Approach manufacturing

Think manufacturers don’t need PR? Think again!

The state of the manufacturing industry is often cited as an indicator of the economic health of the nation with increased orders and productivity reflecting the optimism of the country as a whole.

The importance of this sector cannot be overestimated and with six per cent of business in Yorkshire rooted in manufacturing, these companies play an imperative role in the success of the county and its residents. But despite being the backbone of Yorkshire’s economy, manufacturers often undervalue how significant a role they play, how interested people are in how they are doing and the value that communicating with their key audiences can have on their business.

The truth is that every manufacturer could benefit from a targeted B2B public relations campaign regardless of size or how niche the product is.

Many manufacturers feel they simply don’t need PR: there isn’t a big enough audience, customers are overseas, niche or national, or they’re unsure of how to reach potential new customers. So many are missing out on golden opportunities to increase their profile, push products, nurture invaluable relationships with their communities and build solid reputations in their sector.

We’ve been working in manufacturing for 16 years with campaigns reaping fantastic tangible benefits for clients, spanning industries from chemicals to cooling systems, importers and exporters, national and international traders.

Loving local

The value of regional public and community relations should never be under estimated or disregarded as a ‘nice-to-have’ which doesn’t really affect the bottom line. Local and regional news outlets are not only essential to forging positive links with the community but can be the springboard for greater, more far-reaching attention.

For one Bradford manufacturer, Advanced Actuators, we devised a strategic 12-month media campaign specifically targeting regional media. It provided a regular stream of good news stories covering plans for expansion, new contracts, staff appointments and export. The constant re-enforcing of positive messages set the company up as an example of a manufacturing success story, emerging from the recession with an optimistic outlook for the region’s future. No doubt there were other such local manufacturers with equally buoyant stories to tell – the difference is, this company was telling those stories.

The resulting consistent media coverage of Advanced Actuators, which supplies actuators, control solutions and hydraulic components from its Silsden base, caught the attention of the local MP who identified the company as a shining example of manufacturing success and an inspiration to other businesses in the region. He then recommended Chancellor, George Osborne, visit the site in recognition of its triumph and resilience. The resulting VIP visit generated dozens of pieces of coverage for Advanced Actuators including national, broadcast and trade media.  More than five million viewers watched the coverage on Calendar News, and 45,000 peers and potential customers read about the event in the industry press. New business enquiries increased to such a degree, including interest from overseas clients, it immediately began work on a global marketing campaign.

So when we hear from business owners and managers that they don’t think regional media will effectively reach their customer base or help shift products, we regale the tale of Advanced Actuators and the increased international orders that began with a new contract story in the Keighley News.

Niche work if you can get it

But it’s not just regional media that can work miracles for manufacturers. There’s a myriad of specialist and trade publications servicing every conceivable area of business from Coatings Comet and Cow Management to Paper Technology and Waste Water World. While there may not be dozens of relevant titles for your manufacturing business, the benefit of finding the right media is that you know they are absolutely your key audience. So whatever your business, there’s trade media just waiting to talk about your latest products and services.

When Approach PR was briefed by Airedale Chemical to raise the profile of one of its most important products, peracetic acid, it threw down the gauntlet to create news-worthy and interesting stories around the biocidal chemical. As well as the speciality chemical industry magazines, we researched titles in the company’s vertical trade press and extolled the virtues of the product’s applications relevant to each sector. Over 12 months we generated 100 mentions of peracetic acid in relation to Airedale Chemical – proof that no matter what your product there’s a media out there waiting to write about it and people, potentially your customers, ready to read about it.

Feeling social

In manufacturing, technology and innovation are imperative to keeping ahead of the game and the same principles apply in communications. Social media is as relevant and effective in the manufacturing sector as it is to retailers and service industries. Get the tone of voice and content right and you’ll find a new platform to engage with your audiences.

Patchett Joinery, a family-run business manufacturing timber windows and doors since 1840, recently embraced the digital world with a dedicated social media campaign across all platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn now complement its more traditional sales tools such as brochures, e-newsletters and of course, a strong sales team.

The key to good social media is engaging content and the right tone of voice. Keep it professional, knowledgeable and interesting by commenting on what’s going on in your industry and having a share of voice in industry discussions. It shows you’re aware of what’s going on and allows you to react instantly to industry news and announcements or better still, lead the conversation and demonstrate your expertise.

Ultimately, the aim is to generate greater brand awareness, reach a wider audience, engage with potential new customers and drive traffic to your website.

Latest figures from Patchett Joinery show our targeted social media strategy saw a 368% increase in LinkedIn followers in just nine months, 262% more on Instagram and its Twitter followers up by a quarter, leading to new business interest being passed on to the company.

Yorkshire manufacturing has proven itself to be a robust and resilient industry with many inspiring success stories. The only difference between you and the ones you hear about online and in the industry and regional media, is good PR.