Why you need to befriend the engineers in your company

Oil and water. It’s not the only thing that doesn’t mix well. What else can you think of?

What about communicator and engineer? On one hand, you have someone who is good with words and bad with numbers. On the other, you have someone who is bad with words and good with numbers.

Of course these are just stereotypes. But like all stereotypes, there’s a little truth to them.

Even if you don’t have engineers in your organization, if you work in an enterprise-level environment, you will likely have a STEM-heavy corps of experts like biochemists, techies or mathematicians contributing to the operational innovation of your organization.

The keyword here is innovation. It’s a trendy keyword that communicators love to use, but in order to take full advantage of the innovation trend, it pays to engage directly with the actual people who are doing the innovating: the STEM people! (No, this isn’t some b-movie about plants that take over the world).

The first reason you’ll want to connect with these folks is because they are potential subject matter experts (SMEs) who can give you the inside scoop at an expert level.

The media love experts.

University communications teams do this well. Each academic department has a media contact and a roster of spokespeople consisting of professors and researchers on subjects ranging from philosophy to criminology. Whenever you see an academic offering their take on a news trend, you’re experiencing the power of a communications team effectively connecting their SMEs to the media.

This leads to the second reason for befriending these people. By getting to know them, you’ll be able to assess their natural ability to communicate. Are they a good candidate to put in front of the media? Or maybe they’ll need some coaching. Or maybe you don’t want to put them in front of a reporter at all. If you know this before you get a media inquiry, then it’s a whole lot easier to respond with speed.

The third and final reason is story mining. Since you are a communicator, you can probably spot stories before anyone else. Through casual conversation and questioning, you can get a sense of what’s coming down the pipe. That gives you a chance to plan the story and mould it in a way that works best for your business objectives.