Guns and houses: seeing beyond 3D printing hype

Last week saw the Aspectus Engineering PR team attend the IET’s Young Professionals’ lecture ‘3D printing: The future of manufacturing?’ at the Royal Institution. We are currently managing a PR campaign promoting the IET’s series of Prestige Lectures and this […]


30 Oct
by Aspectus PR

3d printingLast week saw the Aspectus Engineering PR team attend the IET’s Young Professionals’ lecture ‘3D printing: The future of manufacturing?’ at the Royal Institution. We are currently managing a PR campaign promoting the IET’s series of Prestige Lectures and this particular lecture has generated a huge amount of interest.

The speaker, the University of Nottingham’s Professor of Innovative Manufacturing Richard Hague, discussed both the history of 3D printing and current applications of the technology, before providing the audience with an insight into the future of the sector. Unsurprisingly, the media’s perception of 3D printing came up several times during the lecture, and Richard explained how it had affected the technology in both a positive and negative way.

With the lofty expectations that consumer 3D printers will be able to build almost anything in the future, from guns to houses, the technology now sits at the pinnacle of Gartner’s famous Hype Cycle. However, Richard believes that this publicity has damaged the industry and warped the perception of 3D printing in the public’s consciousness. He even went so far as to suggest that the phrase ‘3D printing’ has been permanently tainted.

As such, Richard was at pains to draw a distinction between the household printers that have dominated the media, and the high-spec industrial devices that are driving innovation in the manufacturing sector. Richard preferred to use the technical term for the process – ‘additive manufacturing’ – and argued that the media hype surrounding 3D printing had distracted from its real benefits – i.e. that it can be used to print a range of practical components and devices.

For example, the technology is already reducing waste and increasing efficiency in the manufacturing supply chain by producing lightweight components, which are cheaper to ship, but still have the same functionality and structural integrity as the parts they are replacing.

Richard did concede that the hype has played a role in getting the technology in front of C-level executives who are now investing in additive manufacturing; so it can be seen as a double-edged sword.

Certainly from a PR perspective, hype can be useful in terms of bringing technology to the attention of potential buyers and a much wider audience, but hype is also unwieldy and must be managed. PR is about subtlety and clarity of message, whereas hype can easily amplify populist aspects of a story with scant thought for accuracy or detail.

3D printing brands have rushed to capitalise on the current wave of hype in order to fit with the news agenda, which has given them ‘quick wins’ in terms of coverage. However, in doing so, many have also inadvertently aligned themselves with narratives that have nothing to do with their messaging. The good news for additive manufacturing companies is that the hype surrounding the technology is on the wane and this recent article from the BBC is just one example of the media’s willingness to write more in-depth features on the use of 3D printing in industrial contexts.

Clearly, there is an opportunity for additive manufacturers to re-educate the media by communicating the real benefits of 3D printing and its true potential more clearly. Not only will this cut through the hype, it will ensure they generate quality coverage and position their brand front of mind for consumers and potential buyers alike.


UK Engineering and Technology funding boost announced at IET’s Mountbatten Memorial Lecture

Last week, Aspectus PR’s event marketing and engineering teams supported our Client, the IET, at the Mountbatten Memorial Lecture, which was this year presented by the Rt Hon David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science at the Royal Institution. During […]


18 Oct
by Aspectus PR

IET Mountbatten Memorial LectureLast week, Aspectus PR’s event marketing and engineering teams supported our Client, the IET, at the Mountbatten Memorial Lecture, which was this year presented by the Rt Hon David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science at the Royal Institution.

During the lecture Mr Willetts asserted that the UK’s broad ranging world-class science and research base is one of the country’s greatest assets. However, he also argued that in order for the UK to become a global leader, it will be necessary not just to invest in new and emerging technologies, but to apply the research available.

The Minister set out how the UK will tackle some of the greatest challenges society faces, like climate change, energy storage, food production, and population growth. He then outlined the eight technologies he sees having significant economic importance for the UK. These were big data, satellites, robots, modern genetics, regenerative medicine, agricultural technologies, advanced materials, and energy storage.

What is really encouraging is that Mr Willetts also announced that considerable government funding has been put aside to drive development of world-class technologies and scientific advances in the UK. This includes a £70-million Agri-Tech Catalyst, which will help new agricultural technologies bridge the so-called ‘valley of death’ between research and application; £44 million for projects to monitor ocean currents in the North Atlantic; £3.5 million to develop innovative tools and services like gene sequencing for the UK synthetic biology industry; and £15 million for King’s College London to create a Research and Innovation Hub at Guy’s Hospital.

