To connect with your community about open access, you need to think like a marketer. In his keynote luncheon address, Bob Witeck, chief executive officer and founding partner of Witeck-Combs Communications Inc., said he wanted to deliver confidence to the SPARC meeting attendees as fellow marketers telling them: Go forth and evangelize.

By sharing the key messages about messaging, Witeck explained what it takes to market a product, service and, more importantly, an idea. To successfully communicate the value of open access, the following questions must be answered:

Who cares?
The answer is: Everyone does. Open access is about extraordinary reach of information and the new culture that hungers to set it free. It’s about people and process. It’s meant for individuals who want to unlock information. The challenge for every communicator is to know your audience. Talk directly to them and explain your unique value. Use plain English. Avoid the word “institution.” Eventually you have to connect with people how they talk and how they live. Use a story - something authentic to talk about ideas, people and change. Don’t talk about a sterile process. Make it compelling. Access is not just for geeks. Science is about sharing.

Why does it matter?
For most of the world, science has been kept a secret. There are appropriate concerns. It has divided the world into those who know and who can’t find out. The digital age has turned that on its head. With the cumulative imbalances in the economy, and the interconnected global market, now is the time to move the open access message with urgency.

Is comes down to money, doesn’t it?
With public sector budgets at risk, you need to find ways to continue to make the case for investments in digital repositories. The concept of investing more with less in tight economic times may be the perfect storm of opportunity to make public research online for free in the future.

It’s all about trust, isn’t it?
In this exploding digital age, not all information is equal. Whether you are a scholar or an 8th grader doing a science project looking for knowledge, you have one thing in common: You want a trusted source. Clearly, as a repository, you must be the trusted nexus for all your stakeholders and targets. The challenge for all our institutions is to advocate in a marketing sense, to partner with researchers and to be the trusted connectors of knowledge that improves all our lives.

Tap into others to tell the story
Enlist colleagues with marketing gifts to gets ideas that are out of the box. Ask undergrads to do digital videos. Get a teaching assistant, a bright young star on campus, a visiting professor or a department chair to be an effective third party to tell the story about the merits of open access. Ask the business school to be part of the solution in creating a class of workers that are focused on contributing to the information economy. Emphasize that this is a global story now with rich resources from around the world connecting in this authentic movement.

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