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Access to expert insights to help guide organizations as they plan, implement, and promote expertise marketing programs to better leverage the valuable experts within.

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Academic Freedoms are Now on the Ballot as State Legislators Seek More Control Over Institutions and Their Experts.

Last month, President Biden had a very direct message for colleges and universities looking to navigate through the choppy waters of state politics in the face of the recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. v. Wade. As Idaho state legislators get to work rolling out its “trigger ban,” President Biden bashed the University of Idaho over its new guidance against offering birth control for students. “Folks, what century are we in? What are we doing? I respect everyone’s view on this — personal decision they make. But, my lord, we’re talking about contraception here. It shouldn’t be that controversial,” Biden said during last month's meeting of the White House Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. Image: White House Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access Meeting However the new policy by the University of Idaho goes further and advises employees not to speak about reproductive rights at work and warns they could face a felony conviction for promoting abortion, The Washington Post reported. While President Biden warned other universities to not enact the same policies. and said that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will look at steps to protect college students and school employees in Idaho or other states where access to contraception is at risk, these events are sparking a larger debate around academic freedom. With such a polarized political landscape dividing much of the country on key issues such as abortion, should we be worried about what’s next? How do these actions in effect suppress important research and informed perspectives provided by academics? While state governments as critical funding sources for higher education have wielded considerable influence, these more overt actions to sanction freedom of speech is a disturbing trend. Academics, researchers and staff within an institution require rights and privileges essential to the fulfilment of primary functions: instruction; the pursuit of knowledge and service to the community. Central among these rights is the freedom, within the law, for faculty experts to pursue what seems to them as relevant avenues of inquiry, to teach and to learn unhindered by external or non-academic constraints, and to engage in full and unrestricted consideration of any opinion. Critics argue that suppression of these freedoms, whether by the government, the officers of the institution, or the actions of private individuals, would prevent a University from carrying out its primary functions. A core principle of scholarship is the freedom to express ideas through respectful dialogue and the pursuit of open discussion, without risk of censure. Other Universities Have Taken a Different Stance... Vanderbilt University  This argument has been supported by other schools and the examples they have set. School officials at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, where a near-total ban on abortions took effect within the state in August, coordinated a reproductive-health task force and announced stronger support for reproductive health and parenting, even appointing a new leader to convene these resources for the University, The Washington Post reports. Elsewhere we are also seeing similar support by State University Officials in Michigan where a 1931 ban has been ruled unenforceable by the courts. The University of Michigan  In the lead-up to the Roe V Wade reversal, The University of Michigan created an abortion-care task force of experts to reduce the potential impact of a state-wide ban, created by Mary Sue Coleman, the president of the University of Michigan, as reported by The Detroit News. Coleman wrote “I will do everything in my power as President to ensure we continue to provide this critically important care.” in a statement in June, after the Supreme Court ruling. The president told The Detroit News that "we have a female-dominated institution; we care about our own communities as well as those we serve through clinical care and education," Coleman said. "I am deeply concerned about how prohibiting abortion would affect UM's medical teaching, our research, and our service to communities in need.” Concerns regarding the imminent crackdown on University campuses on the discussion and offer of birth control to students were expressed by many University officials in the months leading up to Idaho’s guidance on the matter. Dee Fenner, co-chair of the task force and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Michigan Medicine spoke of the clinical and educational impacts of an abortion ban in Michigan, as reported by The Detroit News. "The most serious consequences will be felt in the university’s clinical care realm, by patients without financial or logistical resources to access out-of-state abortion care — disproportionately people of colour, adolescents and those in rural Michigan," Fenner said. “But the impact will be felt in our classrooms as well, where pregnancy, undesired birth or complications of unsafe abortion may impact educational attainment.” Another consideration will be the additional “brain drain” that institutions in these states will experience with faculty experts leaving for institutions with less restrictive policies. It also could have a significant impact on recruitment as more students choose schools where their reproductive rights are protected. Speaking to the Michigan Daily, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, Miya Brado describes the day that it was announced Michigan had enough signatures as “one of the best days ever”, with the hard work “finally paying off.” We must recognize this fundamental principle and must share responsibility for supporting, safeguarding and preserving this central freedom. Behaviour that obstructs free and full discussion, not only of ideas that are safe and accepted but of those which may be unpopular, vitally threatens the integrity of our educational and research institutions.

Peter Evans Georgia Sarjeant

November 03, 2022

4 min

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Building Your Own Expert Network - How Expert Personas Help you Organize & Develop Your Talent Pool