The Mountbatten Memorial Lecture is one of the nine Prestige Lectures Aspectus is promoting on behalf of the IET. The third lecture in the series is the IET Young Professionals’ Event. Being held on Thursday 24 October 2013 at the Royal Institution, it will be delivered by Richard Hague and focus on the future role of 3D printing in manufacturing.

All the lectures are free to attend, so if you are involved in engineering and technology, do make some time in your diary and we hope to see you there.

For further information and to register go to: http://conferences.theiet.org/lectures/


New wave of wearable technology promises more accuracy, efficiency and innovation in healthcare

The wearable technology market is growing rapidly as the adoption of novel and inventive gadgets continues in the fitness and healthcare sectors. Google Glass and smart watches such as the rumoured iWatch and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear are contributing to the […]


16 Oct
by Aspectus PR

Wearable-technology-healthcareThe wearable technology market is growing rapidly as the adoption of novel and inventive gadgets continues in the fitness and healthcare sectors. Google Glass and smart watches such as the rumoured iWatch and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear are contributing to the fresh wave of wearable tech, with the healthcare industry in particular proving a focus due to the improvements in accuracy and efficiency such technology innovations can bring.

Philips Healthcare for example, released a proof of concept demo of how Google Glass could make its mark in the operating theatre, with patient records and information readily available both prior to and during surgery. Efficiency and cleanliness will also be improved: doctors and surgeons will simply need to glance upwards to see the patient’s statistics and information, instead of moving away to a screen and using a keyboard and mouse.

Google Glass could also deliver improvements to paramedics. The feature that allows others to see what you see could enable healthcare professionals to provide guidance remotely to paramedics out in the field. In a consultative sense, this functionality could also benefit GPs and industry experts, while possibly performing an educational function for medical students.

Similarly, smart watches could be applied in the healthcare sector and used for patient monitoring. A patient’s diet, fitness and levels of exercise could all be tracked and sent from the patient to the doctor via the messaging function, enabling detailed and accurate sharing of patient data.

The potential benefits of Google Glass, as well as smart watches, Thimble Bioelectronics and healthcare-centric apps mean that wearable tech continues to prove attractive for investors. Certainly, the future looks promising and PR opportunities abound if these technologies can be implemented effectively to deliver demonstrable results.


Financial Times to consolidate print editions in digital push

Last week, the Financial Times announced plans to launch a single edition, global print product in the next year. In a lengthy memo published online last Wednesday, editor Lionel Barber shared the next steps in the FT’s ‘digital first’ strategy, […]


15 Oct
by Aspectus PR

financial-times_digitalLast week, the Financial Times announced plans to launch a single edition, global print product in the next year. In a lengthy memo published online last Wednesday, editor Lionel Barber shared the next steps in the FT’s ‘digital first’ strategy, including a focus on ‘smart aggregation of content from our own journalists and third parties’.

The production of the newspaper will be driven by the website, rather than the reverse, prompting a change in working practices and a shift in resources to FT.com. Late nights will be changed to early mornings, as ‘production journalists will publish stories to meet peak viewing times on the web rather than old print deadlines.’ This also marks an important shift for PR professionals, who must collaborate with digital editors working to new deadlines, in order to ease the transition towards a new digital-focused workflow.

The memo also outlines a considered strategy to move from ‘reactive news gathering to value-added “news in context”’, which places greater emphasis on ‘pre-planning and intelligent commissioning’. Certainly this is a smart reaction to changing reading habits, evolving patterns of media consumption, and an acknowledgement that Twitter has emerged as an essential source of breaking news. Interestingly, it also marks a move towards focusing on more analytical and long-form articles as a point of differentiation in an age of instant media gratification.

Crucially, this shift suggests there is still a demand for thought-provoking, quality journalism, regardless of format. Although the print edition will remain an important part of the FT’s multi-platform offering, its metered paywall has proved a commercial success at a time when many major news websites still rely on the traditional ad-supported business model. The FT now had a subscriber base of 600,000, with digital subscriptions outnumbering print sales by more than 100,000.

