BOSTON—Technology public relations specialist Brodeur Worldwide is creating a new consulting practice dedicated to helping clients navigate communications issues surrounding the emerging field of nanotechnology.

“The next big thing in technology could be small, actually tiny,” said John Brodeur, chairman. “Nanotechnology is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the next decade and is largely unserved by the public relations industry.”

Analysts predict that by the end of the decade, nanotechnology will be on track to become a $1 trillion commercial market, but Brodeur says that forecast will not become a reality if innovation is stifled by a lack of understanding and cooperation among the players. The firm’s new practice will work with clients and the industry to advance the dialogue among and between the various constituents that have an interest in this nascent industry—from advocacy groups to government agencies to venture firms and private enterprise.

Nanotechnology, the process of creating new products and substances using atomic level manufacturing, has been called everything from “the industrial revolution for the 21st century” to “the onset of Armageddon.”  Press coverage of nanotechnology-related subjects has steadily increased over the last several years, and last year saw a marked spike in coverage. The issue has come to the forefront of popular culture thanks to the Michael Crichton bestseller Prey, soon to be a major movie, which warns of the potential dangers of nanotech.

“The applications of nanotechnology along with its potential economic impact globally are far reaching, and with an increased spotlight comes the increased scrutiny of a technology that is little understood, creating enormous challenges from a public relations standpoint,” said Michael Brewer, executive vice president and head of the new practice. “We decided to launch our nanotechnology practice because we see so many of the same parallels with other new technologies that have emerged in the past.  Our roots in technology make this a natural extension for our business.

“There are many messages and a lot of hype out there about what nanotechnology is and what it is not,” said Brewer.  “Whenever there is tension in a market like this, there is a strong need for communications that bring a balance to the dialogue.  We have a number of clients that have been involved in research for many years, and some that are just beginning to explore the opportunities these technologies can bring to their businesses.”