As business continues to evolve at an unprecedented rate, companies need new ideas and strategies that help them rapidly transform to keep pace and grow. This explains the massive popularity that expert networks are having as companies look to connect with subject-matter experts with specialized sector and functional expertise who can accelerate their transformation efforts. Expert networks now represent a multi-billion dollar industry, helping companies in a variety of ways. From helping build primary research to assessing new market or acquisition opportunities to conducting due diligence for new technology purchases or competitive benchmarking, expert networks provide a valuable service. While many companies are increasing their use of traditional expert networks, there is also a trend toward organizing and developing internal talent by implementing a "knowledge management platform" or "employee skills marketplace." These can also be extended to engage broader audiences when experts are listed publicly as part of an Expert Center, Media Room, or Speakers Bureau. Depending on the scope and market visibility organizations wish to commit to in sharing their expertise, such programs can yield the following benefits: Improved access to shared knowledge throughout the organization Faster innovation through an improved discovery of key experts available for project opportunities Higher amount of cross-functional engagement between departments A more collaborative relationship with employees through better knowledge engagement and skills development Less reliance on outside consultants and traditional expert networks Improved brand reputation by engaging experts in thought leadership activities Increased media coverage and speaking engagements Improved business development opportunities by engaging experts earlier in the sales process Improved connection with the local community Additional ways to foster Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion throughout the organization What is an expert network? An expert network is a service that matches clients with experts who are willing to share their knowledge and advice via short conversations. These are usually in the form one hour long expert interviews conducted with the client. Expert networks such as GLG, AlphaSights, Guidepoint Global, Third Bridge, and Coleman Research help match the client's interest to specific experts in their private database of experts on call. They also look after logistics such as scheduling the expert interviews and have detailed processes for qualifying experts to ensure compliance with the exchange of information. And they handle time tracking and billing of interviews which are typically charged based on an hourly rate. They also handle the payment of fees to the experts following the interview. Building your own knowledge platform There is a growing trend towards organizing their expertise given the profound challenges organizations are facing. And these challenges didn’t just start when the pandemic hit. In a recent Deloitte survey, 63% of executives reported that work in their organizations is currently being performed in teams or projects outside of people’s core job descriptions, 81% say work is increasingly performed across functional boundaries, and 36% say work is increasingly being performed by workers outside of the organization who don’t have defined jobs in the organization at all. Yet fewer than half (42%) of respondents say their organization’s job descriptions do an “excellent job” of specifying the work that needs to be done in their positions. As work becomes far more fluid, packaging skills into rigid job descriptions leads to a lot of untapped human capital in organizations. It’s an issue that hasn’t gone unnoticed by leadership. Research shows that only 18% of executives strongly agree that their workforce is using their skills and capabilities to their fullest potential. 85% of HR and business executives say organizations should create more agile ways of organizing work to improve speed and swiftly adapt to market changes. These issues underscore the need to better organize and develop internal talent by implementing a "knowledge management platform" or "employee skills marketplace." This is for a variety of reasons. With vast amounts of acquired knowledge pooled across various departments and teams, it can be difficult for other employees to access this knowledge when it is outside their area of expertise - as the old saying goes, “people don't know what they don't know.” Organizing your expertise for external audiences also can provide huge benefits for building reputation, relationships, and revenues. How to position your experts as industry thought leaders More and more organizations are looking at employees who can advance their innovation efforts internally, often as part of a cross-functional team or special project. And there are also important revenue-generating activities, such as sharing research and perspectives through content generation (blogging, webinars, podcasting) or speaking (at internal events, industry conferences, or as an expert source for media interviews). Determining how to best identify and put experts to work isn't a simple process. That's because to do this right requires a more disciplined approach to assessing and developing the talent across your organization. One that goes beyond linear career paths and traditional job titles we assign to employees. It also requires a more progressive approach to diversity and experience. One that is not simply correlated to seniority or authority in an organization. Given the current state of the talent market, most organizations are also recognizing the importance of managing their talent, listening more to employees, and helping them achieve their goals - both professional and personal. And that extends to how best to tap into their skills that can benefit the organization both internally and externally. That's why we developed a talent framework that helps identify opportunities where subject-matter experts can best contribute as well as potential options for professional development. To make this process more intuitive, we have developed a model that outlines 4 "expert personas" that detail the various characteristics related to experts in an organization along with a potential development path. Level 1: Experts in the "Practitioner" persona group can offer their organizations a wide range of skills. Our research and in-field experience with companies focused on innovation reveals that organizations can realize significant gains by tapping into this broad pool of talent. To better engage practitioners, we have helped universities better engage their Ph.D. candidates who are approaching graduation to conduct research and writing content that promotes their work and institutional brand to prospective students or donors. This also extends to corporate innovation. A recent example of this was our collaboration with a Fortune 500 company in the CPG sector, where we completed the build of an internal expert network. One of the key challenges this organization faced was the inability to quickly engage with “practitioners” - subject-matter experts across the organization who could help with specific R&D and innovation projects. While this organization had legacy HR and intranet communication platforms, they had experienced a number of challenges engaging their researchers. To make things worse the pandemic forced many to work from home, creating the need for more opportunities to engage online. They needed the ability to conduct simple searches to find other researchers relevant to their work who could help them with projects. Our research/writing team started the process by taking an inventory of experts and then developed profiles for each researcher in collaboration with the company’s research/innovation team using the ExperFile SaaS software platform. With the unique data structure used to categorize this broader set of biographical information, we then enabled advanced search capabilities to build a private, SOC2 (security) compliant expert network which was easily integrated into their existing talent platforms. With thousands of researchers across the globe, they now have the ability to quickly search for experts on areas such as skills, topics, work experience, research publications, company/industry experience and IP/patents. It’s important to note that activating all this hidden expertise not only lays the groundwork for faster innovation. It also can reduce the fees associated with outside expert networks and consultants, maintains tighter internal control of proprietary research information and forges stronger collaborations between experts across the globe. Level 2: The "Ambassador" category represents experts with a more developed set of skills and a reputation both inside their organization and within their community of practice. Working with them to generate more exposure through internal speaking engagements and within their local community is a great way to create market visibility. For example, we have worked with a number of professional services firms to make experts at this level more visible in their local markets. Building reputation and generating new client opportunities with thought leadership activities such as blogging, webinars and speaking at local business events or on podcasts is a proven way to tap into this talent. These activities have allowed organizations we have worked with to bring in new clients and increase revenues across various practice areas. Ambassadors are also perfect for involvement in on-campus recruitment events where competition for talent is high. Particularly in fields such as engineering, law and accounting. One way to make these experts more approachable to a wider audience is by creating a speaker’s bureau. Remember that not all your experts will be comfortable speaking to the media, however, they can still meaningfully contribute as a keynote speaker or panelist at an event. Organizing your experts on key topics enables local event and conference organizers to find you more easily in Google search results and on your website. In addition to getting your experts on the podium, it’s a proven way to get your expert's guest appearances on webinars and podcasts. Given the growing importance of these channels, we recently formed partnerships with the leading marketplaces for webinars and podcasts - BrightTalk and Podchaser to help our clients promote their experts for speaking opportunities. Level 3: Experts in the "Authority" category have developed a strong reputation as an expert in their field, often speaking at academic or industry conferences. At this level, they have also developed a degree of proficiency in speaking as an expert source with the local or national media. They can be found speaking as a guest on podcasts to share their knowledge and are often active on social media. In higher education, these people are critical to helping media relations and other departments generate media coverage that is essential to building a reputation. We have worked with many organizations that effectively engage their Authorities by staying connected to their research and publications and collaboratively creating regular content with them to reach a broader audience. You will find regular opportunities to boost coverage with local and national media by utilizing this group of experts. We work with media teams to conduct Google Search (SEO) analysis to identify what topics their target audiences are searching for. This allows them to more strategically focus on key experts to promote. They are also focused on delivering more engaging content formats such as video interviews and Q&A to boost Google PageRank and audience engagement across their website. And they are working collaboratively with their faculty to post media advisories and a regular stream of content that contributes to higher rates of discovery by journalists looking for expert sources. Level 4: Experts in the "Evangelist" category are those go-to experts that you often see in the media as key spokespeople representing a certain topic. They are seen as notable authorities with deep domain expertise within their community of practice which has often been earned through heavy research and publications. Chances are they have also authored books that provide a path to speaking engagements at conferences and media interviews. These are also the people who have developed a regular audience through blogging or by hosting a podcast and have a well-established social media following. Ultimately, what separates this group from the others is the significantly broader market profile they have earned as a thought leader. These individuals have an intuitive sense of how to communicate complex topics in a relatable way that both educates and engages. That makes them particularly valuable to the organizations whose brands they represent. Given the degree of qualifications required to operate at this level, it’s to be expected that you will find far fewer “evangelist” category experts in any organization. Many are naturally found within the ranks of the executive team. These are the people who are comfortable in interviews, and most have extensive public speaking experience appearing on a large stage and on radio and television. At this level, organizations need to be far more strategic about how they utilize this talent pool to build a reputation and reach a wider audience. We have seen first-hand how strategic thought leadership programs can build a platform for these experts that can pay huge dividends. One healthcare system we have worked with recently forged a relationship with ABC News to feature one of their medical experts (a medical doctor) on a weekly segment related to important Covid-related health topics. Given the frequent appearances this expert has made on television, this was an earned media home run and a great way for this healthcare system to build visibility and trust within the community by providing accurate medical information. Their commitment to making their medical experts more discoverable and approachable online has also helped them promote their strengths in areas such as cardiology, neonatal, cancer, and genetic research. And the results are impressive. Over the past year, they have doubled their national media coverage and are currently outperforming much larger healthcare systems in their area. How to organize your experts Personas by their very nature are designed to provide a more standardized approach for planning using "clusters" of talent that are grouped against common characteristics. However, we're very aware that they cannot possibly capture all the nuances you will find within your organization when it comes to talent. But our experience helping leading organizations in knowledge-based industries to better manage thousands of experts shows that having a more methodical approach pays off. It optimizes the internal/external contributions and the development paths of experts to create win-win opportunities. but it also helps forge a stronger connection with employees who feel their organization is taking the development of their professional skills more seriously and more actively creating avenues for them to engage and contribute. With an understanding of these personas, we can then focus on another important consideration - where can we best engage our experts to more effectively tap into their skills inside and outside the organization? To help answer that question, we developed a "Talent Assessment Grid" (TAG) that helps you identify key areas where each of these personas can contribute. As a planning tool, it's meant to provide a more organized approach that helps you assess your bench strength and create a more tangible system for measuring progress over time in areas such as skills development or contributions to cross-functional innovation projects or outside industry consulting. Playing to the individual strengths these experts have while moving them out of their comfort zone to develop additional skills also yields additional marketing benefits. Contributing content; speaking at conferences or community events or to the media are proven ways to build market visibility, establish trust and generate revenues - and experts play a vital role in this process. A thriving network where knowledge is easily discoverable inside an organization and strategically shared outside in the community and beyond can make a huge difference in boosting innovation and culture. When properly promoted, these experts will also help you grow your reputation, relationships, and revenues. Although this process requires commitment, it positions you to be more agile and outperform your competition by ensuring you are optimizing every employee’s true potential and making them more discoverable both inside and outside the organization. How are you putting your expert talent to work? Do you have a process you use today for identifying and engaging your experts? We would like to hear from you. For more insights on how you can organize your experts online to support your internal knowledge management or promote them to a wider audience, visit us at https://expertfile.com/resources to learn more.

