These Ideas Spotlight Social, Innovation, Talent and Tech – and Can Be Adapted  

It’s Ideas Wednesday. The American Chemical Society gives a nice twist to the 35-under-35 genre. gets big audiences with their Zoom On Ins. We like quizzes, and PMMI Media Group does it well and with purpose. And insideARM puts their Innovation Council to good use with a Think Differently series.

Talented Twelve. Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) has been published by the American Chemical Society since 1923. Subscribers get a magazine, RSS feeds, archives access, a mobile app, tailored newsletters, a podcast—Stereo Chemistry—and a voice product that “delivers daily chemistry news highlights to your Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speaker.”

What caught my attention this week is their Talented Twelve program. “Nominate a Rising Young Chemist to Be One of C&EN’s Talented 12 for 2021. Help us identify early career scientists doing research that will have a global impact.” Knowing this organization you can be sure that this will be a very diverse dozen. The program is presented by Thermo Fisher Scientific, so that’s a nice sponsorship.

Looking back at their 2019 class, C&EN also does a fun, informational page on the group, asking their favorite dish to cook (best answer – Bangladeshi kacchi biryani), number of patents filed (27), languages spoken (9) and surprising skills (wrestling – from Markita – and violin). Each also gets their own profile.

Reach out and learn copyright. Or in the case of last week’s Zoom On In, the relationship between copyright and contracts. Lesley Ellen Harris of has been hosting these every few weeks for a couple years now—yes even before Zoom absconded with our lives.

Zoom On Ins are free, 20-minute virtual copyright sessions and part of’s initiatives to make people more aware of copyright law. Harris told me this morning that 200 registered for last week’s session, and 150 attended. That’s a very good percentage, and a smart way to build interest for her paid online courses

“I really nurture [my audience],” she said. “I email them, ‘Don’t forget to come!’ I keep in touch with them—I just want to keep building the community. Actually, I only did a medium marketing effort on this one.” I asked her what other benefits gets from these.

“Several things. They’re great for my students. In the bigger picture, they’re great for our alumni—they can keep them up to date. They’re great for the public to get information. For us, we can build our list and nurture our current list. It’s good, practical information.”

The sessions are at 1 pm Eastern, and Harris gets attendees from all over the world. “Global has always been important,” she said. “Think about not just what you’re doing now but how people’s habits have changed moving forward.”

Ask Me Another. Quiz: Are You a Social Media Smarty? asks PMMI Media Group. Not only are quizzes proven winners for engagement, but most of us could use help when it comes to social media. So this quiz is particularly well-positioned.

“With email challenged by competition for the inbox, marketers are having to up their game on social,” they write. “Do you have what it takes to succeed? Test your social media smarts with this brief quiz.” There are five questions, and I did not do too well. So I signed up for their monthly Marketing Insights email newsletter “for latest research and tips!”

Another question asks: Which will get your brand in front of the largest group of active prospects? The final question asks us to choose an image that Company X is planning to run in a Facebook ad. I feel better when I see that 82% got it wrong. I am not alone. At the bottom, you see this button: “Learn how PMMI Media Group can help you reach the right audience with your next campaign.” Oh, you can also take the quiz again. Is that cheating?

Other media company quizzes I like: the Financial TimesEducation Week and Kiplinger. And Lessiter Media has a good article titled 3 Ways to Use Quizzes in Your Marketing Strategy.

Good thinking. Innovation is often talked about but not made intentional enough. InsideARM dispels that notion with their ongoing Think Differently series. “Written by or recorded with members of the iA Innovation Council, the series of articles and videos showcases thought leadership in analytics, communications, payments, and compliance technology for the accounts receivable management industry.”

Ray Peloso, CEO of a technology company called Katabat, wrote the first 2021 article. “Great innovation is usually a series of incremental lessons honed through relentless discipline in a rapid cycle environment where “speed to insight” or “speed to fail” is the most valuable objective,” he writes. “Disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action; Identifying and discarding bad ideas on the road to winners is crucial. Shortening the timeline from initial idea to winner is a massively powerful concept that separates great innovators from the rest of the pack.”

