Communicating with Business

Resources from ‘Communicating with Business’ Virtual Workshop May 2020

Quick links:
Approaching businesses or academic colleagues for collaboration | Working with the Media | Using Media to Create a Presence

Approaching businesses or academic colleagues for collaboration

The following short video files have been supplied by Gordon Hudson.

Gordon, who works now as an independent consultant, has previously worked in industry for Mott MacDonald and in academia holding an Enterprise Chair in Sustainability at Northumbria University.

Gordon has a lot of experience of ‘bidding for work’ in a traditional sense and he is sharing his insight here for us to think about how we can apply the same skills for when we hoping to begin collaboration, this could be approaching industry with the aim of collaboration, approaching other academics to collaborate. The skills and techniques discussed may also be useful when writing funding bids and responding to funding calls.

Winning Work Through Presentation – Session 1 – Gordon Hudson
Winning Work Through Presentation – Session 2 – Gordon Hudson
Winning Work Through Presentation – Session 3 – Gordon Hudson

Questions / Points for Reflection

Collaborations may not happen quickly. It can take a lot of time to build up a relationship with a potential collaborator.

You might start by networking, developing relationships, and then exploring potential for collaborative working. In this sense you will need to develop the relationship first before you ‘pitch’ the collaboration idea.

Keep in mind what you can offer and the things that will make your offer to potential collaborators unique.

Before you discuss collaborative working it might be helpful to know what funding you can bring to any partnership, your contribution of time in kind, your scholarly activity time, HEIF funding, knowledge exchange funding etc.

Think about who you might need to present your ideas to? Might it be your one industrial contact or to their team of managers? Might you have to pitch internally to Business Development colleagues? Or to colleagues at other universities to form a team? Ensure that you are as well informed as possible before you present your ideas.

Think broadly about how you can use the skills that Gordon discusses in his videos. Could they also be useful when you are responding to a tender opportunity, to a funding call or when you might be approaching potential collaborators speculatively by email?

Being at the stage where you can make initial contact means you will already have passed many hurdles. Try to remember, companies will have capacity, maximum resources they can afford to devote to projects and a budget they are willing to spend. You need to tap into what they really want and what they will spend time/money on. Businesses might have to focus on their ‘wants and must haves’ rather than projects which might be nice but are not essential.

Working with the Media

Geoff was formerly Head of Public Policy and Communications, RICS North and has a track record in media PR and successfully gaining media coverage. Making use of case studies and his own professional experience Geoff has provided some videos for us about how academics can engage with the media, including print-based and broadcasting, to share news about their research and grow their profile.

The first video gives some background into traditional forms of media, the second presents some guidance for beginning to engage with the media. Please watch them and then spend some time thinking about the reflective prompts at the end of this page.

Working With The Media – Part 1 – Geoff White
Working With The Media – Part 2 – Geoff White

Questions / Reflective Prompts

Before you begin to engage with the media think about what message you want to send and to who. Choose the most appropriate format and location for sharing your messages.

Media contacts may have different agenda’s to your own, don’t be afraid to turn down opportunities to engage if they are not what you are looking for.

What would you write on a press release about your research work? What would your headline be? What parts of your work would be most interesting to academic colleagues or to potential industrial partners?

Using Media to Create a Presence

In 2018, Kate was named as a Telegraph/Women’s Engineering Society ‘Top 50 Women Engineer’ and is a Northern Power Women ‘Person with a Purpose.’ Using examples from her own career progression Kate’s videos explore how the use of media has factored in her becoming known as an industry subject matter expert, and how being clear of her own brand has opened up opportunities to affect significant industry changes and inspired others to do likewise.

Please watch Kate’s videos and then think about the reflective questions which follow.

Using Media to Create a Presence – Part 1 – Kate Cairns
Using Media to Create a Presence – Part 2 – Kate Cairns
Using Media to Create a Presence – Part 3 – Kate Cairns

Reflective Prompts

Kate has a strong brand, she positions herself with purpose as an expert, speaker, adviser and advocate.

  • What 4 keywords would you choose to help describe yourself to potential collaborators?
  • What 4 words would you want people to use to describe you?Who do you have in your current network? Which contacts can help you and which new ones do you need to make?

Think about your own situation and use Kate’s three prompts to help you focus your engagement with the media:

  • How will you share your message? With print, on social media, TV?
  • What message do you want to share? What do you want people to hear? How do you want to be known?