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Consumer Behavior

Be Your Own Best Publicist

5 tips for sharing your inspiring ideas as a psychologist.

Key points

  • Marketing your writing and speaking doesn't have to be a drudgery; it can be energizing.
  • Reframing from marketing to sharing makes all the difference.
  • Promoting your ideas, opinions, and gems as a psychologist can help people transform themselves and their lives.
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As psychologists, we're not trained to be marketers. By nature, we're more interested in listening and the introverted joy of swimming deeply in ideas and feelings. Tell us to promote our ideas outside of the office or, worse yet, in publication, presentation, or the stage, and we're totally tongue-tied.

I don't have anything important to share—we protest, we demur, we deny.

Sharing vs. Marketing Your Insights and Ideas

Advertising smacks of slick salesmanship, the close cousin of the manipulation and inauthenticity we tirelessly rail against in our daily sessions. Promoting your ideas, opinions, and gems as a psychologist doesn't have to be a bad business. It can be sharing the best of you and your work, and, even better, it can help lots of people transform themselves and their lives.

Whether you're just starting out with an idea or just published a book, here are tried-and-true tips for getting your ideas—your lovelies, as I'll call them—out there in the world. Your lovelies are clamoring for a home and a community to call their own, and you are the best person to help them find one.

Tip 1: Help a Reporter Out

If you're new to sharing your ideas, start small by pitching in with a quote, a clinical nugget, or just part of the story. An online service for journalists to connect with experts of all stripes and varieties, Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a fantastic way to get your feet wet with writing and sharing your work.

For a small monthly fee, you'll get emails three times a day that will have possible stories that might just fit for the area you've been clamoring to talk about. Do you have some new hack for easing stress and anxiety, some new insight on how to balance work and home life, or specialize in working with a certain subpopulation—e.g., teenage introverts looking for the best tips on finding a significant other? Journalists are all on the prowl looking for you!

HARO will not only help you find interesting homes for your ideas and insights, but it will also teach you more about how much is out there online, in print, on the radio, and on TV. I can't tell you the number and variety of different publications I've learned about just by reading my daily HARO emails, nor the unexpected places my own pieces have landed because of it.

HARO is one of the most innocuously addictive ways of starting a good writing habit. It's often easiest to write when there's altruism baked in and you don't feel the big responsibility of the whole story. I want to help you get something out that's really solid, and in the process, I develop ideas that might just show up in that book I've always dreamed of writing.

Tip 2: Podcasts, Podcasts, Podcasts

Just like the location, location, location mantra in real estate, podcasts are the place to tinker with your ideas and establish a platform and audience of folks interested in learning more about your work. There are so many exciting and interesting new ones out there on a range of mental health issues, and you can either search and listen yourself or easily subscribe to a monthly service like Podmatch to find the podcast that's just right for you.

Podcasts are a dynamic way for you to tease out your ideas and insights in conversation. Like a comedian, you get to test out your material to see which "punchlines" really land and how to make sure your material doesn't have "too long a walk." Podcasts are the conversational equivalent of writing and help you further refine and distill your ideas with an engaging partner who is excited to learn more.

Tip 3: Get on the TEDx Stage

A TEDx talk is a fantastic way to bring your big idea and call to action to a local and global audience. Usually centered around a particular theme or organized in a local community, TEDx talks are poems masquerading as conversations. Under 18 minutes, they are a focused and inspiring personal story combined with a golden insight that gets people excited to change themselves and the world.

Tip 4: Write Your Heroes

Who are the writers and thinkers that inspire you? Establishing connections with them through email, LinkedIn or Instagram comments, or even in person at conferences is another wonderful way of carrying on extended conversations about your ideas. And many of these folks are delighted to respond and sometimes even comment on your work.

Howard Gardner, the famed Harvard professor best known for his theory on multiple intelligences, corresponded with Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Claude Levi-Strauss, and Groucho Marx and proudly displays these letters in his office. His motto says it best: "We are the sum of whoever we worked with."

In the best case, you'll get encouraging support and appreciation for your own special brand of magic, or at the very least, you'll just get an acknowledgment note from one of your heroes. Worst case, you don't get any response, but you'll often be surprised at who does respond.

Tip 5: There's Gold in Those Networks—Mine Them!

Often right in front of us, in the colleagues and friends we already have, there's so much gold: People who are excited about our writing and clinical preoccupations, folks who are in a position to help us share our material, and even possible co-authors and co-presenters. Always keep your eyes open for what's in your network and mine it for the sake of sharing more gold together.

Instead of sinking your money in an expensive publicist who will shoot for the moon but leave you free falling when you get the bill, you can be your own best publicist. Using a few or all of these tips, you'll be well on your way to writing, speaking, and sharing your gems with the world. And the world will be better for it!

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