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Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 1 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 2 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 3 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 4 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 5 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 6 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 7 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 8 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 9 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 10 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 11 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 12 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 13 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 14 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 15 Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars Slide 16
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Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars

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A short presentation by Adam D. Thierer offering tips and best practices to aspiring policy scholars looking to develop their personal brand and be more effective in public policy discussions.

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Tips & Best Practices for Aspiring Policy Scholars

  1. 1. Tips & Best Practices for Scholars Adam Thierer Senior Research Fellow Mercatus Center at George Mason University Last updated October 2021 1
  2. 2. Outline of talk 1.Content best practices 2.Marketing best practices 3.Personal best practices 2
  3. 3. The 2 key takeaways: 1. We live in a world of information overload and extremely limited attention spans, and so… 2. No matter how important you think your work is, you have to convince others to pay attention. 3
  4. 4. Content best practices 4
  5. 5. Never bury the lede • So, get your key point up-front no matter what it is you’re doing (opeds, papers, speeches, testimony, and even social media). • As you begin any project, write down your thesis or key takeaway and make sure it is in the first few lines of your publication or remarks. • And then repeat that point at the end to drive it home. Do this in all your writing and speaking. Make it a habit of mind. • Lists are your friend! People always remember lists. They love Top 3, Top 5, Top 10 lists. I begin almost every speech and testimony by saying, “There are 3 things I want you to remember about this issue,” and then wrap up to briefly reiterating them. People immediately write them down. It’s like a magic power. 5
  6. 6. 6 Lists, lists, lists!
  7. 7. Repeat, repeat, repeat! • To reiterate: people are really busy and have very limited time to devote you and your positions. • So, never be ashamed to repeat what you’ve said before. • Just because you said something brilliant once doesn’t mean anyone heard you the first time around, or that they remember it. • This is the #1 problem most policy analysts & academics suffer from. • Repurpose your work and publish variations constantly. Use a modular approach. • Think of your work like Legos that can be stacked in many different ways. • Every product you produce is really multiple products that can be aggregated, disaggregated, and then re-aggregated in different ways and in different formats. • Don’t be afraid to self-plagiarize. If you spent a lot of time coming up with brilliant arguments and excellent messaging, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Reuse your key arguments and talking points again and again. Hammer them home. 7
  8. 8. Range of Policy Outputs Informal / Short Formal/Long Blog Posts, Tweets, Multimedia Oped, Press release, or L.T.E. Long-form (magazine) article Legislative testimony Agency testimony or Public interest comment Book chapter or Monograph / Primer Working paper or Journal article Books or Special reports
  9. 9. 9 Informal / High volume Formal / Low volume Informal / High volume Tweets / Emails / Multimedia Blogging / Newsletters / Event talks Opeds / Long-form essays Testimony / Filings Whitepapers / Journal articles Book chapters Book Book Chapters Whitepapers / Journal articles Testimony / Filings Opeds / Long-form essays Blogging / Newsletters / Event talks Tweets / Emails / Multimedia Rinse, wash, repeat: My ‘hourglass strategy’ Start small, go big, then go small again to spread the idea far and wide
  10. 10. Marketing best practices 10
  11. 11. Build your own brand & know how to target your audience • Think of yourself (and your ideas) as a brand that needs to be promoted and then be your own advertising agency. • Don’t wait for others to promote you; promote yourself. Every scholar should do their own outreach, particularly to the academy, contacts they have built up over the years, Cap Hill, Executive Branch, press, etc. This can complement efforts by outreach and communications departments. • Have lists of people that you want to push your work out to. If you quote someone in a paper, journal article, book, or article, highlight it and send it to them. This greatly increases the chances they will cite you and your work in the future. • Stay active in as much social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, etc.) as you can tolerate. • In particular, use social media to constantly remind people of relevant work you have done when you are at other events or even just listening to other speeches. • Use multimedia to communicate your message in creative ways beyond boring slide shows (e.g., YouTube, podcasts, or other video and audio services. Even animated videos can help). 11
  12. 12. Plan ahead & try to be a first-mover • Be first out of the gate. There is a huge value in being first out with commentary when your topic hits the news; that value drops rapidly if you are second and third out of the gate. • “Tease” your work. While working on paper or new project, alert relevant parties it is coming; seek their input. Also consider doing a couple “teaser” blog posts or short essays alerting others that your paper is coming. • Get to know the “connectors” in your space (i.e., the people who know everybody in your circles and have a huge following) and get your work on their radar screen. 12
  13. 13. Personal best practices 13
  14. 14. Get organized • Create your own profession website under your own name. • Start a reverse chronological listing of ALL your work. • Post all your major publications on major document hosting sites. • Ex: SSRN, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, & on your personal site. • Tag your work. Good SEO (search engine optimization) is vital to making your work easier to find. Use embedded keywords (take the 20 -30 most important keywords in your document and then paste them in the “properties” or “keywords” section of your Word documents, PDFs, SSRN uploads, and blog posts.) • Develop a good system of organizing your work. Keep hyperlinked lists of your major publications to easily repurpose elsewhere. • Use organizational tools to organize your research and retrieve it quickly in the future. • Ex: Evernote (web page clipping service) and Dropbox (cloud-based document storage that syncs with all your computers & devices). It helps to develop a sensible filing taxonomy to organize all your work. • Develop talking points files for major issues you cover and need to remember your main points in an instant in case you get random media or policymaker calls and can’t remember everything you wrote 5 years ago on a topic. 14
  15. 15. De-clutter your life & focus on what’s important • Find your “magic hour.” Different people work better at different parts of the day. • I get more quality writing done between 9 – 10am each day than I do most of the rest of the day. • Whatever your “magic hour” is, make it sacred and block out all other distractions to maximize your productivity when you are at peak output potential. • Learn which communications to ignore. Do all those emails or social media messages have to be answered right away (or at all)? • As important as it is for you to engage with others across multiple mediums, it is also important to figure out who and what can be safely ignored so that you can actually get some work done! • Learn how to say NO! The most important way to get things done is to identify what you shouldn’t be doing at all. You’re only human and can’t make everyone happy. • If you try to be a jack-of-all-trades, you’ll end up being an expert at nothing in particular. 15
  16. 16. So, in the spirit of this presentation, remember the 2 key takeaways: 1. We live in a world of information overload and extremely limited attention spans, and so… 2. No matter how important you think your work is, you have to convince others to pay attention. 16

A short presentation by Adam D. Thierer offering tips and best practices to aspiring policy scholars looking to develop their personal brand and be more effective in public policy discussions.

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