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I was recently speaking to a ‘specialist’ regarding some work required on my old Range Rover. Land Rover owners will be familiar with this feeling. I was told that the work required would be “hugely expensive” as “we have to lift the body off”. Alarm bells were ringing. Not because of the potential bill, but because the L322 doesn’t have a separate chassis from which to remove the body, as you would a Range Rover Sport, or Discovery 3 or 4.

I thought they may have been mistaken as to which model I had and pointed out the error. This was a mistake. Hell hath no fury like a Land Rover specialist scorned. In the end I had the work carried out elsewhere by a specialist more deserving of the name, for a quarter of the price. But I bet a lot of people would have taken a sharp intake of breath, dusted off the savings and bitten the bullet. Ignorance is bliss, but potentially costly.

This experience wasn’t financially painful for me, but it confirmed the importance of knowing enough to ask the right questions. This may have been an area of Land Rover geekery, but it’s just as applicable professionally and clearly demonstrates the value that Market Engineering, as an automotive technology specialist, tries to bring to its customers.

Effective communications rely on being trustworthy. Jeopardise the truth and you lose all credibility with clients, experts and key media. Especially in the technology sector, where a razor sharp editor’s eye is keenly focused to root out the next bold claim that lacks substance, or where an engineer is ready to pour scorn on fanciful “PR fluff”.

Not everybody can be an expert on everything, especially in a rapidly evolving automotive technology sector. Part of that expertise, however, is being able to ask the right questions. Using a passion and knowledge of a subject to recognise the importance of a technology, material or manufacturing technique, and being able to extract the relevant details that benefit communications, media and, ultimately, the client.

The communications professional without a solid understanding of the subject is merely a conduit for easily-accessible, simplistic information. A glorified mailshot. The expert adds value through intrigue, analysis and careful dissection of often intrinsically scientific minds. This is where the great stories are born, reputations are built and expertise proven.

It’s also where we learn, so that we don’t get caught out.