Terrific – as an academic you understand the importance of creating content for public audiences. (Watch this video if you need to be convinced why creating content from your research is good investment of your time). But maybe it is a challenge for you to identify ways to create content in a time efficient manner.
Before you begin creating content, it is important to first think through your goals: what audiences are you trying to reach; what messages do you want to disseminate; and what are some of the outcomes (personal and institutional) you would like to generate.
This is no small task and should not be taken lightly. It is actually a foundational point.
You can begin creating content once you have clarity around the above questions. You are one leg up on most other types of experts in that you are able to draw upon existing assets. Consider the below potential sources of inspiration.
I always find it interesting to delve into an individual’s research paper and identify the different possibilities for short 800-word articles. Be careful about trying to summarize an entire research paper in one 800-word blog post. Usually that is a dangerous exercise as the piece goes in too many directions.
I recently worked with a researcher who made multiple points in an article. This diluted the main point she was trying to communicate. We went on to determine that there were actually four article ideas within the one piece. Take a look at one of your latest research papers. There is a good chance that the paper will have at least three different separate themes that can be re-packaged into different short articles that can be disseminated in various ways to external audiences.
If you have written a book, then you will also have several article ideas that can be re-purposed into a series of different articles.
You probably have a plethora of presentations from your work in the classroom and attending conferences. This is a gold mine of content that can be re-purposed into short articles.
During a recent workshop at a business school, a professor asked an interesting question: how many articles could he write based on one lecture. Of course it was impossible for me to give an answer without seeing the materials, but in short the answer is probably several. You might have one slide that could be the basis for one fleshed out 800-word article.
Notes from events
One of the areas that I find most rewarding about working in higher education is the access to interesting individuals. If you are an academic, you probably are taking notes from the different conferences and events you attend. Think about how you might use those notes for your own content creation. I am guessing that you take such notes in part for your personal learning.
I find that taking the next step and repackaging those hastily typed notes and further fleshing out my own ideas into coherent articles accelerates the personal learning. In this process, you are then allowing others to learn as well.
Access to alumni and other interesting speakers
The above four topics all are a means of taking existing assets and re-purposing them. The topic within this subhead is a bit different as there isn’t a finalized existing asset to leverage, but I think the access you have merits a mention as you think about content creation.
Experts outside of academia usually don’t have the same degree of access to interesting people as you do. Such access can then be the basis for content creation, such as interviews, surveys that inform your analysis or co-authored pieces. Alumni from a school are the most obvious group. Also, you can feel confident reaching out to industry leaders who usually will view you as a non-threatening source.
I know of an academic who recently contacted Howard Schultz when he was CEO of Starbucks because she wanted to share some aspects of her research with him and explore collaboration possibilities. She was granted a meeting. If you are proactive, you can also connect with interesting guest speakers coming to your campus.
So there you have my initial ideas. Let me know in the comments over on LinkedIn if I am overlooking any sources and/or share any of your experiences on how create content from existing assets.
This article was written by Kevin Anselmo, the founder of Experiential Communications and the creator of the Research Translation Writing online course.