PR at the Cutting Edge

By James Knight.

Britain’s has always been an innovative country, so many inventors dating-back to the Industrial Revolution, with many world-beating companies. But do they get all the PR they deserve? 

For 38 years Tomorrow’s World was on the BBC and showcased new inventions. Today we don’t have a mainstream programme, there is a gem on BBC World Service called Click, presented by Spencer Kelly and Lara Lewington and the team, opening our eyes to new inventions from flying cars to new forms of jet travel. 

Often, however, inventions rely on word of mouth to reach the public’s attention. The perception can be that they are not ‘sexy’ enough to feature in the mainstream media. Not to blame the PR companies involved, if the public wants column inches devoted to Love Island or I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here then that is what they will get. 

Yet, companies which invent things like new medicine or technologies need our support and Parliament needs to support them more. 

For example, does the name Sir Frank Whittle mean much to you? He was the inventor of the Turbojet engine and for whom the Whittle Laboratory at Cambridge is named after. The lab is at the cutting-edge of development in aviation. 

Today, many people will not know about the Whittle Laboratories, yet it is one of the leaders in its field worldwide. Good, constructive PR is so important to organisations like these as they can make a difference to funding. Look at battery-powered or driverless cars and how many stories there are about them and the vast sums being spent on research, with great prospects for young graduates too. 

I hope the BBC gives more publicity to Click, we would all benefit from it going mainstream and giving those who develop new technologies the support and attention they deserve. 

In Britain we have great future industries with PR play a key role in their development. 

Professor James Knight is an international businessman, public relations practitioners and academic. He was Fellow of Bournemouth University Public Relations School, guest speaker at Judge Cambridge, Surrey, Bath and Reading, International Mentor for Oxford Brookes on Hospitality. He is a Fellow of CIPR and the Society of Public Relations of America, as well as a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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