How researchers get heard
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Private Curation: The Gift of the Slow Roll

It’s a no-brainer to send your most valued audiences your latest authority content — your new op-ed, video, podcast, interview, infographic or white paper.

Very few research-driven organizations, though, send those audiences important new papers and content in their fields from researchers at other organizations.

Even fewer make a habit of it.


I’ve seen this private curation — which I call “slow-roll curation” — work over and over in the donor-driven space. It’s actually irresistible for most people, because it’s based on fundamental human dynamics:

  • Teaching and learning;
  • The leadership of generosity;
  • The seductiveness of the expert conferring insider status on another;
  • The invitation to dialogue;
  • The building of trust over time; and
  • The law of reciprocity.

The slow roll invokes all these dynamics at once — making what might seem like a small gift hugely valuable.

Private curation is simple: Your subject matter expert — and it must be the SME, the person closest to the expertise — emails personalized messages to one or five or a dozen donors and prospects, containing a link or a new paper and a short note explaining why you think the content is important (and/or where you think it’s wrong).

The message should be short and clear — along the lines of:

This new content in [publication] got me thinking about [X, Y and Z topics], and I wanted to share it with you. Here’s why I think it’s important for [that thing we’ve been talking about/working on]. [Insert your gloss on the content here.] Let me know if you have any questions or want to talk about it.

Here are the main benefits I’ve seen from private curation:

  1. It makes them feel like insiders. You’re treating them like co-conspirators and trusted colleagues. They love that.
  2. Over time, it makes them smarter supporters. They’re more informed, grasp concepts in your work more quickly, ask better questions, see the bigger picture more readily.
  3. It encourages dialogue. It gives them a chance to ask your SMEs clarifying questions and start to build deep, individual relationships with them.
  4. It builds your authority with them. Authority is another word for trust—which thought leaders create not just through expertise, but through expertise applied to the world in strong, articulate arguments, ideas and solutions. The generosity of private curation shows that you’re on top of what’s happening in your field and know that today’s problems are too complex for any one institution or organization to solve. And your annotation on the content demonstrates both your expertise and your unique POV.
  5. It adds to your touch total. Remember, you might need an average of 100 to convert these high-level audiences.

Private curation is seductive for you audiences. They hear from you when you have something important to share, and they quickly come to look forward to it. The habit of sending it builds a habit in them — a craving for  the gift of your insight, your authority…your leadership.

That’s the best kind of content marketing, no matter from where the content originates.