Communications for Nerds, what researchers can learn from chemists

Readers of this blog cannot have missed that our very own Colonel Mustard, Lucy Davison, has been working hard over the years to find ways of helping researchers communicate better. In particular, her workshops and presentations at conferences including ESOMAR include methods researchers can learn from communications experts to ensure they communicate their insights in ways that are motivating, engaging and that ultimately lead to action.

So we were most entertained to read a piece in Fast Company magazine last Friday on how a Fortune 500 company was struggling with communications between the R&D team of chemical nerds and the marketing team of attention poor ‘creative’ types. This has clear parallels with the way research agencies (and, at times, internal clients) struggle to engage with stakeholders.

The ‘nerds’ wanted to do long PPT presentations, they wanted to talk about the wonderful technical breakthrough of their new formula. They could not think in terms of consumer benefits. The company in question eventually forced the R&D team to think in a new way by getting them to communicate their new formula via an advertising billboard. Once the R&D team was told they could have just three messages — one visual, one informative, and one call-to-action — it forced them into focusing only on the motivating consumer benefit of their new formula, and nothing else.

This exercise is one that Lucy uses in her workshop and it’s incredible how effective the results are when used by researchers to force them to think about their data in a new way.  Catch Lucy in Dubai in March where she will be running a ‘Communicating Insights’ workshop at the ESOMAR congress.