How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders

Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown

TTLT: Data Viz Gold Standard

It’s this graphic by Vox, issued in the wake of President Trump and U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blaming the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton in part on teen consumption of violent video games:

The graphic exemplifies data marshaled to shape a public conversation.…

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TTLT: Screening Sunscreen

Would you rather:

a) Read a scientist’s accessible and well-written 850-word breakdown on the evidence about whether sunscreens are harmful to us — and how we should respond?


b) Watch a four-minute video by the same scientist doing the same breakdown and giving similar advice?…

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Tuesday TL Teardown: Anti-Vaxxers & You

What separates researcher thought leadership from the kind of thought leadership everybody hates is…research, and the uniquely deep expertise that flows from being a researcher.

Saturating your thought leadership with supporting research doesn’t work. But not having any research doesn’t work, either.…

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Take Your Gloves Off

Every Tuesday, I do a TTLT — Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown — for my mailing list. Here’s my latest.

Evidence or expertise alone don’t make your ideas compelling.

You make them compelling.

“You” meaning: your voice. Your style, coupled with a strong argument and point of view.…

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Tuesday TL Teardown: Saying No

Why do we say “yes” to doing things that aren’t in our best interest?

If you have this problem, you’re not alone: Almost everyone finds it difficult to say no when authority figures ask them for something — even when they’ve been advised they can refuse the request.…

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Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown: Not Just Whys, But the Why

What’s going on at the NRA?

Brian Mittendorf, an accounting professor at Ohio State who studies the finances of nonprofits and has been looking at the NRA’s tax filings, says he knows. His new piece in The Conversation, “Financial woes are at the heart of the NRA’s tumult,” argues the organization’s current internal conflict — marked by high-level resignations, accusations of extortion, looming insolvency and now a criminal investigation — is “the culmination of years of financial problems”:

  • Routine deficit spending;
  • Borrowing from its own foundation; offering discounted, multiyear memberships; and underfunding its pension plan — all tactics designed to boost short-term revenue at the expense of the long-term;
  • Having an enormous board of directors (76 people!);
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Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown: A Map is Just a Map

“Everyone” is not an audience: the first platitude of communications.

An important variation on this “everyone” theme: “x, y, z, and anyone else who….”

Effective research communication requires making choices — immediately — about who your audiences are, and then understanding which messages and products will give them exactly what they need to make a decision.…

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