What is engineering PR?
An engineering company needs PR and marketing assistance much like any other business. Whether to attract scientists, engineers or mathematicians to apply for jobs at your firm, generate leads from prospective customers or attract investment, engineering PR is about building the profile and protecting the reputation of your business.
As an engineering firm, your needs will be very sector specific and require a certain approach to achieve results. Most engineering firms are, as the name suggests, made up of predominantly engineers – who might not be that familiar with PR and all it entails. At Topline, we’re an experienced engineering PR agency that understands the unique challenges engineering companies face – and gets a kick out of the work they do. And so, we decided to put together this blog to help you get the most value, and best results, from your PR efforts.
Outline your objectives and budget
Before you start drafting content or dreaming up headlines, you need to decide what it is you want your PR campaign to achieve. This could be one of numerous things: increasing sales leads, attracting visitors to your website, generating job applications or enhancing your reputation.
With objective stated clearly upfront, you can use your current performance as a benchmark, and set measurable milestones along the way (e.g. inbound leads generated by month; organic web traffic or online searches for your company name) to track what‘s working and what isn’t. This way, if you need to make any changes to the campaign to boost results, you can do so immediately.
Never start any PR activities without a set budget in place. Your budget will guide your entire PR strategy, help you choose your tactics and provide a realistic goal.
Know your audience
A good PR strategy is relevant and understands its audience. It knows who they are, what they read and listen to, what keeps them awake at night, what their competition is doing, and how to react to industry trends such as new technology and legislation. Your audience will guide the content you create, how you package it and where you share it.
Typically, engineering audiences want to know about innovations that can help them save time and money or help them reduce waste. They also want real-life examples that include details of the savings that have been made elsewhere which is why case studies make for valuable content.
Build your target media list
Once you know your audience, you will be able to get started on building out your target media list. This might include print and online publications like The Engineer and Science Daily. But it should also consider engineering podcasts and social media like reddit.
Produce your content
Once you know who you want to engage with, it’s time to plan how to engage them. When choosing your communication channels, the PESO model – which stands for Purchased (such as advertising or advertorial) Earned (traditional media outlets) Shared (social media) and Owned (your own email, website and blogs) – is not a bad guide.
Brainstorm newsworthy campaign ideas and develop them into stories for each of your target media. It’s worth making the most of content by re-working each piece for a variety of different channels. But be careful, don’t copy and paste identical text, especially if you’re placing stories in the media. Editors don’t like to publish duplicate content as it hurts their search engine performance. It will also risk their reputation with their readers, who expect high-quality publications to carry only unique content.
Follow the rules of engagement
When placing content in the media, remember that editors and journalists are all busy people. Whether they work at a broadcaster, a national title, a specialist trade or technical publication, their time is stretched thin. Typically, journalists receive hundreds of emails every day on a multitude of topics, so it’s not easy to get their attention.
To stand out from the crowd and build relationships, you will need to follow some rules of engagement. Make sure your story is newsworthy (if in doubt, check with a neutral third party). Get to the point quickly, avoid technical and sales-y jargon, and include high-quality images in high-resolution (preferably including real people in a real situation).
Make sure you do your homework and only pitch stories to relevant editors. If you do get a bite, answer any follow-up questions quickly. Keep to the word count, follow editorial guidelines to the letter and respect their deadlines. If the editor asks for your feedback on the draft, review it for factual accuracy but don’t go changing sentences.
Monitor and measure your campaign
Measuring PR activity can be tricky – particularly for engineering companies. The sales function is often long and complex, with multiple touch points and decision-makers.
For example, in the lead up to a bid, an Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contractor will have links with contacts in commercial, technical and managerial teams – some being one-to-one relationships and others based on reputation. At the other end of the spectrum, a manufacturer of engineered components will often have connections with a chain of distributors and wholesalers and few direct links with buyers.
PR can support both businesses, but it’s hard to measure sales in isolation from other activities. Therefore, it’s worth apportioning a percentage of sales success to PR on the basis that it is a team effort.
PR can also be measured by, for example, the number of published stories in specific media, both online and print. However, these don’t measure the real impact on the business’ bottom line, so they can’t be the only PR measurement. We also like to look at leads generated, links built to your website, inbound enquiries from journalists, changes in organic traffic and increases in branded searches (i.e. searches for your company name) as good indicators as to the effectiveness of engineering PR. Sometimes we also benchmark with annual surveys about the company’s brand recognition and reputation.
If you follow these rules, you’ll build trust and editors will come back to you when they are looking for news and comment on other topics.
When done right, engineering PR can really deliver excellent business results. If you have any questions or would like any help, get in touch with our directors.