Standing out from the crowd in earned and social media is tough for engineering companies: attention spans are short and the news agenda revolves around hot topics.


Major advances are few and far between – and even when they do come along, it’s important to most companies not to overplay them or make overblown claims. And there’s not much appetite for new product launches.


The reality for many businesses is that they are painfully aware of risk. Rather than sticking their neck out with untried messaging, they prefer to promote themselves on their heritage and proven technologies. Few want to follow the example set by Tesla, which faces intense scrutiny after falling short on ambitious targets.


And while some science and engineering stories gain widespread attention, like 2014’s biggest news story, the Rosetta space mission, others don’t break through. This is down to the luck of the draw in terms of the current news agenda.


Even if you’re a major player in a news story, headline coverage often comes with loss of control. For example, the focus of the Rosetta story shifted to the fashion choice of one scientist.


As a result, PR and marketing managers in the engineering sector often face pressure to make news out of products and services that are stable and mature. Potential spokespeople are often shy to come forward and creative ideas are often set aside to avoid risk.


So what can you do that is achievable?

Focusing on your objectives is always the best place to start and that often means that sales is the focus.


Thought leadership is a good way to drive sales by creating content that compels buyers to call your sales team. In the past, buyers would pick up the phone as the first step in their buying journey. However, today’s first point of contact is often digital search.


One thing that has not changed, however, is that buyers turn to the first company that helps them. Insightful and engaging content play a role here, for example by offering advice on future-proofing products or sharing the low-down on incoming regulations. Alternatively, customer case studies show buyers how products have been applied to solve real-world problems.


Once you have the messaging and material in place, it can be amplified by sharing in the media through byline articles, via social or on your own blog or website.


A good engineering PR agency can help by creating content and act as a sounding board on what works and what doesn’t. It can also help with securing approval for customer case studies and balancing business drivers with creative angles.