Thursday, March 25, 2010

Research - A Visibility Plan

Part of my job at the Anita Borg Institute is to work with Caroline Simard, our VP of Research and Executive Programs to package and release the research that she does. We published our newest research this week: Senior Technical Women: A Profile of Success. So what role does marketing play in this process? It all started last year when we were setting our annual goals. We had identified two potential studies to put out this year. Once we had decided a general timeframe I started contemplating how we could promote this specific research paper.

First among the considerations is what is the content and how do we want to attract the attention of the news media? For this particular research I decided that instead of just the standard single press release we would actually publish two. The first described the research and some of its general findings. The second is a list of the Top Six Attributes of High Ranking Technical Women. Someone asked me why two releases. My answer was simple - the media really do like publishing lists. People in general love lists - hence the success of David Letterman's Top 10 list, The lists of Oscar nominees, and many magazines have a list of some sort featured on the cover. Our attributes list was perfect - the attributes are listed in the reseach and they have statistical data to back them up.

Doing the two press releases give the media options - they can pursue the more indepth findings of the research or if they want something that's very accessible they could publish the list.

Once we had the plan in place we had to finish off the research. From Marketing this means working with our graphic designer to create a cover that fits in with both the theme of the paper and also fits in with our general look and feel. We wanted to convey the concept of women on top. We found a number of silhouettes of people on a mountain top but they were all attired (or not attired) appropriately. So we had Alex use on of the visuals but modify it so it fit in with our overall desired outcome.

Throughout the entire process there is proofreading, at least a dozen rounds. The major challenge is that sometimes you do one fix and create a new problem elsewhere.

Once that was finished we counted down to launch. We did a media embargo with our PR firm, the fabulous Ventana Public Relations, who took our list of target media and for the 10 days before launch actively promoted the research. They did a great job and we did press briefings last week so reporters could write articles and publish them the day the research went public. We also responded to press requests this week from people who wanted to write about research post publication.

We have received a great deal of coverage - people really responded to both the research and the attributes. The media coverage includes Network World, Forbes, Businessweek, and San Jose Mercury News. I'm including a link to the Mercury News Article as an example of our coverage.

So what are our next steps? Well, we're still waiting to see if some of the interviews/briefings we did will become articles. I won't publish those names until we know. Caroline will continue blogging on her Fast Company Blog about the research. And I've signed up to write articles from some websites I know on the research. Stay tuned...

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