Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Knowledge mobilization

You've got a great product or service, or information that could save people's lives, or you need help to change society for the better. But no one seems to be interested. Sound familiar?

I'm currently assisting with an online Master's level course, helping students to push their research beyond the walls of academia. These students, most of whom do not have any background in public relations or journalism, are expected to get attention from the public for cultural studies projects. The projects are phenomenal - interesting, creative, timely - but as many NGOs, not-for-profits, and small companies have learned the hard way, having something wonderful or important to say doesn't mean people will listen.

You have to know how to talk to the media.

The professor for this course often asks "what's the point of doing all of this wonderful work if it just winds up gathering dust in a professor's file system?" He calls it "knowledge mobilization" and in the spirit of knowledge mobilization I'm taking my resources out of the restricted confines of that course, and sharing them with the interwebs.

My top tip: Spend some time thinking from the perspective of the public. Why do they care about what you’re doing? Not why should they care. Every day we are all bombarded by more information than we can digest, so you'll get better results if you tap into an interest that’s already there. Once you’ve got that figured out, keep it in mind as you write your articles, media pitches, tweets, Facebook posts, and so on.

A good place to start: A reporter’s job (and yours)  

If you want to write an article for a paper/magazine yourself:

If you’re looking for media coverage, try these resources:

UPDATE: I've just come across this article at Spin Sucks, which covers a totally different approach to pitching. If you're not just pitching as a one-off, creating a relationship with journalists is key, and this article has a novel approach for doing so.