Over the years I’ve come to realize that I write the book I want to read, the one I can’t find anywhere.” –Ann Patchett, “The Getaway Car” (from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, the curated book of her past essays)

At the beginning of Part I of my Paper.li interview with Kelly Hungerford, I mentioned how university taught me two skills that have served me well throughout my career in public relations and communication management, research and critical thinking.

As the world changes and entire industries are being disrupted in terms of communication and interactions—and by that I mean the doing, rather than simply the saying—many of us are having to reinvent not so much our knowledge and specialized skill set, but rather how and where we can best deploy and grow them. Communication, for example, is moving from paper-based to online and (conversely) voice to text and images.

Various screens and multiple social media channels are now the window or pathway to getting to know the character and/or personality of the people we interact with, as well as the online organizations or “properties” to which they are affiliated.

However, it is noisy out there in the distributed network of the interwebs, with lots of competition and jostling for both markets and thought leadership.

The challenge is to get attention for content—whether your original work or information created by others—and connect with individuals or at least attract like-minded gatherers. Ideally, your mindful curation will lend itself to a community of interest for the short- or long-term.

Researching, weaving and sharing: Mindful thinking and opinions I cannot find anywhere else

Although not done deliberately, over the last few years I have come to realize that one of my 21st-century strengths is to be a curator of other people’s original ideas and opinions—often individuals with whom I had no prior knowledge or relationship. Much of my success in this role relates back to those two touchstone skills of research and critical thinking, meaning that the sharing and commenting upon is of a mindful nature.

I don’t claim to have a monopoly on the concept of mindful curation, in terms of general knowledge or the best Paper.li in @PRConversations Champions, but I can say that why I am doing it and for what goals (that is, my strategy) is deliberate, albeit an ongoing, evolving pathway of learning and adapting. It is always best to start from a place of thinking that you do not hold all of the answers and knowledge, but instead are deliberately committing to be a generous gateway to open up the knowledge and original thinking and opinions of others.

Although I have already modified or evolved some of my routines, I invite you to read Part II of the interview, to see how my curation of our blog’s Paper.li list began.

I consider adding consistently reliable, authoritative and generous people (in my discipline or those that are complementary) to the list as the penultimate step of my curation process regarding the Paper.li mechanism and algorithm that generates our Daily @PRConversations Champions.

Nevertheless, this same Daily is not the be-all-and-end-all of my mindful curation for the PR Conversations Twitter account, and it is this secondary but equally important curation process that is the focus of this post and the Twitter chat that I will guest host with Paper.li staff.

Similar to how Ann Patchett writes books she wants to read but she cannot find anywhere else, that is one of my differentiating goals when I research and weave together a daily offering of mindful content revolving around (globally relevant) PR and communications information for scheduled tweets/links on the account.

Becoming an authoritative gatekeeper of knowledge

If you can find the time in your busy day, a recommendation to listen to the three-person panel on a segment of the CBC Radio show, The Current, about whether people are faking “cultural literacy”—the ability to decode words, images or thoughts on page or screen—as well as the process to become an authoritative gatekeeper of knowledge, prior to the #Bizheroes chat.

Per the show’s subject experts, too many people pick and talk about articles and memes that are easily indexed and found near the top, instead of researching people and resources that might be more knowledgeable and fact-and-experience-based reliable.

Isn’t it more satisfying to introduce people of the lesser-known variety, versus the well-established media or high-profile and popular pundits? Particularly if the lesser-known individuals demonstrate originality or a thorough understanding of concepts…rather than a surface knowledge or a tendency to comment upon the thinking of others?

I would also suggest that mindful curation relates to the thinking, rationale mind, rather than the “emotions” side bandied about so often in social, relating to things like “passion” and fun-filled “engagement.”

Certainly passion and a sense of joy are great things to have, but when it comes to actually doing things, more often your stakeholder publics/audiences need information and new ideas that are useful and thoughtful; that is, knowledge that impacts or can be applied in various situations, particularly of a business nature.