Moreover, engagement has also been a key driving force behind the FT’s approach. The appointment of Stacy-Marie Ishmael as vice president of communities is indicative of the FT’s commitment to forging a genuine relationship with its audience. The launch of fastFT (a live reporting and comment service), featured reader comments on the homepage and the development of a strong social media offering gives consumers the option to access content based on their own preferences.

It’s a challenging yet exciting time for digital content delivery. Last month, Lloyd’s List announced that it would be digital-only moving forward, a significant development for a title with an illustrious 279-year history. Indeed, it appears we are fast approaching a digital watershed, and those publications that anticipate change and react fastest will be the ones that reap the benefits. The FT falls within this category, but future success will depend on the flexibility of news producers to disseminate high-quality, original content in a commercially viable way.


Why now is the time for a healthy dose of PR in the healthcare sector

The NHS and wider healthcare sector in the UK is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. An ageing population and the rising prevalence of chronic disease mean demand for patient services is rising at a time when NHS budgets are […]


11 Oct
by Aspectus PR

Aspectus PR - PR logoThe NHS and wider healthcare sector in the UK is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. An ageing population and the rising prevalence of chronic disease mean demand for patient services is rising at a time when NHS budgets are being allocated on a flat cash basis and standards of care are under the microscope.

In addition to substantial structural reform brought about by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the UK government is looking to deliver on its vision of a paperless NHS, with digital health records for all UK residents to be rolled out by 2018. With an estimated £5 billion (or potentially more) of savings required annually, healthcare IT departments need new and innovative ways to drive cost efficiencies while ensuring quality of patient care is maintained.

While these are significant challenges, they also present a huge opportunity for suppliers. If you target the UK healthcare sector, there has never been a better time to invest in PR, get your message out to the market and showcase how your innovations and expertise can make a real difference.

Aspectus PR has a proven track record of raising the profile of our clients in the healthcare sector.

We’ve helped players such as R&D company Sagentia, RES Software, and LOC Consulting translate their offerings and capabilities into compelling media stories and highly effective social media campaigns that have resulted in quality coverage in publications such as Information Daily, International Hospital and Public Finance Magazine. We’ve also managed campaigns for major healthcare events including UBM’s Future Health & Care Expo.

Hitting healthcare issues head on, demonstrating intimate knowledge of the sector and nurturing closer media relationships to engage with your audience more effectively delivers real results.

Get in touch if you would like to find out more about how we can support you in this market.


Amazon’s ‘Mayday’ feature could revolutionise B2B tech support

The launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX promises to transform the way technical support and customer service is delivered. Hitting the new ‘Mayday’ button provides users with an almost instant connection to a member of Amazon’s support team, who pops […]


03 Oct
by Aspectus PR

KIndle Fire HDXThe launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX promises to transform the way technical support and customer service is delivered. Hitting the new ‘Mayday’ button provides users with an almost instant connection to a member of Amazon’s support team, who pops up on the Kindle screen to lend a helping hand. According to Amazon, the service will bring clear benefits, including:

  • Drastically reduced wait times compared to calling tech support teams
  • Rapid resolution of user issues through step-by-step guidance
  • Fixing of issues unresolved by the user through remote access to their device

As with any new technological development, the feature has been questioned, mainly in terms of security. For businesses, the main concern relates to BYOD and sensitive information. If a member of Amazon’s support team has access to a tablet’s screen then confidential documents may be viewed. Support staff, however, have access to exactly the same information as they would if the device had been brought into a shop to be fixed. In addition, the screen-share capability of the device can be switched off by the user, for increased peace of mind.

Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has said that customers should not be afraid of the technology they use, and the Mayday function aims to ensure that this holds true for the everyday consumer as well as the more demanding business user. For the latter, customer service levels that promise to exceed expectations, improved productivity through connection to a corporate VPN and Microsoft Exchange support make the Kindle Fire HDX a compelling proposition.

If it proves successful, Mayday not only sets the bar high in respect of customer services, but it could provide a new model for B2B technology companies looking to provide much stronger support for their customers than that currently offered by Apple’s in-store support staff, or the support that Microsoft, Google or Samsung provides over the phone.

Certainly, analysts believe that this is possible, and suggest that if the feature was developed further, it could allow the Mayday button to link to tech support teams within a business. This would increase adoption of the device in the corporate domain, but may ignore its main purpose in that the internal tech support member will not be an Amazon expert.

