Using RAs Part III: Publicizing Your Work
You spent a lot of time to research and write something. You’ve gone through the tedious and long publication process. And now you can sit back and relax because the power of your ideas will ensure that all the right people will read it.
Just kidding! Especially if you are from an underrepresented group in academia, your work is more likely to get overlooked no matter how good it is. For example, women are less likely to be cited, less likely to be used on syllabi than their male colleagues.
Self-promotion is painful. It takes time, but it's also uncomfortable, especially as a woman. A male colleague once told me I was being too aggressive because I sent out an email about my book being published. A book I spent seven years working on! I doubt any of my male colleagues would've received such criticism.
But I digress. The point is to come up with some useful and time-effective ways to publicize your work. If you are interested in a complete checklist, a post on this is forthcoming. But here are some things your RA can do to help (if their work arrangement allows for support in some admin tasks).
Update your website. You have a personal website, right? If not, you 100% should. You can't control your university or think tank profile page. Also, if you change affiliations, you don't have to start building a website from scratch. So it's nice to have your own website.
I loathe posting stuff on my website. Luckily, I don't have to! Whenever I publish an article, I am quoted in the news, win an award, or whatever, I sent the link to my RA on a slack channel called #website. She takes the time to post it. This also includes finding a relevant picture and moving other products into an archive so that my website doesn't get too cluttered.
Post the article to key websites. When I was a few years into a tenure-track position at Georgetown, one of my colleagues asked about my research promotion strategy. Unsurprisingly, I had no idea what she was talking about. She mentioned that she posted her work on three websites to help get her work out there: SSRN, Researchgate, and Academia.edu.
Now I do the same – only for academic articles, not op-eds, reports, testimony, and the like. But again, that still takes time, so I ask my RA to do it. As part of the onboarding package, I give them my login information for these sites. Whenever I publish something, I send them the final draft. IMPORTANT COPYRIGHT INFO. On most of these sites, you can only upload the final draft of an article, pre-copyediting. For years, by the time something was published, I couldn't remember which of the dozens of versions I had was the final draft. Now I have a folder called, creatively, 'Final Drafts' where I put all articles upon acceptance. Then I know to send that version to my RA when the article is finally published.
Draft tweets about it. One of my best friends is also a professor with expertise in media and communication. She has given me a lot of advice about using social media because I’m pretty bad at it/hate it. Look for a whole post on using Twitter to publicizing your work soon. When she has a new publication, she has her RA draft three tweets about the publication with Loomly. This is a platform that allows someone else to draft tweets for you that you approve. They can also simultaneously draft announcements about your work to your other social media profiles, like on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc., if you want.
Put together a newsletter for you. I just started using Mailchimp to send out a newsletter about my work every 4 months. A colleague of mine at Stanford uses it, and I thought it looked really sleek and professional. Look for an upcoming post on how to use Mailchimp to save a lot of time in publicizing your work. My newsletter consists of a personal message and then a list of my publications, media appearances, etc. This section, I have my RA put together because it takes time to format, find pictures, input links, etc.
Final note. I ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK what my RA has done before something goes live or is sent. But this takes less than five minutes, which is much quicker than doing it myself!
If you have other ideas about how RAs can help you publicize your work, let me know!