Issue: 9/01

My congratulations go out to Harris Consulting Engineers, Hughes Associates, Syska & Hennessey, the RJA Group, Freese and Nichols, Vanderweil Engineers, RNL Design, Ellerbe Becket, SME Consulting Engineers, CRS Engineering and Design Consultants and O'Dea & Associates. All of these companies have had press releases published in this magazine so far in 2001, and they know something the vast majority of their competitors doesn't.

Which is that publicity is good for you. And, except for the miniscule price of stationery and postage, it's FREE! Thus, it's about the best bargain you can find in the business world.

The great mystery is why so few engineering firms take advantage of this opportunity to get something for virtually nothing. Considering that we have upwards of 25,000 subscribers, there's no way I should be able to single out a handful of engineering firms the way I just did.

Maybe some of them figure it's more important to keep in touch with their local media than the national trade press. If so, they are absolutely correct. For most business activities, a media presence in the communities you serve would promote your interests better than we can. Yet, I suspect that almost everyone who ignores us is also giving the cold shoulder at the local level.

Most engineering firms just don't get it when it comes to the value of publicity. They think that because they gain most of their business from existing clientele and referrals, they have no need to toot their horn. Some even think it's beneath their dignity.

People who think like that are way too dignified. You have much more to gain than lose by spreading the word about what's happening with your company. I can think of many reasons, two of which are so powerful they will suffice by themselves.

1. Publicity builds name recognition and reputation. The more people who know your company's name, the better, whether it be potential clients or top-notch employees in another organization. It's unlikely you'll ever be able to link a blurb in the local press to a specific project award or key hire. Most people won't even remember how they heard of you. But the more they see your name in print, the more reputable you become to them.

An old adage in the PR business holds that "the only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity." There's a kernel of truth to it. People remember the name of a company or individual long after they forget the context.

2. It builds morale within the company. People feel proud to work for an organization whose name appears in the media. And they walk on clouds when they see themselves recognized for an award, promotion, milestone or some accomplishment.

I recently received a press release from Harris Consulting Engineers of Las Vegas headlined, "Talented Young Engineer Joins HCE Staff." It was about their hiring Ms. Leslie Sabo right out of Arizona State University. Hardly stop-the-presses news, and it's uncertain how many publications picked it up. Yet, isn't that a nice gesture to make on behalf of a new employee? Don't you think it made the young lady feel like a million bucks just to see the news release filled with her biographical detail?

Another common excuse for avoiding publicity is simply that there's nothing going on in your company worth publicizing. That's stinkin' thinkin'! There is ALWAYS something going on in your company worth publicizing.

There are new employees, people promoted, employee and company milestones, awards and honors, new or expanded facilities, new services or markets, industry and community services rendered, human interest stories about your staff, charitable endeavors, projects awarded/completed, articles published, association leadership positions attained, speeches delivered, and now I must stop before we run out of ink.

Besides sending out press releases, consider the PR value from letters to the editor and appearing as an industry expert and/or spokesperson on issues relevant to your business. In fact, one of the ways to get people to think of you as an industry expert is to send out a steady stream of news releases and commentary.

What's so undignified about hanging your head high and telling the world what you do?