Nevertheless, if B2B and consumer-focused companies look to keep pace with the standards set by Amazon, a customer service revolution could yield extensive PR opportunities, as well as boosting customer ratings and the bottom line.


A brave new world: Lloyd’s List Digital

You really can’t stand in the way of progress. The digital media revolution has resulted in sweeping changes across the media landscape in a relatively short period of time. Nothing could hammer this point home more than the forthcoming closure […]


30 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Lloyds List Digital

You really can’t stand in the way of progress. The digital media revolution has resulted in sweeping changes across the media landscape in a relatively short period of time. Nothing could hammer this point home more than the forthcoming closure of Lloyd’s List’s print edition.

Today’s media industry has a lot to thank Lloyd’s List for. The publication is the world’s oldest newspaper and the 300-year evolution of the press owes much to the early development of this title.

Despite being a very difficult decision from an historical standpoint, it seems a comparatively easy decision from a commercial point of view. Irrespective of the global demand for its content, only 25 customers were requesting the edition in print! As Editor Richard Meade succintly pointed out, readers today access it digitally from any coffee shop in the world, rather than exclusively from a Lloyd’s Coffee House as was the case in the 18th century.

What does that mean for other print media? Time will tell, but we can be certain that the media and PR industry will evolve and thrive whatever the changes.


65th Emmy Awards prove the PR power of the soundbyte

The Emmys are the who’s who of television and a night of glamour, glitz, champagne and caviar. And although the 2013 Emmy Awards may have come and gone, there was an acceptance speech this year that broke the mold. The […]


27 Sep
by Aspectus PR

The Emmys are the who’s who of television and a night of glamour, glitz, champagne and caviar. And although the 2013 Emmy Awards may have come and gone, there was an acceptance speech this year that broke the mold. The following is an in-depth (albeit not dissertation-length) analysis of why every company spokesperson can take a few tips from this said actress:

Merritt Wever – Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Nurse Jackie

A+++

It was the acceptance speech heard ‘round the world that gained instant ‘buzz-worthiness’ in all corners of the internet. As the ‘underdog’ on the night, Wever became a PR reps’ dream as she delivered what is surely the shortest Emmy acceptance speech of all time. Beating out industry heavyweights such as Modern Family’s Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, and Jane Krakowski from 30 Rock; a blatantly shocked and overwhelmed Merritt gave a heartfelt: “Thank you so much!” Then she whispered: “Um… I gotta go… Bye,” before hastily exiting stage right.

Despite its apparent brevity, there are many reasons why this speech was so amazing and helped catapult Merritt’s name into the limelight. For starters, Merritt took the unbeaten path with acceptance speeches. Instead of rattling out a list of producers, directors, writers, fellow actors, friends, family, neighbors down the street (you get the idea…), Merritt gave in to the human emotion of surprise in the best way – avoiding anything along the lines of: “I can’t believe this. I’m shocked. I’m speechless.” Instead, she let her actions do the talking, and the ingenuity of it all was a breath of fresh air from the canned acceptance speeches of Emmys past.

At Aspectus PR, we counsel our clients to give thought-provoking and unique industry commentary to journalists. That way, they are viewed as an unmatchable source for the press. Merritt gave a speech that was unlike any other, and she got noticed for it. Moments after she left the stage, journalists across the world were instantly looking up if it was Merritt with two “t’s” and Wever with or without an “a”.

We also advise our spokespeople to stay concise during interviews. To take a page out of Merritt’s playbook, providing “soundbytes” during the call increases your chance of getting quoted in their story. Why use seventeen sentences to answer a reporter’s question when you can give a snappy and quotable answer in three? Merritt’s speech became a soundbyte that will surely be used in Emmy montages for years to come. And speaking of soundbytes, we can’t help but agree with Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris’ quip afterwards: “Merritt Wever, best speech ever.”

And on that note:


How would social media have influenced the @LehmanBrothers #collapse today?

At risk of sounding like another yawn worthy ‘what has changed five years on from Lehman Brothers’ blog, we thought it would be interesting to explore how the biggest banking collapse in living memory might have played out in today’s world […]


24 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Lehman_BrothersAt risk of sounding like another yawn worthy ‘what has changed five years on from Lehman Brothers’ blog, we thought it would be interesting to explore how the biggest banking collapse in living memory might have played out in today’s world of social media.