Peter Evans

August 10, 2022

11 min

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What the Roe V. Wade Reversal Means for Data Privacy

Following the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V Wade on the 26th June 2022, abortion laws are now changing across states on an almost daily basis. The landmark decision and huge signifier for the rights of women in the United States and across the world of 1973, is now nothing but history. In 13 states with “trigger laws”, abortion laws will take immediate effect, with others being implemented about a month after the ruling. While ‘the patchwork of state laws and barrage of court filings mean that for half the country', the legal status of abortion remains ambiguous, a month on, one thing remains certain - concerns regarding tech companies and the protection of user privacy in regards to abortion cases are only growing. New questions have been raised and existing debates regarding data privacy have been reignited. Debates center on the extent to which tech companies should protect the information of users seeking abortions and the steps that both consumers and companies can take in line with current laws. While many large corporations, including tech companies Microsoft, Apple, Meta, Disney, Uber, Netflix and Amazon have announced they will provide travel expenses for abortions if they are not available in the state, the role of tech companies in protecting private users' information remains unclear. What are the concerns? Location Tracking On Tuesday May 24th, 42 Democratic lawmakers urged Google SEO Sundar Pirchai to stop collecting and keeping unnecessary or non-aggregated location data which could be used against people seeking abortions. Before the overruling, the lawmakers wrote “if abortion is made illegal…it is inevitable that right-wing prosecutors will obtain legal warrants to hunt down, prosecute and jail women for obtaining critical and reproductive health care.” In comparison to Apple, which has demonstrated that smartphone companies do not need to retain customer location data, Google ‘has created a new digital divide’, which makes ‘privacy and security a luxury’. Ultimately, privacy for Americans who cannot afford an iPhone is at greater risk. While Google sent a company-wide email stating they would cover out-of-state travel expenses for abortion, they have still made no statement in response to the Democratic lawmaker's request on customer location data since the rollback of Roe V Wade. Period-Tracking Apps Alongside concerns about location tracking data with companies such as Google, one of the newer sources of anxiety in terms of data privacy is the use of cycle tracking apps. Since the draft decision was leaked in early May, there have been widespread concerns over the use of period-tracking apps and calls for American women to delete them to avoid their data being used against them in court. Danielle Citron, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law expresses her concern that using such tracking apps could help build a legal case against a woman who has had an abortion. She states "you got your period on X date, you missed your period, then let's say, for example, 20 weeks later you got your period again, and that in that time period your location shows that you went to a clinic either in the state or out of the state — that in so many respects is the circumstantial evidence that a prosecutor needs.” Tech policy researcher Eva Blum-Dumontet tells Insider that if people find period-tracking apps genuinely useful they shouldn’t feel they have to get rid of them ‘because the risk of data being handed to law enforcement is low’. But at the same time, ‘it is not impossible.' One of the main period tracking apps, Flo, has issued a statement in response to Roe V Wade which reads ‘we will do everything in our power to protect the data and privacy of our users', with an additional feature to existing security measures including “anonymous mode”, which allows users to remove their personal identity from their Flo account. Flo has stated that more clarity will be given in the coming weeks and months. Limiting Online Discussion of Abortion Pills and Aid Since the Supreme Court’s verdict, online memes, statuses and posts have exploded, sharing resources and thoughts on the decision. Facebook and Instagram have started removing posts related to abortion pills, following the rise in the discussion of access to them and offers to mail them across the US. Media intelligence firm Zignal Labs records that general mentions of abortion pills, as well as posts mentioning specific versions such as mifepristone and misoprostol, suddenly spiked on Friday morning across Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and TV Broadcasts. Following the release of a screenshot obtained by the Associated Press of an Instagram post from a woman who offered to buy and send abortion pills through the mail, being taken down within a few minutes by Instagram, AP decided to test out how Meta would respond to a similar post on Facebook. On Monday, the AP reporter wrote “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills.” The post was removed in under one minute. Interestingly, when the AP reporter made the same post but ‘swapped out the words “abortion pills” for “a gun”, the post remained untouched.’ Can past cases inform the future? While the response of tech companies in protecting public data regarding the concerns raised above is still relatively ambiguous, we can refer to past cases where smartphone data was used as evidence in cases against women. In 2018, Lattice Fisher was charged with second-degree murder after she experienced a ‘stillbirth at home and a state medical examiner claimed the baby had been born alive and died of asphyxiation, according to Oktibbeha County court records.’ Fisher’s mobile data records allegedly contained a search for “buy abortion pills”, and mifepristone and misoprostol, the two main forms of self-managed abortion medications. Although Fisher got out of jail later in 2018, Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and the executive director of Yellow Hammer Fund, who had been heavily involved with Fisher’s bail, said that the impact will forever taint Fisher’s life. “Anytime someone Googles her for a job that mugshot with a story of her being indicted for a second-degree murder will always be there.” In 2015, Purvi Patel was prosecuted in Indiana under the state’s feticide law after she took safe, well-known abortion medication. Prosecutors had claimed that the baby was born alive and did not survive. In this case, Patel’s text messages mentioning the abortion pills were the main evidence used against her. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but her conviction was overturned and she was released after serving 18 months. Many people had wondered how the case had happened when abortion was a protected right under the constitution. With the right to abortion in the US now only marking a historical moment, the role of tech companies in the protection of user data will only become increasingly pivotal in a post-Roe world.

