August 7, 2014

Reaction Engines Ltd: King of public relations.

Have you heard of Reaction Engines Ltd?  No?  What about that new engine that will allow us to fly halfway across the world in under four hours?  Yes, thought so.

Reaction Engines Ltd have not just promoted themselves, but they have managed to generate genuine excitement about their product. People feel that it is going to make a real difference to their lives.

Ah, you might say, this is because it IS a truly remarkable invention, it really will change my life. Yes it is. But it’s not the only one. The reason we all think like this is because of their excellent public relations and  switched on marketing. They also have excellent marketing ‘copy’ on their site – with the tagline : “The Greatest Advance in Propulsion since the Jet Engine.” It certainly gets our attention.

And there was the BBC 4 documentary. And the news bulletin, and the radio interview.  This company has worked public relations like a pro. And it has not been a quick process. Back in 2008 they recruited someone to work full time as their Public Communications Officer. Every month there was a news update on the website. Then leading up the the ‘great breakthough’ in November 2012 there was a series of press releases.

And finally, THAT press release. Here’s the first paragraph:

Press Release: Wednesday 28 November 2012:

Reaction Engines Ltd. can announce today the biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine. Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine which will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under 4 hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage, taking off and landing on a runway.

So why on earth have they bothered?  It probably costs to get those press releases written and that lovely website up and running and then maintained, and of course that full time Public Communications officer.  Why bother?  They are not selling to us, Joe Public are they?  I mean their customers are people who make planes and spaceships, there’s probably not  a whole load of them.  Why have such a full on marketing campaign?

Because of course long term they are selling to  us.  They are also making it very clear what their selling point and those of their customers (airlines) will be. For future business. Public expectation is that the airlines will take this on board and reduce our flight times. It’s less of a gamble if thousands of people worldwide are waiting and expecting it to happen.  Sowing the seeds of a long term marketing campaign.

Clever.  But then if you’ve invented the best thing since the jet engine then you’re not going to be stupid are you.  Frank Whittle may well have done a similar thing in his day. I’m not sure….