Communications Toolkit for Academics

Telling Your Story

Step 1: Setting Goals and Objectives

Before you begin communicating, take time to think about your communications goals and objectives. Do you want to increase awareness and interest in your work? Do you want to increase funding?  Do you enjoy working with media and seeing your work published?

We also understand that many academics feel uncomfortable with self-promotion. In her book, Making Peace with Self Promotion, author Liz Neely explains that “Refusing to promote yourself is not taking the moral high ground, it is self-sabotage. Done right, self-promotion is acting in service of your ideas, not just clamoring for affirmation. Find your voice, focusing on great content, and positioning it effectively can create positive spirals to benefit your work and your career.”

Neely goes on to dispel the following arguments:

ARGUMENT: I don’t want to annoy people. 
TRUTH: There is a difference between positive disclosure and bragging. Positive disclosure is modest in nature, with true facts. Bragging is aggressive and competitive. Stick to the former.

ARGUMENT: I want my work to speak for itself.
TRUTH: Undivided attention no longer exists. The public makes decisions not alone, but based on the influence of their networks.

ARGUMENT: I don’t want to overpromise.
TRUTH: Then don’t. Whether it’s a blog, tweet, or column, not every idea is perfect - sometimes it’s about getting feedback.

Be Strategic

Being strategic in your communication will help you achieve better results. For more information on goals and objectives, please visit Strategic Science Communication created by John Besley, associate professor and Ellis N. Brandt Chair in Public Relations, College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU.

Once you determine your goals and objectives, you can prepare to communicate beyond peers and journals and create tactics to reach your objectives. 

Step 2:  Figuring Out the “So What?”

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