Georgia Sarjeant

July 26, 2022

5 min

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Are You an Expert? Here’s How to Tell

Have you ever wondered whether or not you are an expert? When asked this question about what defines expertise, you will hear a variety of answers. Many will reference key requirements such as an expert must have extensive knowledge in their field. Others will see education, published work, or years of experience as key qualifiers. Yet there are so many other dimensions of expertise that contribute to how visible, influential and authoritative they are within their community of practice or with the general public. Who Qualifies as an Expert? I started looking closer at this topic for two reasons. The first is my personal work with experts. Having worked with thousands of them across a variety of sectors I've observed that many are driven to develop themselves professionally as an expert to meet a variety of objectives. Often these are focused on raising one's profile and reputation among peers or with the broader market to inform the public. Some see media coverage being an essential part of their strategy while others are more interested in developing a larger audience for their research or client work, by speaking at conferences or on podcasts. Others have a focus on improving their PageRank on search engines. All these activities can enable important objectives such as attracting new clients, research funding or talent. The second reason for this deeper dive into expertise is a need to better organize how we look at experts within organizations. My work with communications departments in knowledge-based sectors reveals that they are keen to learn more about how they can better engage their experts to build reputation, relationships and revenue. However, better engagement starts with a better understanding of what qualifies someone as an expert - what attributes can we objectively look at that define expertise? With that knowledge, we can first better appreciate the amount of work experts have put into establishing themselves in their field. Then organizations can nurture this expertise in a more collaborative way to accomplish shared goals. My observation is that with a little more insight, empathy, and alignment, both experts and their organizations can accomplish incredible things together. And there has never been a more important time for experts to "show their smarts." By definition, an expert is someone with comprehensive or authoritative knowledge in a particular area of study. While formal education and certifications are a starting point for expertise, many disciplines don’t have a set list of criteria to measure expertise against. It’s also important to recognize other dimensions of expertise that relate not just to the working proficiency in a field but also to the degree of influence and authority they have earned within their profession or community of practice. Because of this, expertise is often looked at as a person’s cumulative training, skills, research and experience. What are the Key Attributes of Expertise? In evaluating your accomplishments and the various ways you can contribute as an expert to both your community of practice and the public, here are some key questions that can help you assess how you are developing your expertise: Have you completed any formal education or gained relevant experience to achieve proficiency in your chosen field? Are you actively building knowledge in a specific discipline or practice area by providing your services as an expert? Are you generating unique insights through your research or fieldwork? Are you publishing your work to establish your reputation and reach a broader audience such as publications or books? Are you teaching in the classroom or educating and inspiring audiences through speaking at conferences? Do you demonstrate a commitment to impact your community of practice and help advance your field and generate an impact on society by informing the public? Have you established a reputation as a go-to source for well-informed, unique perspectives? Some Additional Tips to Help you Develop Your Expertise To further the discussion, I’ve also shared further thoughts about the meaning of “expertise”. As you think about developing your own personal skills, or if you are a communicator who is responsible for engaging with your organizations experts, here are a few additional principles to keep in mind. Experts Aren't Focused on Some“Magic Number” Related to Hours of Experience Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” (2008), outlined the now famous “10,000-hour rule” as the magic number of greatness for the time it takes to master a given field. As the rule goes, you could become a genuine expert in a field with approximately 10,000 hours of practice — roughly 3 hours a day, every day for a consecutive decade. But is that what it really takes to become an expert? But is that what it really takes to become an expert? Or did Gladwell oversimplify the concept of expertise? Some of his assumptions for “Outliers” (which became a major bestseller) relied on research from Dr. Anders Ericsson at Florida State University who made expertise the focus of his research career. Contrary to how Gladwell outlined it, Ericsson argued that the way a person practised mattered just as much, if not more, than the amount of time they committed to their discipline. It also depends on the field of research or practice one is involved in. Some disciplines take decades to achieve expertise and many experts will admit they are just scratching the surface of what they are studying, well after they have passed the 10,000-hour mark. That might be just the first stage of proficiency for some disciplines. Experts are Continuously Learning It’s difficult to claim proficiency as an expert if you are not staying current in your field. The best experts are constantly scouring new research and best practices. Dr. Anders Ericsson observed in his work that "deliberate practice" is an essential element of expertise. His reasoning was that one simply won’t progress as an expert unless they push their limits. Many experts aren’t satisfied unless they are going beyond their comfort zone, opening up new pathways of research, focusing on their weaknesses, and broadening their knowledge and skills through avenues such as peer review, speaking, and teaching. The deliberate practice occurred “at the edge of one’s comfort zone” and involved setting specific goals, focusing on technique, and obtaining immediate feedback from a teacher or mentor. Experts Apply their Knowledge to Share Unique Perspectives While many experts conduct research, simply reciting facts isn't enough. Those who can provide evidence-based perspectives, that objectively accommodate and adapt to new information will have more impact. Expertise is also about developing unique, informed perspectives that challenge the status quo, which can at times be controversial. Experts know that things change. But they don’t get caught up in every small detail in ways that prevent them from seeing the whole picture. They don't immediately rush toward new ideas. They consider historical perspectives and patterns learned from their research that provide more context for what's happening today. And these experts have the patience and wisdom to validate their perspectives with real evidence. That's why expert sources are so valuable for journalists when they research stories. The perspectives they offer are critical to countering the misinformation and uninformed opinions found on social media. Experts Connect with a Broader Audience Many experts are pushing past traditional communication formats, using more creative and visual ways to translate their research into a wider audience. We conducted research with academics in North America and in Europe who are trying to balance their research (seen in traditional peer-reviewed journals) with other work such as blogs, social media, podcasts and conferences such as TEDx - all with the goal to bring their work to a wider audience. While that's an essential part of public service, it pays dividends for the expert and the organization they represent. Experts Are Transparent More than ever, credible experts are in demand. The reason for this is simple. They inspire trust. And the overnight success some have seemingly achieved has come from decades of work in the trenches. They have a proven record that is on display and they make it easy to understand how they got there. They don't mask their credentials or their affiliations as they didn't take shortcuts. They understand that transparency is a critical part of being seen as credible. Experts Don’t Take “Fake It Till You Make It” Shortcuts The phrase “fake it till you make it,” is a personal development mantra that speaks to how one can imitate confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, and realize those qualities in real life. While this pop psychology construct can be helpful for inspiring personal development, it gets problematic when it becomes a strategy for garnering trust with a broader audience to establish some degree of authority - especially when this inexperience causes harm to others who may be influenced by what they see. When self-appointed experts take shortcuts, promoting themselves as authorities on social media without the requisite research or experience, this blurs the lines of expertise and erodes the public trust. Experts Are Generous The best experts are excited about the future of their field, and that translates to helping others become experts too. That's why many openly share their valuable time, through speaking, teaching and mentorship. In the end, they understand that these activities are essential to developing the scale and momentum necessary to tackle the important issues of the day. How Do You Show your Smarts? How do you personally score on this framework? Or if you are in a corporate communications or academic affairs role in an institution how does this help you better understand your experts so you can better develop your internal talent and build your organization’s reputation? As always we welcome your comments as we further refine this and other models related to expertise. Let us know what you think. Helpful Resources Download our Academic Experts and the Media (PDF) This report, based on detailed interviews with some of the most media-experienced academics across the UK and United States draws on their experiences to identify lessons they can share in encouraging other academics to follow in their path. Download the UK Report Here Download the US Report Here The Complete Guide to Expertise Marketing for Higher Education (PDF) Expertise Marketing is the next evolution of content marketing. Build value by mobilizing the hidden people, knowledge and content you already have at your fingertips. This win-win solution not only gives audiences better quality content, but it also lets higher ed organizations show off their smarts. Download Your Copy

