IHS FAIRPLAY

Danish Maritime Days 2016

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Fairplay.IHS.com | October 2016 | 25 Rabbit in the headlights ↘ If you were approached by a TV crew and asked to explain in a live broadcast why the dredging project you were engaged on was important, what's the first thing you would do? Exactly. You'd freeze, you'd forget everything you ever knew about dredging, you'd resemble the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. In fact, the first thing you should do is advise the crew to talk to the guy over there who has vast experience of media work. Dredging projects work best when engineers bring their diverse skills to a single task. It's the same with the media. Some of us have had training in how to explain difficult concepts to a generalist audience. It's never easy, and we all get nervous if we are being recorded or quoted. My own experience in media training revealed that some folk should be kept far away from interviewers, while others are enthusiastic but need to be grounded in reality Engineering as a discipline is struggling to recruit the next generation because its leaders have made engineers responsible for recruitment. It's hard to understand why they do this when they wouldn't make recruiters responsible for engineering projects. One of our journalists heard a chief exec say his profession had lost millions of dollars as a result of miscommunication, although she understood that engineering businesses are "bound by time and budget restrictions". A survey carried out by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and others found that 4 of every 10 engineers required to deliver presentations as part of their job had received no training in how to communicate with customers, colleagues and, on occasions, the public. No wonder millions have been lost. Communication should be a formal part of every engineer's tool kit. Not only will it bring more business to your employer, it will also reduce the risk of accidents and incidents – and thereby cut unnecessary expense – and raise the profile of engineering as a profession. Talking to the media should be left to those who have been trained in how that profession works, coached in the key elements of the project under discussion, and made aware of the needs of the audience. Every journalist and interviewer should give guidance on what their listeners, viewers, and readers want to know; your presentation should speak to that audience rather than to fellow engineers. Like every profession, dredging can be fascinating or dreary depending on how you put it across. Similarly, you'll get additional funding or no funding at all depending on the effectiveness of your presentation. We also need to learn how to network, how to talk about what we do. It's a must-have skill for engineers of every discipline. readersareunwillingtopayforitemsthatare(a) unverified,(b)incomplete,and(c)badlywritten. However,it'simportanttoknowthatthemedia doesmorethanreportnews.Journalistsare,toquote FinancialTimescontributingeditorJohnLloyd, engagedinthedailyeffortto"conveycomplexity, nuance,doubt,andcontestedfactsinwaysthat informbutdonotpreach,assertbutleavespacefor revision".Coverageofanewengineorcoating,oran acquisitionofabusinessorapartnershipagreement, mustthereforecomewithcontextandconsequence: whatliesbehindthisnewsandhowmightitchange thecurrentposition? Thatshiftstheonusonjournaliststoupgrade informationtoknowledge.Itmeansresistingthe temptationtobefirstwiththesnippetofnews.It meansaddinganalysisandinsightthatisn'tavailable anywhereelse.Withoutdoubtthisliftsthemediatoa higherlevel,butisitenoughtomakecompaniespay forit?Ithinknot.We'remissingsomethinghere, somethingthatpeoplewillpayfor. SundayTimesinvestigativejournalistJonathan Calvertbelievesjournalismismuchmorethan trawlingthroughdatabasesandsearchingthenetin thehopeoffindingastory.It'saboutpeople. "Ninety-ninepercentofjournalismisahuman resourcething,"Calvertwrites."It'saboutcontacts, findingtherightpeoplewhomightknowthings, hopingpeoplemightgiveyouthings.It'snotimpos- sible[tofindastoryontheinternet]butyouarerarely goingtogetsomethingthat'sreallygreatfromthat. Thebeststuffcomesfromyourfellowhumanbeings." Theshippingbusinessisdrivenbypeople,sothe shippingmediamustreflectthatemphasis.Data, information,andknowledgecanonlybeasusefulas thepeoplewhogatherit,analyseit,andaddvalueto it.Morethanthat,whilethereisobviousvaluein traininganalyststobebetteranalysts,media businessesshouldeducatetheindustryinwhat analyticsandinsightareavailable. Andthat'susuallybestdoneawayfromnewspapers anddigitalmedia,throughbriefingsandseminarsthat showcasewhatamediabusinesswithabroadportfolio candoandhowitcanhelpshippingbusinessestotake betterdecisions.Weshouldn'tassumethatmanagers andoperatorsknowwhattheyneed;theybelievewhat theyhaveboughtisasgoodasitgets,howeverthat's notalwaysthecase.Thosebriefingsandseminars shouldbebuiltaroundnetworkingbecause,whatever elsehaschanged,peoplestilltalktopeople. Howevermuchtheplatformsevolve–from hard-copynewspapersandmagazinesthroughto tablets,smartphones,andwhatevercomesnext–the keytogoodmedialiesinjournalistslistening,asking incisivequestions,buildinganetworkofcontacts,and beingpersistent.Andthat'sworthpayingfor. Shutterstock 'Whatever else has changed, people still talk to people' FAIRPLAY Industry insight

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