If you have something newsworthy, a small investment in communications can work wonders, as Tyson Bowens explains in this instalment of Marketing for manufacturers.
As a communications professional with a background in engineering, it is easy to understand how manufacturers can overlook marketing and communications. Public Relations (PR), and its related disciplines of media relations, corporate communications, and government relations, can be viewed as something of a lost lead, something the business does not have time for, or something that just isn’t understood.
In fact, I once consulted to a large manufacturer who took the view that they make the product, I promote it – a view that I understand, but one that I do not agree with. Manufacturing is more than production, and involves many steps either side of the physical act of manufacturing a product. To overlook, or dismiss, the benefits of good PR and communications activities is akin to foregoing the opportunity to promote the full value add in pre- and post-production.
AMGC is often asked about the value of PR and our response is always the same. If you are willing to invest a small amount of time, budget and resources to PR activities, the returns to the business can be significant. Often manufacturers are sitting on a treasure trove of media gold and don’t know it. To realise the value in this information, manufacturers need to seek advice from someone who understands news value and tease it out.
Over the past 12 months, two significant examples demonstrating the power of PR come to mind. The first being a Western Australian manufacturer developing leading-edge, high-output electric motors which have the potential to revolutionise transportation. HyperPower worked with AMGC to conduct a media tour of its facility and to discuss its technology and aspirations.
The resulting coverage spawned in their words a “near-on viral coverage….from outlets around the world. This brought in many enquiries for our tech and products.” – fantastic. Since this time, these leads have turned into customers, generating additional revenues and opportunity for HyperPower. The cost? Help from a PR professional, a few cups of tea, some time, a few photos, and a willingness to tell their story.
The second PR event involved a little bit more planning, investment and time, but generated unquestionable value to the company. DOFTEK is an Australian company reinventing the way your vehicle’s wheels engage with the road. As a startup, DOFTEK needed to build its profile and get noticed by the international automotive manufacturing industry. AMGC worked with DOFTEK to design a virtual press conference (owing to COVID) to introduce its technology to local and international motoring media. The result: significant coverage which opened doors to auto manufacturers from across the globe.
In both instances, these companies worked with a communications professional to assist with developing a program that worked within the boundaries of their budget, resources and importantly IP constraints. What a communications professional can bring to an activity is a fresh set of eyes, an understanding of the media environment and more importantly a critical eye for what is news.
That last point is key. Once a manufacturer understands what newsworthy information it has, a PR campaign can then be designed to suit. For most, a media release supported by good quality imagery (shot by a professional, not an employee and an iPhone) and a targeted media list are a good start. Any good PR Professional can assist but do look at their expertise to ensure you are engaging with the right type of professional that matches your business capability and customer target.
To get you thinking about how PR may be able to boost your business profile, generate customer enquiries or to tell your story, I have developed the following PR guide to assist you in the first steps. Just remember, you only get one opportunity to make a first impression and any investment in PR activity is a sound one when done right.
AMGC’s PR GUIDE
Engage a professional
- PR and communications are an art. There are many companies offering communications services and they’d be more than happy to discuss how they can help
- Look at their client list and ask for examples of work they’ve completed previously Manufacturing is a specialised industry and needs specialist PR services
- Ask them to pitch to you on how they would promote your business
Know your audience, tailor your message
- Have a targeted media list or offer an exclusive to a media outlet. Do not send widely (untargeted?) in the hope of generating ‘some’ coverage
- Be clear on the who, what, when, where, why and how behind your story. Look at AMGC’s newsroom for examples
- Try and frame your activity around news values. Here is a little information on the topic
- Milestones, new products or a breakthrough can provide a ready-made news hook
- Know the target audience (your customer), what interests them and why they should care about your story
Know how to communicate it
- Avoid jargon where possible. Try to make your story accessible and easy to understand
- Colourful comparisons bring a story to life. For example: “It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of cling wrap.”
- Be concise. Try to answer questions in 30 seconds. The more you say the more you stray
- Stick to the facts. Don’t overwhelm the audience but be able to quantify everything you say
- Have a fact sheet available for the journalist to reinforce the conversation .
Have resources at the ready
- Send media invites out weeks ahead. Journalists are busy and appreciate plenty of notice
- Make sure your website is up-to-date and accurate. Media will check it, as will readers
- Have a selection of high-resolution, quality images/video to support your media opportunity
- Have a nominated spokesperson ready and accessible, and invest in media training for them
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