Peer-reviewed publications are an important means of establishing knowledge and trust within the scientific community. In many ways, these papers can be considered a form of content marketing, in which scientists share valuable ideas and information in exchange for credibility and thought leadership in the field.
The challenge is that in their format, peer-reviewed papers are too long and technical to engage people outside of that highly specialized field. Many companies therefore view publication as the end goal, and accept that it won’t be accessible to some of their audience.
In truth, it’s only the beginning — it‘s time for science marketers and content marketing to shine.
Below we outline how to successfully re-purpose your company’s journal articles into digestible content forms; unleashing a wealth of valuable messaging, brand awareness and thought-leadership, to a broad audience, over an extended length of time.
Stamp of approval
Gaining acceptance in a mid- to high-impact journal is no easy feat. Of all the articles submitted to them for peer-review, the journal Nature publishes less than 8 percent, while Science accepts less than 7 percent.
First, an article undergoes an initial screening by the journal editor. After completing this screening, it is sent to a panel of scientific experts in the field. The reviewers provide feedback to the editor, who then decides to reject, accept or conditionally accept the manuscript.
These layers of independent scrutiny are what make the content of academic papers so valuable. Unlike marketing material and traditional media coverage, peer-reviewed articles are interrogated to a scientific standard. Truly novel science must be shown, with biases controlled.
♦ Extend a paper’s life: Re-packaging content
Take a fresh look at your scientific paper as it nears the publication phase. All the information you need is consolidated into one place. You’ll soon have the publication’s stamp of approval. With insider access to the material (and frequently the authors), you can build new content pieces and extend the life of your paper outside the peer-reviewed space.
♦ Extracting the Message
Before you begin, outline the key messages you want to highlight and your distribution goals – as you would with any new campaign or content initiative. Do you want to build brand awareness and thought-leadership, or make potential customers aware of a new (and now proven) product? (Click for an example from DNASTAR’s blog) How will you measure this initiative’s success? Are you looking to drive discussion on Twitter, or is it the amount of downloads from your website?
Once decided, there are a number of content forms and channels you can use –and reuse – to relay your message.
♦ Your Content Foundations
When the findings of your paper are extraordinarily newsworthy and of interest to the general masses (on par with cloning of Dolly the sheep), pursuing media coverage is a great option. But be realistic about your topic. If it’s validation of a new product, for example, it’s not likely to be picked up by third party media. You’ll need to be prepared to spearhead the promotion yourself.
Press releases are an efficient way to neatly summarize the gist of a paper and can act as a springboard for all sorts of content marketing applications. They are relatively straightforward to write and will further legitimize the paper. If a media outlet picks up the press release and writes an article, those interview transcripts and recordings are amazing content fuel, for current and future projects. Setting up a content base allows you to efficiently adapt a peer-reviewed paper into a number of marketing pieces.
♦ Finding a Natural Fit
The power of content marketing in mainstream publications is growing fast. Many media groups, even our own C&EN, will accept various forms of contributed content.
If the original paper validates a new product or service, you may consider purchasing a native advertising space in a relevant publication, to further promote its benefits. Identify a list of key media outlets and investigate what content formats the editors allow. These might include opinion pieces, timely articles, Q&As and other contributed pieces.
But rather than discussing the paper’s findings, they should be used as validation of the authors’ expertise. For example, the editorial would tackle a broader discussion that your company can help solve. If the original paper proved your new chemical entity reduces carbon monoxide emissions, you might write about new legislation that aims to curb environmental pollutants, and include briefly how your company is leading the way. Part of our job as science marketers is to stay up-to-date with topical stories.
♦ Audience engagement
Can the published articles also live on your own company blog? Most publications have rules restricting the use of contributed content. Be sure to follow those, but keep in mind that your own snappy blog posts and Tumblrs can be used to stamp more marks throughout cyberspace, solidifying the impact of your paper. If you place an article in a great trade publication, what about a top 10 post that links to that website, in addition to other content related to your paper? Time-wise, it’s not a huge commitment, and it broadens the audience you appeal to.
Promoting content on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook is a given for most science marketers. It amplifies all content sources, without competing for audience attention. To build a concerted effort, a number of channels should be used simultaneously. If the peer-reviewed paper is particularly important, build a content calendar to orchestrate the promotion of its release.
Additionally, Reddit’s r/science forum hosts ‘ask me anything’ (AMA) sessions, a platform for the public to pose your experts questions related to their paper and field. Further, consider engaging your audience through a webinar. Your scientists and authors can continue the discussion with experts and novices alike, throughout the world.
Finally, you can’t forget trade shows and virtual symposia as a means to extend the discussion. Make sure your attendees have access to plenty of material beforehand, to provide background on your company’s science. From there you can hold your own one-on-one ask me anything as a booth activity.
The Advantages of Repurposing
Peer-reviewed science stands the test of time — but you first have to reach your key audiences and continually remind them that it’s there. In 2015, there are many tools for you to achieve this, in which material can be efficiently repackaged for a range of audiences and to achieve an array of objectives.
Our final tip: remember calls to action. If you want to drive sales, link readers to more information on your website, or a purpose-built landing page. Be ready to continue the discussion with content and with people, interacting via social media, Reddit and webinars. The hard part of achieving publication is behind you; it’s time now to use these peer reviewed articles as content marketing fuel.
Keywords: content marketing, Custom Content, Journals, peer-review, science marketing, social media, technical content, Webinars, white papers