The Expert’s Conundrum: Those with the Most Expertise Have the Least Time to Communicate It

September 21, 2023

By Amy Below

Amy was born in Newport Beach, California, and spent her youth between California and New York, where she received her Master’s degree from Columbia University. At CONTENTI Amy applies her writing, editorial and organizational talents to a wide range of projects and clients. Her keen analytical skills are invaluable in understanding and expressing clients’ complex scientific and technical subjects.


  • Sharing technical insights from internal subject-matter experts is an important part of any content strategy.
  • Organizations must find ways to facil­i­tate experts’ input without monop­o­liz­ing their time.
  • High-level internal support for a company’s content strategy is a key success factor.
  • An internal or external technical/marketing writer must be empowered to coor­di­nate and offload the writing burden from busy experts.
The expert’s conundrum

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B2B orga­ni­za­tions that want to share their expertise and inno­va­tions with wider audiences face a dilemma. They don’t want to squander the valuable time of their subject matter experts by having them write content. After all, writing may not be something they have time for or are com­fort­able with, par­tic­u­lar­ly if they are writing in something other than their native language. AI writing tools can help to some degree, but the iter­a­tions required to express technical ideas with the appro­pri­ate nuances and accuracy can be a time-consuming and frus­trat­ing process. B2B orga­ni­za­tions need a solution that allows the ‘voices’ and expertise of their sci­en­tif­ic or technical inno­va­tors to shine, without taking up too much of their time or effort. I’ve expe­ri­enced first-hand the chal­lenges that companies face in trans­form­ing deep expertise into com­pelling long-form content. There are indeed a lot of good reasons to choose an external partner to help you coor­di­nate, shape and execute your company-wide content plan. But whether you select an external partner or take care of it inter­nal­ly, what follows are some of the takeaways from my expe­ri­ence and what I think is the right formula for success.

1. Identify your content streams

Coordinating your internal experts to create reliable streams of engaging content sounds daunting, but it’s def­i­nite­ly doable. But it must be done in a way that a) limits the time required or your experts, b) sets expec­ta­tions on all sides, and c) takes the pain out of the process. We’ve seen a lot of client-side content ini­tia­tives start then fizzle out from lack of a clear goal and clearly defined processes. Without creating the right con­di­tions, con­tribut­ing content can be perceived as a drag on people’s time, which could take them away from the jobs they’ll ‘really be evaluated on.’ Finding the right formula that works for your orga­ni­za­tion and that ensures a steady flow of brand-building content is not only possible, but it’s essential. In fact, your most suc­cess­ful com­peti­tors are already doing it.

An AI-generated image of a woman with three clocks behind her looking harried. To illustrate that experts don't have a lot of time to produce expert content
“A busy expert in a company that has to accom­plish a lot of things, pop-art style” Generated by DALL-E2 Artificial Intelligence.

2. Optimize your experts’ time

Nobody wants to feel like their time is being wasted. High-level technical or sci­en­tif­ic staff who focus their expertise on critical tasks won’t always have the time to produce customer-facing content. And, while they may be experts in their fields, they may not be expert in, or com­fort­able with, writing long-form content. That means, any content pro­duc­tion tasks are likely to be pushed to the bottom of the priority list, mostly by necessity. Ensuring that your orga­ni­za­tion produces a steady flow of high-quality content, including long-form formats, means you must reduce the content burden on your experts. We recommend taking the following steps: 

  • Make sure all your content sources under­stand the impor­tance of your company’s content strategy and the support for it at the highest levels; 
  • Make your expec­ta­tions clear, and discuss in advance both the subject and format of the content they will be con­tribut­ing;
  • Create a copy brief that specifies the angle of the article then work with your expert to produce an outline of the piece’s key points and con­clu­sions; 
  • Set a clear timeline stip­u­lat­ing when drafts are due and that factors in adequate time for your company’s val­i­da­tion process; 
  • Work with a qualified, expe­ri­enced indi­vid­ual with the required technical and com­mer­cial writing skills to take on most of the writing tasks and interface directly with your experts. This person’s mission should be fully supported by man­age­ment and the indi­vid­ual should have the stature to ensure that deadlines are respected. If someone internal will be doing it, content writing and editing should clearly iden­ti­fied as part of the person’s job descrip­tion, with ample time allocated to meeting writing respon­si­bil­i­ties.

3. Write with val­i­da­tion in mind

The val­i­da­tion cycle for technical or sci­en­tif­ic content, par­tic­u­lar­ly in highly-regulated sectors, can be long. When not managed effi­cient­ly, it can also be a source of inef­fi­cien­cy, frus­tra­tion and, ulti­mate­ly, poor content quality. For regulated content, ideally all claims should be vetted and approved prior to struc­tur­ing and drafting the content piece. In all cases, an approved brief at the beginning of the project will ensure content will be easier to validate. Because copy quality can be altered during val­i­da­tion, a final cor­rec­tion for read­abil­i­ty should be pro­grammed at the end of the val­i­da­tion process. Content con­trib­u­tors must be able to plan in advance for any demands on their time during the val­i­da­tion process.

4. Connect your buyers to the science

When you’re a subject-matter expert you tend to be most com­fort­able speaking to other experts. But com­mu­ni­cat­ing inno­va­tions to all stake­hold­ers is essential. No one among the decision makers involved in pur­chas­ing your products will be as spe­cial­ized as your own experts! Special care should be taken in ensuring that technical and sci­en­tif­ic messages connect with the full range of stake­hold­ers. This may involve adapting technical notions to reach a wider audience and/or repur­pos­ing expert content to achieve that goal. 

5. Plan ahead for subjects and frequency

Expert content is often employed to establish thought lead­er­ship. But whatever your content goals are, planning ahead is essential. We recommend estab­lish­ing a 6‑month rolling content plan, updated and adapted as required. This should entail a mix of content formats and subjects mapped to target profiles, stages in buyer journeys, if appro­pri­ate, and selected channels. Anyone involved in content pro­duc­tion within your orga­ni­za­tion should receive a planning calendar well in advance so that they can integrate their con­tri­bu­tion into their schedules. Content produced by your internal network should be proofed, edited for SEO, and vetted for con­sis­ten­cy with brand messaging. The content plan should incor­po­rate mean­ing­ful metrics that will allow your company to monitor progress and adjust as needed. 

Let the content flow!

Activating your internal people to create a steady flow of effective content doesn’t have to be a headache. However, there are few shortcuts, and not planning ade­quate­ly can create a drag on your enter­prise that will ulti­mate­ly frustrate and impede your content strategy. There are a lot of good reasons to choose an external partner to help you coor­di­nate, shape and execute your company-wide content plan. It ensures that you’ll have the support of expe­ri­enced, knowl­edge­able content experts that can structure the content brief, deliver impec­ca­ble prose, track progress with your internal content providers, and break down infor­ma­tion silos that may make inter-depart­men­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions projects com­pli­cat­ed. However you choose to organize your content strategy, the one thing we’ve found that separates success from failure is strong and vocal buy-in and com­mit­ment from top man­age­ment to a vigorous and high-quality content program.

“Unfortunately, some content ini­tia­tives start strong then fizzle out from lack of a clear goal and clearly defined processes.”

- Amy Below


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