A program like this energizes their Innovation Council so it’s a real thing, provides paths to innovation, positions InsideARM as a thought leader and builds engagement.

If you have any suggestions for future Ideas Wednesdays, please send to Thanks!


‘What Molecule Am I?’ The Many Positive Outcomes From a Quiz

On the American Chemical Society homepage, there’s a heading for a big Virtual Meeting & Expo this week; then there’s a very cool member invitation: “Me Becomes We, Improve the world through the transforming power of chemistry” with a super-diverse, 16-square face box; and also a Personal Stories area with testimonials.

One more element on the page must get a lot of clicks to be so prominent: “Molecule of the Week: You’ll get a bang out of making me. What molecule am I?” (There’s always a clever question.) I click for the answer. “Azidoazide azide.” When I click on their archive, I see they’ve been doing this feature since 2005! (Bullvalene was the first. Superbowl was the fifth.)

People like quizzes, trivia—virtual nights still attract a big crowd—and puzzles. The Wall Street Journal studied how different reader habits affected subscriber churn. They looked into how various products and subscriber actions affected customer retention during the first 100 days after a reader had signed up. They found that “playing a puzzle had a more dramatic impact on reader retention than other actions the team had been promoting.”

Quizzes and puzzles also bring people back to your website. What’s the molecule going to be next week? Northwestern’s Medill research determined that the frequency with which a reader comes back to a publication’s website “is the single biggest predictor of retaining subscribers—more than the number of stories read or the time spent reading them.”

Here are more reasons for using quizzes:

To sell products and build archives. MedLearn Media has a popular Compliance Question of the Week. Typical “Laboratory Question” is: “I’ve heard there is a CPT® code for COVID-19, is this true?” After the answer is given, readers are told that “This question was answered in an edition of our Laboratory Compliance Manager. For more hot topics relating to laboratory services, please visit our store or call us at 1.800.252.1578, ext. 2.”

To educate readers about your topic. “Who are these Five Influential Women Engineers?” the American Society of Mechanical Engineers asks. “Many influential women engineers are role models and mentors for the next generation of female engineers. How many of these women do you recognize?” Then after I got just 2 out of 5 questions right, I got this: “Interested in finding out more about these influential women engineers?” Hit the Learn More button.

To convey positive information about your audience or members. The American Association for Cancer Research does this to show the progress they’ve made. “Thanks to cancer research, the number of cancer survivors is increasing year after year. How many cancer survivors are projected to be living in the United States by 2040?” I chose the highest number—26.1 million—and was correct! “Research is driving advances in cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment that are helping more and more people to survive longer and lead fuller lives after a cancer diagnosis.”

Lead generation. After a brief hiatus, Education Week quizzes are back and they’re timely. “Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Elementary Remote Instruction? How are elementary educators responding to the shift to remote learning, and what challenges do elementary students and teachers face with remote instruction?” It’s sponsored by Square Panda, but Education Week maintains editorial control. You have to give your email address to see the results. For this quiz, there were 994 participants. In the past, Education Week would regularly achieve nearly 90% quiz completions and around 60% of people who completed the quiz filling out the registration form.

To raise money for a good cause. The Investment Week Virtual Quiz 2020 was designed to help “heroic frontline NHS [National Health Service] staff tackling the coronavirus crisis.” They held a live quiz “hosted by a special industry guest.” Participants were sent a link and also could dial in to a video/audio call. They would even show a leaderboard in real-time so the winner can be revealed instantly. To take part they asked people to choose a donation fee with all proceeds going to CASCAID’s NHS fundraising campaign (minimum donation was £15).

To get sponsors and increase knowledge. I came across this quiz recently on a site called The Fulcrum: How Much Do You Know About the Electoral College? Good to see that on the bottom it says, “This quiz is powered by CredSpark,” one of our vendor members. “Think you know all there is to know about the Electoral College? Test your smarts with this quiz.” I didn’t do very well—got about half right. But it certainly engaged me.

