The human race has never advanced at the rate it's moving now. It’s difficult to believe that just 100 years ago, humans were living in a world that couldn’t even imagine the technology that we have nowadays. If you think about it, what we’ve accomplished as a species in the last 100 years far outweighs the advancements that our ancient ancestors made in thousands.
In the early 20th century, some of the greatest inventions consisted of teabags, the safety razor, stainless steel and manned air travel (ok, the last one really was quite a feat!). Each, a fantastic invention in their own right which today we almost certainly take for granted.
Now imagine trying to explain to someone who marvelled at the invention of the safety razor that we now have cars that drive themselves, we can communicate seamlessly with people the other side of the world, we can print three dimensional objects and we succesfully landed the Curiosity Rover on Mars. Incidentally, the Rover just recently completed it's first Martian year (nearly 4 Earth years!)
The Communication Gap
With so many industries achieving so much at the same time, even scientists within the same organizations can’t always keep up with what’s going on in another department - The left hand doesn't quite know what the right is doing! Take this principle, and then multiply it by hundreds of thousands of academic institutions, governments and businesses around the world working within science and technological industries and it’s easy to spot the problem. Just imagine the inefficiency!
Let’s face it: we are so entrenched in the digital age that few people have the time to actually read academic journals anymore. Knowledge transfer requires a wide range of activities that support communication between universities, government agencies, businesses and the general public.
Infographic - How Ocean Pollution Affects Humans
Thought Leadership to the Rescue!
Understanding who wants to know what, and how to get that knowledge out there, is a critical part of establishing yourself as a thought leader, especially when much of your company’s worth relies on information.
Creating compelling information that stands out is a must. Leaders in the science, technology and medical sectors understand how important establishing their organization as a thought leader is. Think about where you go for your information. Chances are, you turn to the heavy-hitters. In other words, the ones who are getting useful information out there.
One more thing. That information doesn’t look the same as it did 50 years, or even 15 years, ago. Our attention spans are much shorter than they used to be. You have only a few seconds to hook your readers, so content needs to be visually stimulating and easy to digest, if you want it to capture the attention of your desired audience.
If you haven't already clicked on the infographic, do so now! It's a great example of how to present impactful data that grabs attention and highlights the message that we are continuously polluting the oceans. Now, would that data have reached as many people if it were solely text or tucked away in some academic journal? I think not.
Where Do You Start?
Nobody expects you to have all of the answers. It’s not uncommon for large government organizations and institutions to experience internal communication challenges, and with thought leadership being so critical, it’s okay to enlist the help of experts.
Thought leadership is about more than just getting the right information out there. It’s also about getting that information in front of the right people, in the right format at the right time (i.e. when they are searching for it). To develop effective content, you must:
You have very little time to grab attention, so make it easy to digest, include useful headings, short paragraph's and a mix of visual and text based content. Can you use a video, a diagram or an infographic to get your message across?
Provide new and thought-provoking information that people actually want to read
You don't have to come up with a brand new thesis each week. It can be thoughts and opinion on a particular new breakthrough, new applications for a developing technology or even an announcement of what you hope to achieve at an upcoming event.
Get information out on the channels that your target reader frequents.
Three great places to start include your website, your blog and your company Linkedin page as key channels to engage your audience - You never know when you will pop up in their searches. As you become more advanced, look at reputable publishers and specific campaigns that drive your readers toward a certain action.
Monitor what information resonates with your audience
Take your most succesful content and expand on it further, use analytics to see how your readers are finding and engaging with you and make strategic decisions accordingly.
Don’t Get Lost in the Shuffle
Be innovative, communicate that innovation, keep up with the innovations of others and proceed with some strategy, and your content will have more leverage. Any content that that gets distributed should be intentional and answer some sort of question. Gauging your audience’s response to each piece of content that you share will help you determine what you need to produce in the future. Ultimately, creating interesting material and getting it to the right people, will serve your organization well.
Feel free to drop us a line if you have any specific questions or problems with your organisation's knowledge transfer.