The Small to Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) had designed many bespoke computer-based systems using off-the-shelf components and software

The Small to Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) had designed many bespoke computer-based systems using off-the-shelf components and software, and by doing so had brought them to market in a record period of time.

The new marketing manager immediately recognised that this expertise could, and should, be promoted more to the folks in the media. So he set about building up a rapport with the editors of some well known trade magazines to introduce them to some of the systems that the company’s engineers had developed.

One editor he spoke to was keen to find out more about what the company was up to. So the marketing chap hooked the editor into a three-way telephone conversation with his engineering counterpart, hoping that it might result in the creation of an article that would describe in some detail the design of one of the company’s more innovative systems.

Sadly, however, the engineering manager, who had been with the company for a number of years, was suspicious of the whole publicity machine. He realised that, although the description of his designs might make for some very interesting reading, the last thing he really wanted was to publicise the fact that they had been developed using off-the-shelf hardware and software.

He felt that disclosing that information to his customers, or his competitors, would not be in his best interest, or the interest of the company. So on the day of the interview, he was reluctant to provide any more than a hand-waving overview of the system to the hapless technical editor.

After the interview, the hard-working editor did go away and put pen to paper to salvage what he could from the conversation. But it was to no avail. The piece simply did not contain enough technical content, and our editor quickly realised that he would need more detail from the company before the article would be fit to publish.

Unaware of the fact that the engineering manager had an agenda of his own, the editor presented the rough draft to the marketing manager with a request for more information to bolster the article’s technical credentials. Sadly, however, that draft was then duly passed on to the engineering manager for comment.

Realising that he had to do something to protect his position, the engineering manager decided to attack the credentials of the editor, decrying his work as ineffectual and incompetent. The rough draft, he said, would need to be completely rewritten before it could be published, a job which he had neither the time nor the inclination to perform.

The editor was shocked and stunned by the reproach. Having spent ten years successfully writing articles, he could not understand what had happened. Until one day, a few months later when, just by chance, he found himself interviewing the very company that the SME was buying its hardware and software from.
This comment was originally published in the Electronicstalk Newsletter

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About the Author

Electronicstalk and this Editor's Blog are edited by Laurence Marchini

Laurence Marchini

Laurence Marchini began his career in the electronics press with the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1980, cutting his teeth on a variety of learned and member publications, ranging from IEE Proceedings to Electronics and Power. He moved on to join the launch team of the innovative weekly Electronics Express in 1986, and became Editor just 18 months later. Sadly, Electronics Express lasted just four and a half years, wound up by the infamous Robert Maxwell. However, Laurence had already jumped ship and joined the world of electronics PR with the agency of the 1990s, Smith and Jones Communications. It seemed Laurence was lost to the world of journalism. But after 11 years we managed to lure him back as launch editor of Electronicstalk. Laurence is married to Sally and has a young son, Alexander.

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