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Abby Klanecky: Helping Scientists Tell Stories

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Sharing wants a room in your house

One rapidly changing perception is that only the PR people in your company or the C-suite folks should communicate with the rest of the world. That notion is swiftly falling away. Why? Because anyone looking can see the entire workforce is already in conversation with a whole lot of people.

We’ve been tracing social technologies backward to see where they bump against command and control strategies. We’re starting to see a sort of containerization of messages: we see multiple channels of communication goodness overlayed and overlapping through the relationships already present in our employees and partners. This effort is not about exploiting those relationships by pushing out selling messages (always a disaster with social media)…but simply recognizing there is mission-driving energy available when we help our people tell their story in their way.

That’s partly what is behind Abby Klanecky’s presentation about her work with Dow scientists. Part of her work is training in how to talk about science in a way anyone can understand. Part of her work is helping these scientists see exactly what is at stake with broadening the scope of their communication. Part of her work seems intent on aiding exploration—through involving others. Attaching social media wings to research may pay back in lots of ways. Part of Ms. Klanecky’s plan also has to do with connecting scientists with students—ensuring future researchers are queued. See her entire presentation on Vimeo here. Slides here.

I like Ms. Klanecky’s approach because of how it broadens an organization’s mission. More people become key people. I also like it because it gets at the changing nature and opportunity of communication today.

Say, for instance, you are a university and you just built a multi-million dollar research lab. It’s entirely unique and there is nothing like it in the world. In this research lab you intend to partner with industry. You will not share industry secrets, but you will help deepen the conversation about the processes and technologies used. In your communication strategy you will focus on producing research and presenting that research through the traditional channels of publishing research papers and speaking at conferences. But what if, in addition to those traditional strategies, you trained your scientists, researchers, even those in charge of the lab to locate and engage with people interested in this very thing?  And what if your employees found the social media aspect actually sharpened their questions and their research communication? And what if the result was genuine collaboration that helped further cement your lab and universities leadership position?

Training helps make this happen: training in communicating with an awareness of legal, regulatory and industry guidelines. These must be clearly communicated. But the most important thing is setting the expectation from the beginning so that researchers are already thinking along these lines.

The end result may look a lot like humans speaking to humans rather than PR people unspooling an endless stream of press releases.



Hat tip to Ward Tongen (@wtongen)

Written by kirkistan

February 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

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