Technology Media Relations

A Media Relations Case Study for a Global Nanotechnology Company

An advanced composite materials company spun off from its parent company, moved to Ohio and completed five years of R&D with nearly $1.5 million dollars in grants from NASA and Third Frontier (the State of Ohio’s development office). This client was the first to commercialize products made with carbon nanotube technology (CNT). After making CNT-products for stronger sporting goods, lighter boats and durable bridge repairs, the company wanted to build relationships with the national news media by telling a story about future technologies. This effort would attract investors, customers, defense contractors, and potential acquisition suitors.

Two challenges faced this company. Even with an almost 15-year history, nanotechnology was still being perceived as science fiction and not real-world. CNTs were also considered expensive over traditional metals such as steel and aluminum. We held a strategic messaging session and conducted media training before the company’s marine division debuted its 54′ boat that would typically weigh 40,000 pounds. With CNTs, it weighed only 8,000 pounds and set record fuel efficiencies after sea trials near the Puget Sound. A PR complication was how to convey tangible, cost effective applications that showed the company changing the way products are manufactured while staying focused on being a technology provider and not a manufacturer that challenged traditional manufacturing models across multiple industries.

PR efforts were centered on building a prepared list of third party stakeholders and experts in academia, government, infrastructure, national security, automotive and other industries to help tell its story. A PR goal was to reinforce its leadership position as the first company to commercialize carbon nanotubes. Additionally it needed to be focused despite the fact that multiple industries could benefit with lighter, stronger, faster and more fuel efficient products.

We created a PR plan and key messaging platform that showed CNTs as very real with cost savings due to its strength and durability. We believed a broad sweep of highlighting sporting goods, high-performance auto racing repairs, and U.S. infrastructure (bridge and telephone poles) repairs, highlighted its diverse applications. Besides the launch of a product with the national consumer and business media, relationships with trade reporters were made at defense shows including Sea Air Space and the Association of Unmanned Vessel Systems International in D.C., helping foster discussions with partners. 

Enhanced relationships with customers, prospects and industry experts in academia, national security, and government contractors; 
Increased awareness that decreased time to close sales and develop partnerships; 
Secured brand positioning as an innovator with first-to-market technology; and 
Reinforced the company as a thought leader in multiple industries: defense, marine, automotive, infrastructure and sporting goods 

In nine months, the Ballast Group secured international coverage with stories appearing in Columbus Dispatch, Seattle Times and trade publications such as Jane’s International and Showboats International, Defense Technology International, Jane’s Navy International, Unmanned Vehicles, and Additionally we developed media relationships for Zyvex with editors and reporters at the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, the Associated Press.