Thursday, September 22, 2011

Promoting experts gets creative

Some are hyper-local, some worldwide in scope. But for communicators looking to expand the ways in which they make experts available in public settings, here are three creative options to consider:
  • Dial 'em up: Local Hero, currently an iPhone app with an Android version on the way, "connects to your Facebook account to determine your skills and location, and uses it to connect you with friends and others on LocalHero looking for advice." Yes, that means legwork for you, making sure your Facebook account displays your expertise and participation in the Local Hero community. But for those with a robust presence on Facebook, this is a great way to build connections with an audience.
  • Check them out: The "human library" is a program of the new Surrey, British Columbia, public library in which you can check out an expert instead of a book to learn more about a topic. The experts are volunteering their services; library patrons will be able to request them and chat with them in the library cafe. This is an easy enough program to implement no matter your mission, and one that might involve your retirees, members, donors and more. And while it's low-tech and high-touch, I can see this option easily promoted on social networks. Think about being able to provide a subject expert, live, on a day when her specialty's in the news.
  • Widen the lecture hall: Online courses may have been an option you dismissed as a means of promoting experts, but think again: Stanford University's online artificial intelligence course has attracted a whopping 58,000 people from 175 countries around the world. This effort differs from early-era online courses by including not just uploaded lectures on video but interactive games, streaming video and interactive quiz and grading functions. The new functionality means experts get more of a presence and personality in online classes--something that can help shape their image with news media, collaborators and others watching, like Bill Gates, who sent a comment in to MIT about one of its solid-state chemistry lectures, thanking the university for making it available online.
Got a novel way to put your experts forward? Share it in the comments.

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