The power of the press

Feb. 1, 2012
Whether you earn just a pittance or a fortune, one of the rewards of any job is a letter of praise from your employer, customers, or suppliers.

Whether you earn just a pittance or a fortune, one of the rewards of any job is a letter of praise from your employer, customers, or suppliers. While many anticipate or even expect such gifts as sales or Christmas bonuses from their employers, less pecuniary praise from those outside organizations can be more rewarding.

When such commendations come from little-known companies who may not have expected their services to be recognized, the rewards are even greater.

Being a member of the press, I often discover such companies at trade shows or by scouring numerous web sites. Often, these companies have developed products that, while technologically outstanding, are not well promoted.

You can imagine my delight, then, at a recent trade show when I was approached by some gentlemen with rather large smiles on their faces. They seemed very pleased that our magazine was exhibiting and that our editorial and sales teams were present in force.

After looking down at my badge, they immediately recognized me as the head honcho and chief bottle washer. After realizing who I was, I was politely informed that it was not me that they were looking for butour senior editor, Dave Wilson. My ego was deflated as fast as a balloon-fish in a tank of piranhas.

Since Dave had only been writing forVision Systems Design for a period of six months, I asked him later what all the fuss had been about. Apparently, he had discovered a little-known UK company with some quite amazing technology that he had decided to publish on our web site.

Although the company had placed the information on their own web site, it transpired that they hadn't really wanted the information disseminated widely. Once the story had been published, however, the company had received numerous inquiries and orders for the product from the far reaches of the globe. They even had to send more personnel to the trade show to meet the number of people that needed more technical information. Needless to say, they had nothing bad to say about my brother, our magazine, or its circulation of online news.

Having worked on the magazine for nearly two decades and seeing the "new kid" on the block being praised in such a fashion, I felt like Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes.

With thelarge amount of information avenues such as magazines, web sites, social media sites, and blogs now available, the role of the public relations person has become even more important. When developing novel products and technologies, however, many companies still somehow believe that little or no marketing effort is needed to sell them.

In this issue, for example, you may read about some very interesting technological developments that are not described as fully—or at all—on the web sites of the companies that have produced them. Perhaps it's time for engineers and engineering managers to take a more proactive role in letting their management know that they should promote the products they are developing in such a way. Maybe then I too will receive some accolades for fine investigative journalism.

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