Sure, an unnerving lack of internal and external communications may have helped fuel the collapse of the investment bank, but 2008 was a time when hashtags could be misconstrued as the latest smoking craze amongst suburban youths, and an API was more likely to be confused with an exotic derivative. In 2008, it was traditional media that ruled the roost in financial services, well, just about.

This was a period where the minds of the press were racing faster than Dick Fuld on a million dollar speedboat. Journos across the globe waited anxiously, pens poised, for the latest announcement from the US Federal Reserve. And the ‘will they won’t they?’ possibility of a bailout for Lehman seemed to last an eternity as Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner and co. held the financial fate of millions in their hands.

How times have changed. Today, Twitter is a primary source for news before it breaks. Unfortunately however, it is not necessarily the greatest tool for making sense of what is being said.

When it comes to something as complex as the sub-prime mortgage collapse, where even those with a rudimentary knowledge of financial services would be unlikely to know the difference between a CDS and a CDO, information broken by a medium such as Twitter could easily have been misunderstood, or the source misinformed. In the case of Lehman Brothers, would trending topics or messages such as ‘BofA is going to buy Lehman Brothers,’ have changed how investors reacted? Or would a ‘@Bernanke backs Barclays bid for Lehman Brothers’ tweet have prevented already nervous investors from pulling their money sooner? Imagine if the BofA acquisition of Merrill Lynch was rumoured over Twitter ahead of time?

Granted, it is always difficult to predict how markets would react, but in an era where more firms are embracing social media analysis as part of long and short term trading strategies, it is hard to imagine Twitter not having some impact, if not just for the sheer speed of which it communicates information. Twitter serves up a constant stream of updates as situations progress. The good news is that the overtly vocal nature of Twitter means other people, often working in comms, tend to immediately correct these errors, which would have been important in the case of Lehman Brothers.

As many still struggle to fully comprehend the events of 2008, it’s hard to imagine how, from a communications perspective, Twitter would have made life easier for those taking the decisions that changed the world. This is not to say that Twitter is without its benefits. Indeed, more and more firms are finding new ways to accurately separate credible data from the general social noise.

One thing’s for certain, firms in the financial services arena can no longer choose to ignore the influence of Twitter as a part of their communications strategy.


Bridging the skills gap: The need for improved communication within the oil and gas industry

At the conclusion of Offshore Europe, Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK declared the 2013 conference a resounding success.


19 Sep
by Aspectus PR

Offshore Europe 2013At the conclusion of Offshore Europe, Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK declared the 2013 conference a resounding success. With a record breaking number of visitors and high profile public figures such as Chancellor George Osborne, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Princess Anne in attendance, it is no surprise that the conference made headlines.

The week’s keynote speakers covered a variety of pressing topics, ranging from decommissioning to the advancement of offshore technology. However, a common thread ran through each: the need for a collaborative approach when tackling key issues within the industry.

Given that time constraints and the finite nature of resources have bred an underlying competitiveness extending beyond market leaders and across the industry, there has been little scope for collaboration in the past.

Nevertheless, it appears attitudes are changing when it comes to addressing the high profile problem of the skills gap that exists within the oil and gas industry, and the idea of cooperation in order to create a pool of talented prospective employees was very much embraced. With the organisation OPITO standing as an existing example of corporate collaboration, through its work to implement skills development initiatives in the oil and gas sector, it’s apparent that putting an end to the growing skills crisis is a shared goal.

The point, at which this growing sense of collaboration ends, is in the active reporting of the issue. Professor John Watson from Robert Gordon University, speaking on behalf of oil and gas skills organisation, OGAS, highlighted the issue of communication. Watson stated that in order to address the skills gap, reliable statistics charting the specific areas of concern, are vital to formulating a solution.

The need for accurate analysis was echoed succinctly by the audience as query after query arose from conference delegates, urging the panel to exhibit unambiguous evidence of this skills gap. From that point onwards, it became strikingly clear that the present skills crisis has been amplified by evident PR failures within both leading organisations and international oil and gas companies. Identification of the issue is substantially present within coverage – it is the next step of audience engagement which is being neglected.

With more than 60,000 in attendance for Offshore Europe, it’s clear that the industry as a whole is keen to work together on this issue. ­­­Nevertheless, these efforts are nullified without accurate and well-defined communication.