Design services is one of the big UK success stories of the past 50 years – firmly establishing the UK as an international hub of out-sourced innovation, R&D and engineering expertise with an array of hugely successful companies based in and around Cambridge.
Companies such as Plextek, CDP, Team Consulting and TTP work with some of the world’s biggest brands and have developed countless products that you probably come across every day, spun out companies worth billions and created hundreds of thousands of jobs.
All things considered they have probably done more for the UK than the more vaunted (well, until recently anyway…) financial services sector. And yet, chances are you’ve probably never heard of any of these companies.
There is a reason for this, most easily encapsulated in a quote I saw recently on one our client’s own websites: “There are many leading products that we have developed, we just can’t tell you about them for reasons of confidentiality”.
This is a phrase that comes up a lot in design services, and obviously for us humble tech PRs this can be hugely frustrating. However, this is the reality of working with design services companies – in all likelihood these companies will never get to talk about their best or their most important work in public.
So how do you deal with this significant challenge? Here are my top tips for design services PR:
Put the experts front and centre
Design services companies employ some of the world’s leading experts on anything from wireless communications to product design, from consumer tech to manufacturing. Spokespeople don’t just have to talk about the latest project they’re working on – use their years of experience in a particular field to your advantage.
Everyone wants the inside track from acknowledged experts – so build your spokespeople’s profiles and find them opportunities to demonstrate their expertise – whether that is at events or guest blogs or in direct interviews.
Spin the business story
These companies aren’t just about technology for its own sake – they are the engine of the tech sector in the UK. They may not be able to name names when it comes to customers, but design services companies are uniquely positioned – working with the world’s biggest companies to the latest startups in a huge array of industry sectors. They are also incubators for future hot startups and are often the place to look for the next big thing.
This gives them unique perspectives on industry trends and this different spin is exactly what business desks are after – so make sure the business press is a key part of your PR strategy.
Make the most of the heritage of innovation
Ever since the financial crisis the subject of innovation has been high on the agenda as people look for solutions to the current issues. Handily for design services companies innovation is their bread and butter – and they’ve been doing it for decades.
Use it to your advantage – they are perfectly placed to comment on the bigger picture of innovation. There are plenty of angles to explore: How do they ensure a continuous stream of new ideas? How do they structure their work? What do they look for in their employees?
Our job is to find the right one for the right opportunity.
Embrace their creativity
Everyone is interested in new ideas, and design services are a never-ending source of new thoughts, new concept developments and new prototypes. They may not be finished products, but these concepts and prototypes generate interest, start discussions and can be a goldmine for PR.
Capture these ideas and package them up to create demonstrations of creative thinking. There’s loads of ways to get these ideas out there creatively – whether that’s with imagery, video or interactive content – but it’s all about showing the possibilities of new ideas.