Peter Evans

July 21, 2022

7 min

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Beyond the Media Pitch: How to Secure Better Coverage in Today’s Noisy Market

At our webinar earlier this month, we were joined by Wilf Dinnick, a communications and media professional with more than 25 years of global experience as a journalist working in national broadcast, digital and early-stage startups. Wilf has covered major stories for news networks including ABC News, CNN, CBC News and Al Jazeera and is a past winner of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. This vast experience on both sides of the camera has given him a keen understanding of what it takes to secure media coverage in today’s environment. Here are 3 key takeaways you missed: #1 The Odds of your Media Pitch Resulting in Coverage are Disappointingly Low - And the Trend is Not Good Wilf Dinnick discussed the sobering stats from a study of over 400,000 pitches conducted by Propel media that reveal that only ⅓ of emails sent to journalists are opened. But equally disappointing is the fact that only 3% of pitches result in coverage and this trend appears to be continuing. What Dinnick went on to explain is that “journalists see many pitches as an interruption as most fail to clearly demonstrate relevance to the stories they want to publish for their audience. #2 Journalists are Busier than Ever. So You Need to Connect with Them In Places they are Going for Story Ideas and Expert Sources Dinnick also shared some important data that reveals how journalists are spending their time. Where they get their story ideas and how they search for experts. This helps explain the diminishing rate of return on traditional media pitches. For instance, Twitter remains dominant as a platform used by journalists to quickly discover trending stories. So making your story ideas more discoverable with appropriate hashtags on social is an important way to promote your experts in the flow of the conversation as a story is breaking or emerging. Wilf also highlighted the importance of dialling into the daily news cycle by looking in the same areas journalists are going for their ideas. The latest research reveals that journalists find newspapers and magazines most valuable. Why? Sites such as the Washington Post, CNN, BBC, New York Times and Axios are well funded and resourced to develop the longer format, well-researched stories. They often focus on exclusive stories and break important news that is echoed through other outlets. And they set the pace of the news cycle as it echos through regional news outlets where journalists look to localize the story for their audiences. Closely monitoring these sites allows you to be in touch with the key stories and offer clear value to journalists, by offering your experts who can help explain key developments in the context of their research or localize the story for a regional audience. #3 There are Ways to Beat the Odds and Improve your Media Coverage by Following Proven Best Practices When Pitching Despite the poor odds when pitching journalists, there is hope for media relations and PR pros. Dinnick unpacked a number of important best practices that can substantially improve your odds. Drawing on research from a number of media organizations that track journalist engagement, he laid out a number of guidelines that you should be following when putting together your media pitches. Some of these included: Timing Your Pitch Journalists are more receptive to pitches early in the day between the hours of 5am and 11am. This is when the stories are breaking and work is being assigned - and journalists are looking for expert sources. Also, there is evidence that pitching earlier in the week on a Monday or Tuesday yields better results. Keeping it Brief The research Dinnick presented on the profound changes that have been happening in Newsrooms and the overload that journalists are experiencing underscores the importance of being to the point with journalists. That begins with understanding how journalists are spending their day - glued to mobile devices. “This impacts how you need to write subject lines that generate curiosity and fit into mobile devices, given the limited set of characters they can display,” said Dinnick. He also shared stressed research that shows the body copy of a pitch should be under 200 words. Mind the Links Loading a journalist up with lots of links to research, videos, and media coverage in the body copy of your pitch may seem like a good idea to help them evaluative a story idea But this is a no-no. It creates unnecessary clutter and detracts from the key messages you want them to focus on. Instead, journalists report they want as few links as possible. Wilf Dinnick recommends 1-2 links max. It’s important to note that this will present a challenge if you don’t have your content organized into comprehensive expert profiles which include important information that journalists want to see such as past media and speaking appearances, research, publications, education/credentials, affiliations etc. There was a lot to take away from this session which was jam-packed with research and best practices for media relations and PR pros. However, perhaps the most important lesson was how to ”flip” the traditional approach to pitching 180 degrees - starting the pitch process by first developing “owned” content that gets published to your website. As Wilf Dinnick stated, “you have to think like a journalist” as you approach the story ideas you want to pitch. Start with owned content and publish stories that focus on your experts which clearly show them to be relevant and credible while making their work more engaging and human through visual media helps “set the table for the journalist.” If it’s well structured and engaging, it gives journalists the added context they need to immediately understand how your pitch is relatable to their audience. What’s most powerful about this approach is that it helps media relations and PR pros avoid the “earned media trap.” Instead of being overly focused on coverage, we can think more strategically about the value we bring to the organization as storytellers to create quality “owned” content that boosts search engine (SEO) authority and PageRank as well as site engagement with visitors to boost reputation, relationships and revenues. It was clear from the many examples shared by healthcare organizations, universities and associations that this approach is where the real gains can be made. And how media relations and PR pros can show more tangible value to their organizations. Stay tuned for more on this topic of owned content and how it helps improve your media coverage as we explore this in our next post. To see the entire webinar, make sure to sign up for BrightTalk to watch the full webinar here.