More lead generation. Lessiter Media has been getting good results from their sponsored quizzes. How Much Do You Know About Soil Enrichment Practices? they ask. “Take this quick 6-question quiz to find out. We didn’t create this quiz ‘just for fun,’ but to act as an educational tool.” For a previous quiz, they received 3,346 total submissions from Nov. 2019, through the end of March 2020. About 1,658 were new email addresses and 120 new subscribers.

To sell a webinar. Lastly, I always hark back to a quiz that OPIS did. The questions were tough, so that when you got one wrong, the answer led you to an upcoming webinar where the correct answers would be discussed. The email with this quiz drew the most sign-ups for that webinar.


Turning Sessions Into Workshops May Provide Even Better Experiences

At our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Hollywood, Fla., in November—or as some now refer to it, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood— Amanda Yarnell and Jessica Morrison from American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News, told their story and then had attendees collaborating and thinking.

(Members can listen to recordings of all the BIMS sessions here.)

The session was titled How to Re-Org Your Newsroom Around Product Without Breaking It. “In the past, “we didn’t really have an approach,” Morrison said. “We didn’t have a product mindset. What we did have was years and years of institutional knowledge inside people’s heads. We had a traditional style and a legacy newsroom that was the opposite of product thinking.”

After more description of their journey, Yarnell and Morrison divided the people into teams and had them choose roles and then prioritize newsroom activities. It was engaging and elicited some riveting and thoughtful discussion.

I thought of this again after seeing an article from ASAE this morning titled Attendee Engagement Tactics for All Budgets. Here is their number one recommendation:

“Integrate project-based, design-thinking workshops into your conference content. If your participants are engaged in discussion and idea-sharing, they will retain 50% of the information after the conference. If they are building solutions to real-world problems in small groups, they will remember 90% of the information. Small groups prove most beneficial if they include a blend of different mindsets and personalities within them. For some of my previous events, we’ve had attendees take Predictive Index and DISC (dominance, influence, steadiness and consciousness) behavioral assessments and used their results to form the small groups.”

This reaffirms the excitement that Yarnell and Morrison created and turns the electricity one notch higher. Of course, to do what they suggest, you would need the names of those in your session well ahead of time so you could get more information. But maybe it’s worth it. It’s almost the editorial equivalent of setting up customers and vendors at your events.

This isn’t just happening in our world. At our Corcoran School here in Washington, D.C. this week, GW University sent this out: “Join us for a lecture with [artist] Chantal James, of Rio de Janeiro, which will include a discussion and hands-on activity reacting to her project on decolonization.” And then I just received this: Paper Source invited me to a Valentine Card Making Workshop at their store next week. And they’ve tied it into the new film Emma. (Playing off of popular culture raises a whole other topic for another day.)

At BIMS, Dan Grech, founder and lead instructor of BizHack Academy, also quickly moved his attendees into groups for a hands-on marketing workshop. “The goal of today’s (very short) session was to generate peer interactions around shared areas of concern and opportunity,” he wrote to the group after. “You all collectively have the answers…” I heard good feedback from this session as well.

Workshops can also add to the networking that attendees are hungry for at your events, helping to build relationships among them that they can enhance later on. Achieving ROI from events is not just about attending the event as much as it’s about growing those relationships post-event. Perhaps that can lead to online discussion groups where attendees and speakers can continue the conversation, share resources, and recommend related online learning programs. Grech, for one, would hope this happens.

And speaking of speakers, doing an occasional workshop does give a session more of a beginning feel to a topic conversation, rather than an end. Instruct speakers to end their session with a “call to action” or “next step” for attendees. During the closing general session, announce a learning challenge. You could center it around a new approach to a thorny hot topic or the first steps to developing a new habit.

If it can get your audience moving and working together, all the better.