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Making PR easy for engineers – A case study

June 12, 2012

Today’s post is courtesy of Franceen Shaughnessy, an account manager at Rhino Public Relations. Questions or comments? Contact her at franceen@rhinopr.com, Twitter @RhinoPRFranceen or visit www.rhinopr.com.

A 500-person national engineering with seven offices is interested in launching a PR program and has tasked you, the marketing/PR professional, with the assignment. Launching a PR program is an exciting opportunity but be prepared for some internal resistance.

So how do you break down the barriers and bring the engineers over to the dark side? By following these guidelines:

  1. Know your goals and milestones. Take a hard and realistic look at the firm both internally and externally. Who is the target audience? What does the firm hope to accomplish? What are the key messages? What is the culture of the firm? Answering these questions honestly can help develop obtainable goals and milestones that will generate results. The results can help you make a stronger argument to the rest of the company about the importance of PR.
  2. Be an internal champion. Be an advocate for PR and whenever possible do it person. Nothing builds relationships better than face-to-face interactions. Get out there and talk to the engineers. Educate them on PR and also let them educate you on their projects. Engineers are modest and they never think that what they are working on is worth PR. Ask them what they are working on? Most likely, it’s some interesting new project. Provide them with some positive reinforcement that their work is interesting and worthy of sharing it with others outside the industry.
  3. Be a resource. Engineers are busy. They have their own projects, clients, and deadlines to meet so taking time to do PR might not be a top priority. Find out how you can help them make this happen in the least obtrusive manner possible. PR is new to them as well so let them know that you want to help them get in front of clients. Sometimes this means sending reminders to ghostwriting an article. However, being a resource can help them overcome this challenge.
  4. Consistently follow through. This might sound obvious but when busy it’s easy to let a task fall through the cracks. However, if you say that you are going to help an engineer with a task then be sure and do it. He shouldn’t have to take time to check in with you on a PR need, that’s your job so be sure to communicate updates to him throughout the process.
  5. Track metrics. For traditional PR, it’s difficult to directly track a return on investment but that doesn’t mean it should be completely ignored. Follow up with engineers after a speaking opportunity to see if they made any new connections. Ask them if they heard back from any readers about the article that was just published.

Following these guidelines can help overcome the barriers and bring engineers onboard with PR. And before you know it instead of you searching them out for PR opportunities, they will be contacting you.

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