Peter Evans

June 24, 2022

5 min

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Expertise Marketing and Content Marketing - Is There a Difference?

We often get asked the question about how Content Marketing compares to Expertise Marketing. It’s ironic that still to this day many of our academic clients don’t refer to what they do as “content marketing.” But corporate customers are well acquainted with the importance of developing content to build reputation, relationships and revenue. Adding to the confusion are all the names that are bantered about by marketing departments and agencies - There’s inbound marketing popularized by companies such as Hubspot. And there are more bespoke “Thought Leadership” programs that are often developed by outside agencies such as Weber Shandwick and Edelman. While there are a lot of common elements to these programs there are some important differences that we focus on when developing and launching Expertise Marketing programs with our institutional and corporate clients. Here’s a deeper dive to help you better understand the value of Expertise Marketing. Introducing Expertise Marketing Expertise marketing is the practice of making the knowledge and skills of your human resources more visible to your partners and audiences. It draws attention to the value that your people can bring as brand ambassadors and strategically leverages the work your experts are doing to tell a more personal story. In many cases, expertise marketing can also be used to showcase your strengths in research and innovation. Creating a stronger digital presence, expertise marketing more effectively uses your channels to connect with audiences such as media, customers, partners and donors. It builds a sense of trust with your customers and above all else, it helps establish your reputation as an industry leader. ex•per•tise mar•ket•ing 1. The practice of collectively promoting an organization’s experts as brand ambassadors to demonstrate their skills or knowledge. 2. Best practices to publish and connect The Value of Expertise Marketing Reputation - Positions research, client work, thought leadership perspectives and achievements in the context of relevant topics that are in the news. Market Awareness - Expertise marketing makes it easier for key audiences to find expert content and people in search engines and on the organization’s website. Audience Engagement - Provides more intuitive search features for visible content which can be expanded to include assets such as video, social, and publications to drive richer conversations with audiences. Metrics on performance in areas related to expert development, content contribution and audience engagement page views and inquiries can be tracked. Demand Generation -  Increased number of direct leads/ inquiries from audiences such as: Customers/Students Industry Partners Alumni Donors Media New Employee Recruits Conference Organizers Talent - Better engage stakeholders, researchers & subject-matter experts in the development and distribution of content while improving recruitment and retention of talent. Internal Collaboration - Better coordinate the knowledge and resources across internal communications teams and other departments as they engage experts. Provide a faster, more efficient way to generate content for breaking news and events. Content Contribution - Increase the size of the organization’s digital footprint by aggregating more content and distributing it contextually to multiple websites and third-party databases. Efficiency - Help employees get their jobs done faster and more efficiently. Enable them to find information faster, speed up internal processes and foster collaboration among people in multiple locations. Leverage Current and Future Infrastructure - Properly integrated, new technology investments should integrate seamlessly to leverage existing/proposed infrastructure such as content management systems (such as WordPress™) and marketing automation systems (such as Hubspot) How is Expertise Marketing Different from Content Marketing? A More Human Approach: People buy from people. That’s why content that is more personalized and attributed to specific experts who are well-identified as expert sources is far more trusted than most company-sponsored content. A More Collaborative Process that Engages Employees: A more structured “win-win” model empowers experts to contribute their knowledge. Expertise marketing is a proven way to build culture and celebrate diversity which assists with talent retention and recruitment. An Efficient Way to Create More Content to Boost SEO & Website Traffic: Engaging your experts creates a larger hub of “owned” content that is proven to boost PageRank in search engines and site traffic. Expert content is used by organizations to enhance their “About Us” page, staff/faculty/physician directories, newsroom pages, research pages and speakers bureaus. Optimized Content Formats Better Connect with Audiences: A variety of short format, long format and visual content formats (such as expert profiles, blogs, Q&A and videos) are designed to engage specific audiences at various stages of the customer journey. Improved Calls to Action & Analytics Boost Demand Generation & Leads/Inquiries: Experts become more approachable as “lead magnets” that generate measurable inbound opportunities, avoiding common issues of lost customer leads due to poor processes and workflow. You might be surprised at how much value expertise marketing can bring to your organisation. The chances are, that the time you are currently spending on ineffective content marketing strategies will be greatly reduced with a redefined focus on expertise marketing. By putting the focus back on the skills and relevance of your experts, as people, you're not only making them more visible but also establishing your brand reputation which will simultaneously generate more leads and increase efficiency.

Peter Evans Justin Shaw

May 31, 2022

4 min

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A Big Week in the Measurement of Expertise: How the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) Results Will Impact Universities