Considering the mindful curation infrastructure

At the front end of mindful curation, this is my advice:

  1. Determine the mandate of your primary real estate space and structure your curation routines to find appropriate shares around it. For PR Conversations, we spent a great deal of time writing our About section; I use what we’re “about” as a rough outline of my curation decisions, too—a global/local focus on public relations, diversity, etc.
  2. Develop and have on hand reliable sources—your go-to properties or dependable curation resources (which may very well be your blog’s biggest champions or personal friends), but don’t stop there…
  3. …on the days where you have more time, open yourself up to serendipity: Research new blogs and writers, not just the recent post that caught your attention, but check out her or his back posts, too, or go down the rabbit hole of that person’s links of attribution or inspiration.
  4. Particularly for those days when you have less time to do broader-based research and reading, keep a cache of people/properties and posts that you’ve noted in the past. I find, in general, there is too much focus on the immediateness of information and the currency of being first—be mindful that good information does not go bad if shared a few days, weeks or even months later. And don’t forget to use the archives of your own property, particularly to compare and contrast with newer information.
  5. Back to the structure of your sharing, decide upon time slots that make the most sense, and figure out when curated information should be scheduled. For example, as our interested readers/stakeholders are of a global nature, I tend to research and schedule Pan-Asian specific topics and writers during my evening; likewise, information related to Europe or the UK gets scheduled when the sun is not yet up in my part of the world. Be aware of the needs of geographically disparate audiences.

Most of all, be mindful not to get stuck in a curation rut

Don’t get too stuck in your thinking or routines…leave open the possibility of the new and change up a few things or many.

Learn to love the huge expanse of space and possibilities in the mindful curation role of differentiation and experimentation—there is much to be gained and little—if anything—to lose.

Learn as you go on this journey and be open to new people and ideas; the best curators are not only mindful in their roles but generous in going down a wide variety of paths with the overt or passive guidance of others.

Join us Tuesday at 2pm EST, 20h CET to learn more about Judy’s mindful curation strategy. 

Topic Questions

Q1. Why do you curate information? What are your goals, what do you hope to achieve? 

Q2. Who are your main stakeholder partners/resources in mindful curation—and why? (Focus on types of people or groups, rather than specific names.)

Q3. Rather than the already known, suggest a recommended path to serendipitous curation.

Q4. Personality or character, popularity or authority—what are the advantages/disadvantages of both?

Q5. Define success in mindful curation: outputs (what you curate), outtakes (who shares/where) & outcomes (eg, relationships)?

Q6. Finally, who are your curation #bizheroes, the person or people you would point this Twitter chat community towards?

Judy Gombita
Judy Gombita is a Toronto-based hybrid public relations, communication management and social media strategist, with more than 20 years of employment and executive-level volunteer board experience, primarily in the financial and lifelong learning non-profit sectors. She is the co-content editor and Canadian contributor (since 2007) to the global, collaborative blog, PRConversations and also wrote a monthly column on social PR on the Maximize Social Business site for two years. She is an editorial advisory board member (and contributor) to The Journal of Professional Communication (JPC).

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One Response to “Mindful Curation: A Journey & Destination No One Else Offers”

  1. Judy Gombita

    Sorry, I seemed to have missed getting a notification about your comment, Davina.

    It was an interesting #bizheroes, with some good ideas. One thing that came up a few times was to use “curation” as a way to “engage” on your social media accounts. I indicated that it might be that person’s goal, but it wasn’t actually one of mine for the @PRConversations account. The longer I have an account on Twitter, the less I feel the need for “casual” engagement. Even Twitter chats, I’ve cut way back. But not a “business” relevant one like #bizheroes.

    BTW, today I was noodling around the interwebs and I found a blog with an Alltop badge. This remains quite a good resource for PR/marketing/communication blogs (including PR Conversations)….

    http://pr.alltop.com/

    (I scheduled a few tweets promoting posts from a couple of the Alltop PR blogs.)

    And YOU find some great stuff, too. And by “finding” I mean new people and sites.

    Reply

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