Maybe you think that research is a very technical or complicated discipline. Yes, it is! However, since I started working with research projects, I’ve realised that exactly the same communication rules apply here as in shoes, cosmetics or insurance. Basically, if you want your organisation or project to succeed, you have to think as methodically as possible.
These tips and trick can help you create a great communication and dissemination plan for your project, and they will help to promote your company and services.
1.It’s very loud out there!
There’s so much information out there that it’s overwhelming. This means that people are pretty immune to any new information, so you have to be very precise in delivering the right message to the right people at the right moment. If it doesn’t work, no problem! Try again! Try in a different way! It’s so loud out there that it might take a while to be noticed.
2. No one cares!
The first thing that you have to understand in communication is that no one really cares. You’re dreaming if you think that you can announce an amazing innovation, tool or service and people will start reacting right away. It can happen… but then you must be extremely lucky! In normal situations, no one cares! And that’s why instead of coming up with an innovation, tool or service, you need to come up with a solution that helps solve problem X. Read the next point…
3. Offer a solution! And… don’t speak about yourself!
So many presentations and information materials start with “we are X and Y, we propose Z”. No one cares! You need to come up with a solution that your target audience is interested in, and you should demonstrate how this solution will help them change their business / lives / work, etc.! It’s like being on a date! If you want to start a relationship… no one likes people who are constantly saying “me, me, me”! Don’t make the same mistake!
4. Answer all the Ws & H!
Whatever you do, try to answer all the important questions: Who? Why? When? What? How? Of course, the order depends on what and where you’re communicating. In any case, don’t forget to include the answers to all these questions and, if possible, provide a link to a resource with more information…
5. Start with “Why”!
I just love the concept promoted by Simon Sinek! I would advise you to start thinking with “Why?” about any communication activity! Like “Why should anybody care?”, “Why should this be promoted?”, “Why would media like to publish it?” Find answers to these “Whys”.
This will help you find a strong message that might stand out in the crowd and attract the attention of stakeholders, potential clients or other interested parties.
6. Always imagine that they will say “So what?”
Imagine that you’re about to create a great message for your communication campaign or that you’re about to give a speech! To every key statement you make, imagine that the sceptical audience will say “So what!?” It’s actually the thing that always happens, but we just ignore it. This might sound frustrating… it is… that’s why you always have to look for added value for the audience so that instead of “So what?!”, they will say “OK, keep going…”
7. Create an amazing website
By amazing website, I don’t mean that it should be expensive or technically complicated. It just has to be modern, easy to use and relevant to what you do! If you’re trying to save some money and you’re living with an outdated website, you’re definitely risking your reputation. There are plenty of information sources that will help you to design a great website for your organisation or project.
8. Pay attention to SEO
Why would you need to think of SEO? Let’s think logically. What do you do when you need an item of information? I would bet Googling is one of the top 3 things. Am I right? So you have to identify the most important keywords for your organisation or project and try to make your website appear on the first page of the search results. By the way, you might have an advantage if you apply this technique because research area is really a less competitive sector than insurance or shoes. Especially if you care about specific technologies or services. Being ranked in the top 5 results should be an easy game.
Just for your information, when planning the HATCH portal, we asked the target audience about the ways they search for space-related information. Most of them told us they use Google.
9. Select your social media carefully
Everyone says that you have to be on social media. As a representative of the communication sector, I can confirm that this is very important. But you need to carefully select which social media you’re going to use and how you will communicate. It’s possible that for some organisations or projects social media is more useful for listening to what others are saying than posting promotional material. Of course, you need to post something, but again, think of “Why should anybody care?” and “So what?!”
10. There are more colours than just blue, white and black in space
OK, it’s clear – everyone associates the space sector with blue or black and white! Also, other sectors can be traditionally associated with particular colours that everybody use. Introducing other (rather than traditional colours used by everyone) can help you stand out from the crowd. Use more creative solutions to stand out.
11. Create more videos!
Videos are trending at the moment. People prefer to see video content! Even if you can’t create video content all the time, try to plan it from time to time, especially if you’re communicating on social media. Also, videos about specific technologies and services are popular on YouTube. If you create one, make sure that you include all the important keywords so that people who are looking for this content can find it.
12. Don’t send introverts to expositions
Your introverted team members can be amazing professionals. However, you will gain the most out of the networking events of expos if you send an extrovert. Also, you have to make sure that the person at the stand won’t just stand there and wait for someone to come and ask something. That’s just a waste of time and money! You need to have an amazing plan – how you will attract people, what you will offer, what your message will be. You just can’t improvise on the spot. This would be a disaster without any results!
13. Planning your expo
When attending expos and networking events, I’ve again seen that people are too focused on themselves. Everyone wants to offer something, everyone is sitting at their stand and waiting for miracles that never happen! Plan your expo appearance in a different way! Start with “Why should anybody care?” Find a solution that you will offer to the participants. If you can see who the participants are beforehand, and if your solution is very specific, you can tailor your whole message to specific organisations. Of course, it will take some effort, but in this way you will increase your chances of being heard, understood and considered.
14. Answer emails
I don’t know why, but since I’ve been in the research and innovation sector, I’ve had the feeling that there are certain types of people particular to this sector. They never answer their emails, or they answer them only after a few months. So basically, just answering an email within one or two working days could make a massive difference. I’ve also sent messages via contact forms on websites. These messages were never answered either. This has almost never happened to me outside in the business environment. All my emails have been answered within a few hours or maximum two days. My conclusion – answer all your emails! You never know. It might start with a question and develop into a partnership or very useful contacts.
15. Try to appear wherever possible
If you want to commercialize your solution, it should be known. It just has to be popular! To make this happen, a good approach would be to appear on as many resources as possible. Gaining popularity will make your solution, organisation and professionals look much better and more credible. Search for media and other resources – blogs, webpages, projects, etc. – with whom you can partner. Of course, you need to come up with a win-win offer. You shouldn’t propose a logo exchange as it was done some 15 years ago. You need something more sophisticated and useful.
16. Create events!
Create your own events! It’s not that difficult. Basically, the event can be created around almost anything – testing technology, launching a service, a consortium meeting, project milestone, etc. When there is a reason for an event, think of the maximum ways to use it in your communication and publicity. Depending on the context and content you might publish a press release, organise a webinar or seminar, create social media posts, shoot a video, do a photo session, invite students to the event, invite stakeholders or the advisory board, send a newsletter, etc. You just need to come up with some creative tricks around the regular event, and you can make it amazing and appealing to a larger public.
17. Use tools to monitor the success of your communication
There are many different tools that you can use to monitor if your communication activities are performing well, who the interested parties are, etc. so you can adjust and improve your activities in order to reach better results. Use Google Analytics to analyse the traffic on your website, use the statistics proposed by social media, use the link shorteners with statistics to see which pieces of content are performing better, etc.
18. Make sure your content works on all devices
You have to make sure that your website or other communication tools that you create are working on all devices – laptops, smartphones, tablets. Non-responsive design of the website or other content that you publish can spoil all your communication efforts.
19. Make sure it’s possible to contact you
I already mentioned that lots of emails remain unanswered. However, sometimes some potential partners, clients or other stakeholders might not contact you simply because they can’t find the information on your website. Make sure that the contact information is easily accessible and… that somebody will answer it.
20. Be more personal
People are more willing to consume content – read articles, watch videos, look at photos, etc. – if they include people. If it’s possible to demonstrate the people behind the innovations. Show how they work. This type of content is more inspiring and interesting than just demonstrating technologies. Try to tell stories from the perspective of a human being even if it is all about research!