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Breakin’ the Law

January 17th, 2007

I’m no criminal, but I have a weakness for corporate messages that claim to break a rule, a law, an assumption – anything. It’s a risk for some companies (risk is going to be a big theme in this year’s blog posts), but more than often, it pays off.

I mention this because yesterday, HP announced that it has broken Moore’s Law. (Moore’s Law was created by an Intel exec and says that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 2 years.) HP has a new technology that allows an 8-fold increase in the number of transistors on a chip. The press release has a lot of technical language about how it works, but the real news comes from the broken law. (The chip isn’t going to be ready until 2010, but this announcement instantly put HP in the spotlight and gave them much-needed positive PR.)

We work with a lot of technology companies with “breakthrough” technologies that struggle to put their innovations into terms that can be covered by the media. The story I tell all of them to explain the value of non-technical words goes back a few years, but it’s still as relevant as the day we pitched it.

The company was Sensar, and they’d invented an iris identification technology. Their innovation as they told it to me was accurate 10 to the 24th power. Awesome, right? Well, it was awesome — but try to explain to a reporter how his readers will get why 10 to the 24th power is so awesome. So we worked with a local research institute to put the technology in context the everyday reader could understand.

A bit of research showed that DNA identification technology is accurate 10 to the 17th power. Sensar’s technology was more accurate than DNA. Now that’s a newshook. Ultimately, it was the basis of a successful media campaign that included a package on the Today Show. (There’s also a made-for-TV part of the story, but I’ll save that for another day.)

PR for technology can be tough, but there are huge pay-offs for companies that dare to speak to English. Tough luck, Moore.

Posted Under: Innovation & Technology, Public Relations
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