Whether is coming up with an idea or grasping the technical aspects, writing a feature for a new technology can be daunting. No one knows more about a new innovation than the inventor themself, but even with access to the inventor, there are difficulties encountered. Here are a few challenges and tips to be aware of as you help bridge the gap between the inventor and general audience in communicating new innovations (part one of this series can be found here).
Understanding the Research
The initial assignment is met with a mixture of excitement and anxiety; a new technology and the chance to interview its inventor is thrilling, but occasionally the technologies are highly complex and become somewhat difficult to understand without a PhD. A good place to start is a quick Google search on that area of research—look for references from reputable sources, including Wikipedia or YouTube, to gain a basic understanding of the science. Also look for previously published papers from the inventor as a resource. Sometimes you can even find a past interview with the inventor which can be very helpful in thinking about how to approach the piece.
Crafting the Questions
At this point, it is time to develop questions for the interview. If possible, craft questions that only the inventor can answer–avoid straightforward questions that can be answered by referring to the technology brief. Questions that are tailored to the inventor will glean the most information, result in a more enjoyable interview, and contribute to a more unique featured innovation article.
The next challenge is to establish a time to interview the inventor. Scheduling an interview can be one of the greatest challenges; the inventor is typically very involved in the process of the development of the technology and coordinating a time to meet or speak on the phone can be complicated. In a case where the inventor isn’t being responsive it can often be helpful to get assistance from the case manager.
Review the Work
After a draft is written, it is best to send it to both the case manager and inventor for approval. Do not wait for one to respond before sending the article to the other, this will only delay the process further. Incorporating the comments and suggestions of both, which often requires further editing, will result in a finished product that is ready for posting.
The solution to most setbacks encountered in the featured innovation writing process includes persistence and clear communication between all parties involved. Featured innovations showcase some of the most fascinating technologies OTT is bringing to market, and not unlike the technologies themselves, the writing process encounters setbacks along the way.
– Hannah Heitz & Aspen Ono