How should we measure faculty expertise? This week the UK provides its answer to this question via its highly significant and formal (government-directed) assessment of academic research - which grades academic teams on a scale of 1* to 4* for their ability to deliver, share and create impact globally outstanding research. This process is known as the REF (the Research Excellence Framework) - and the results will be publicly released this Thursday (12th May) with universities themselves finding out how they’ve performed in advance today (Monday 9th May). The process was last carried out 8 years ago and has been delayed by a year due to the pandemic. Why is the Research Excellence Framework (REF) Significant? The Research Excellence Framework steers the level of UK public funds - allocated via research councils - that will be invested in research for each academic department (or so-called “Unit of Assessment”) for the next few years. It is also a way of comparing performance against other universities that are offering similar research expertise, and of strengthening (or weakening) global research reputations. During the next three days, UK universities will be digging into the detail of their REF gradings and the accompanying feedback. There will be some very nervous university leaders and research heads delving into why this peer-assessed review of their research has not gone as well as they expected and why their percentages in each of the four grade areas have dropped - or even been given the “unclassified” career-damaging stamp. How are the REF Scores for Universities Determined? The measurement process is based on three aspects: Quality of outputs (such as: publications, performances, and exhibitions), Impact beyond academia The environment that supports research The preparation, participation, and assessment process takes a massive amount of time, attention and energy. Last time (2014) there were 1,911 submissions to review. Research teams, designated REF leaders and senior staff will have spent long hours across many months preparing their submissions and making sure they are presenting hard evidence and the best case possible to meet the above criteria at the highest possible level. There are 34 subject areas that are covered in the latest REF - and three tiers of expert panels (some with about 20 or more senior academics, international subject leaders, and research users) will have reviewed each submission and compared notes to come to decisions. How do these Key Categories within the REF Contribute to the Rating for a University? The Research Excellence Framework is actually an intensive and highly important approach to expert assessment. These are the key factors and their definitions (with the assigned weighting of each of the criteria in steering final grades): Outputs (60%): the quality of submitted research outputs in terms of their ‘originality, significance and rigour’, with reference to international research quality standards. This element will carry a weighting of 60 per cent in the overall outcome awarded to each submission. Impact (25%): the ‘reach and significance’ of impacts on the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life that were underpinned by excellent research conducted in the submitted unit. This element carries a weighting of 25 per cent. Environment (15%): the research environment in terms of its ‘vitality and sustainability’, including the approach to enabling impact from its research, and its contribution to the vitality and sustainability of the wider discipline or research base. This element accounts for 15 per cent. Taking a Closer Look at the Categories - Are We Focusing Enough on Research Impact? In 2014 a formal review was carried out in order to improve and evolve the REF process which made a number of recommendations. Most notably the weighting for “impact” was increased by five percent, with “outputs” being reduced by the same percentage. This is certainly a recognition that the external contribution difference that research makes is more important - but is it enough? Should there be greater emphasis on the return on investment from a beneficiaries and user experience perspective? Many argue that academic research should retain a strong element of ‘”blue sky” experimentation - where outright evidence of impact may take several years (even decades) and so can’t demonstrate such immediate value. A particularly notable benefit of the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect of this in REF deadlines has allowed the extended assessment period for ‘proof of impact’ from 1 August 2013 to 31 December 2020. This is an extension from the previous end date of 31 July 2020. The extension has been put in place to enable case studies affected by, or focusing on the response to, COVID-19 to be assessed in REF 2021. Going back to the original question: how should we measure faculty expertise? It will be interesting to monitor the views and responses of university leaders and faculty members at the end of this week as to whether they feel that - standing back from it all - this UK-centric method of measurement is the best that can be done, a neat compromise or isn’t really what we really need. For more information on the Research Excellence Framework visit www.ref.ac.uk/ Justin Shaw Justin is UK and Ireland Development Director for ExpertFile and Chief Higher Education Consultant at Communications Management. An authority on University strategy and communications, he has worked in and with leadership teams at UK universities for over 30 years. In his role he has advised universities on how to promote their expertise and on communications strategies related to the REF.

Justin Shaw

May 09, 2022

4 min

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Levity Aside, the 2022 White House Correspondents Dinner Reminded Us of Our Mission

As expected, Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” did a fantastic job presiding over last Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. True to form, Noah didn’t hold back, delivering some clever comedy that poked fun at everyone - both on the right and left. No one, including President Biden, was spared. What’s notable is that it’s been a long time since the WHCA event was attended by the President. Six years to be exact. And while it provided a great platform to lighten the mood and share some laughs, it was the message on the role that a free press plays in a civil society that Noah spoke to that stood out. His speech also reminded us of the important role our university and corporate clients have in helping national and local media find and connect with credible experts for their stories. Here are some highlights of the speech: Noah reminded us just how fortunate we are to live in a society where the media plays a critical role in our democracy. “So as we sit in this room tonight, I really hope we all remember what the real purpose of this evening is. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, we dress nice. Yes, the people eat, they drink, and have fun. But the reason we are here is to honor and celebrate the Fourth Estate and what you stand for — an additional check and balance that holds power to account. And gives voice to those who otherwise wouldn’t have one." Noah went on to focus on the importance of local media: "I’m not just talking about CNN or Fox or any of the other major organizations. I’m talking about everyone.” “Every single one of you, whether you like it or not, is a bastion of democracy,” Then, Noah went on to underscore the importance of a free press by addressing the Ukrainian invasion and the way Russia has violently suppressed its media outlets and free speech. Noah said: “If you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities — how meaningful it is — look no further than what’s happening in Ukraine. Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what’s really happening. In America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Even if it makes your viewers or your readers uncomfortable. You understand how amazing that is? I stood here tonight and I made fun of the president of the United States and I’m going to be fine. Do you really understand what a blessing it is? Maybe it’s happened for so long, it might slip your mind. It’s a blessing.” Noah then reminded us that we all have responsibilities by asking everyone in the room this important question: “Ask yourself this question. If Russian journalists who are losing their livelihoods and their freedom for daring to report on what their own government is doing — if they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions, if they had basically what you have, would they be using it in the same that you do? Ask yourself that question every day because you have one of the most important roles in the world.” It was a very fitting end to an event that has in a lighthearted way since 1920 allowed us to laugh at our differences and come together across the aisle. I hope as you begin your week, you will remember that while the news is a business, our role in educating the public, countering mis/disinformation and speaking truth to power is something we can’t take for granted. President Biden in his WHCD remarks said it best: “I mean this from the bottom of my heart, that you, the free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century,” he said. “You are the guardians of the truth.” A link to the full broadcast of Trevor Noah’s remarks at the 2022 White House Correspondents Association is here: 

Peter Evans

May 04, 2022

3 min

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Expect More from Your Experts: How a “Faculty Audit” can help Universities more strategically engage their faculty members

