Twitter details, website address, a public email address (you could even set up a gmail address solely for this latest project).
Team up with organisations - could you write for a website, appear on a podcast or develop a white paper with an organisation where you can share your findings further? Take a look - it might take time to find/create potential sources to do this, but it's a great way to connect with your research audience and you might even enjoy it a little - pssst radio is rather fun!.
"But Sam, I don't like publicising my own stuff or blowing my own trumpet ..."
If I had a £1 for every time I hear this. Now it may not be in your mindset to do these things and I get it. You'd be surprised at the number of directors I know who feel exactly the same. But what if your findings could make a difference to your audience? Then, its not about you anymore it's about contributing knowledge. I think this is a mind-set we need to change amongst academics. As the HE climate becomes more competitive and the government looks to institutions for impact and return on research output. We can't be sitting on our great ideas from the comfort zone of our office. You have to put your research out there.
So that's it - my top tips for publicising your research.. Why don't you try it out some of these tips with your existing research. Maybe you can get a bit more mileage out of that existing work. Let me know how you get on... you can tweet me @drsamlynch