With an estimated 1.5-million faculty in the US and a near 50,000 growth in UK-based academics in the last decade (to 225,000), universities and colleges have a whole range of interests and expertise on offer. In fact, despite rumours to the contrary, academia is a large and growing global ‘industry’. If you’re responsible for external relations, communications, marketing, civic engagement, knowledge exchange - or any other aspect of external engagement or “connectedness” in a university or college - then the ability to choose which faculty experts you selectively promote and publicise can be a very tough assignment. I’ve had first-hand experience with this. I was once in that very position - trying to keep up with the opportunities and the expectations afforded by 800 academics at just the one mid-sized UK institution where I worked. With the benefit of that firsthand experience and having since worked with more than 100 higher education institutions in the UK, Europe and North America, here are a few observations and also a few tips on how to organize your expertise: Approach #1: The Focus on Expertise Clusters An approach taken by some universities nowadays is to promote their expertise as a group of “grand challenges” or “beacons of excellence” - drawing together as many areas of research expertise under (usually) three or four headings. While identifying “token clusters” of expertise for focus and prioritisation may seem logical, this approach doesn’t really work. It may help with internal politics but it fails to generate enough precision to be relevant to various communities such as the media and industry. Approach #2: Selectively Promoting Key Experts One trap that universities can also fall into is to focus on a small group of academics who appear to be more suitable to promote. The reasoning for this approach is often driven by the need to have a manageable number for internal communications/press office staff to work with. The easy route to take is to just work with academics who are more keen to work with comms staff in promoting their work and who are already at ease in speaking to the media. Selection of experts on these factors, while important, isn’t the optimal way to build up the profile for the institution with key audiences. First off, this approach often doesn’t yield the diversity that audiences such as journalists and potential student and faculty recruits want to see represented. This approach will also miss the mark if it just plays to popular disciplines or hot topics. Being more inclusive to promote a wider range of disciplines and specialized topics is better value all round. Approach #3: The Faculty “Expertise Audit” I’ve seen institutions make many mistakes in positioning their faculty as experts, given it’s a proven way to differentiate brand, build profile and reputation. That’s why I’ve started to work with several universities on what I refer to as a “faculty expertise audit”. This brings a more structured process that helps prioritize key areas of research expertise and identify specialist experts. The audit also looks at the resources and overall capacity that universities have available to support an “expertise marketing” program that optimizes all these elements to significantly boost performance. Start with The Business Case for Expertise At the heart of this more structured, targeted audit approach is ensuring you are generating “return-on-investment” and “value-for-effort.” A good starting point is to ask: Where is the budget coming from? Where is current and expected demand for your programs? When starting this assessment, you have to think longer than a year out. Instead, look very hard and in detail at the next three to five years (the typical cycle of research investment and university strategies) and identify which expertise is most likely to solve the problems and consequential explorations that governments, industry, benefactors/donors, and funding agencies will want to support. I’m not saying that research areas without such sizable levels of predicted investment should be ignored - far from it - but we are in a competitive climate and universities now have to secure ‘orders’ (for applied and contracted expertise) that will ensure institutional sustainability and success. In turn, that success will allow investment in other areas that are socially vital but financially a weaker bet as regarded by funding sources. Having proven where research funding is most available, pressing and externally directed, then the audit is designed to identify and match the institution’s research talent to these requirements. These audits involve shortlisting, enlisting and then coaching the appropriate academic experts. The best results come from one-to-one sessions with academics which create buy-in and yield a more detailed marketing plan to leverage your experts. While more inclusive, this is an efficient process designed to create a “shared roadmap” for where the university and the academic both want to take their expertise. A large part of this roadmap then covers off other important activities such as creating a more discoverable and engaging online presence with enriched academic profiles that perform far better than the traditional “faculty directory.” Keeping online academic profiles fresh, content-rich, jargon-free, and compelling makes the job of expert ‘mining’ so much easier. Developing a sustained program of content with an organized lead generation process is also necessary. These extra steps are where many universities miss the mark. The result is a significant loss of inbound opportunities for research grants, consulting revenues, academic collaborations as well as local and global media coverage. I recently spoke with a Vice Chancellor of a prominent UK University who admitted that they as an institution deserved a failing grade when it came to promoting their faculty research achievements, saying that he “doubted any of their academics would be happy with the way their work was being promoted online.” This is an important aspect of the faculty audit. As a consultative process, it is non-threatening and we’re listening to staff and academics. That not only enriches the information the University has to promote its brand better, it also helps to enlist the support of the academic community who see that the university cares and that it is getting their input to put together a plan – both for the university and for individual academics. The academic is happy (they understand the value for them personally and for their institution); the University is happy (it is able to focus and prioritise its expertise in an evidence-based manner), and Communications and press office staff are happy (they have so more to work with in connecting the work of the University to a variety of local and global communities). The Benefits of A Faculty Audit Having completed many of these, I’ve seen very clearly, the results of a well run Faculty Audit process that without exception yield an excellent return on investment. Here are just some of the benefits to consider: Greater Insights: Gain a deeper understanding of the hidden strengths and opportunities within your academic ranks. Better Planning: A detailed report from a Faculty Audit enables a more strategic approach to planning where faculty research and expertise can support various programs within the University - such as industry engagement, media coverage and recruitment. Building Trust: When conducted by a third-party, a Faculty Audit is seen as more credible and less prone to perceptions of internal bias. More Engaged Faculty: Increased collaboration with faculty is gained through a more consultative process that builds “shared awareness” and enables more proactive support of their research. Increased Capacity: Producing more proactive content with faculty yields better results in terms of media coverage, research engagements, etc. Demonstrate Diversity: A better understanding of expertise that goes beyond the “usual suspects” to engaging a more diverse set of faculty to promote the University. News Coverage: Positioning your faculty and their research in a more relevant way aligns with the interests of the outside world and what's on the mind of outsiders. Less Stress: A more proactive, well structured plan helps everyone to synchronise activities better versus scrambling too much to meet deadlines in the “here and now.” Is a Faculty Audit Right for Your Institution? Here are some key considerations when evaluating the value of a Faculty Audit for your institution. You are ideally suited to undertake a faculty expertise audit if: You have a stretched workload where there's little capacity for proactive comms. You're tending to turn to the same academics for expert commentary in the media or elsewhere. You tend to get complaints (or mild mutterings) about not supporting academics enough. You don't have time to get to know the range of academic experts in your institution - especially new arrivals or eager early career academics. You've adopted an 'inside out approach' rather than one that engages with the interests of the outside world and what's on the mind of outsiders. There's weak management of expectations with the academic community - and a need for clarity and shared pathways for publicity. You're operating too much in the here and now and don't have the time to plan for future events, milestones and opportunities. You want to be more strategic in your comms and engagement - and make a real difference via attracting interest, income and investment. You don't have an integrated approach to comms (where content can be repurposed and recycled). You want more global reach and presence and can exploit digital tools to enable this. Additional Resources Academic Experts and the Media (PDF) This report, based on detailed interviews with some of the most media-experienced academics across the UK and United States draws on their experiences to identify lessons they can share in encouraging other academics to follow in their path. Download the UK Report Here Download the US Report Here The Complete Guide to Expertise Marketing for Higher Education (PDF) Expertise Marketing is the next evolution of content marketing. Build value by mobilizing the hidden people, knowledge and content you already have at your fingertips. This win-win solution not only gives audiences better quality content, but it also lets higher ed organizations show off their smarts. Download Your Copy Click Here for Additional Resources

Justin Shaw

April 14, 2022

7 min

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