EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.
This week we look at visibility and credibility of manufacturers.
Question one: Do manufacturers effectively use PR to build the visibility and credibility of their business? How do businesses start to do this?
Response: This is a very interesting question. PR, done well, builds credibility, enhances the brand story and is a cornerstone for relationship building. PR does not only involve media release or events to generate publicity. It is part of your overall communications
Made in Britain: Can you define PR in a few words? I do wonder how many people don't actually fully understand what it is
Response: I would describe it as a strategic communication process that builds relationships between businesses and their audiences, including their teams, media, stakeholders, supply chain and customers.
Response: similar to what @JohnBinnsSpring said. Is also a case that someone needs to ensure that all external facing comms are "singing from the same hymn sheet" - is that a PR role?
Response: It is. All PR should be using the brand tone of voice and style. That is why it is part of the overall communications.
Response: Most definitely! PR deals with the entire public image of a brand - consistency within the brand is a key part of that image and should definitely be a priority when posting material online.
Response: There are many example of great editorials, opinion pieces and stories that have built great positioning for the business, and work with SEO, brand and advertising/promotion..
Response: The professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company / organisation Tools: Media Relations, Newsletters, Social Media, Brochures and Catalogues, Business events, Public speaking, sponsors / partnerships, Employee and Community Relations. Another way of defining Public relations, or PR, in a bit more detail 'is the practice of managing and guiding perceptions of your business to attract new customers and strengthen the loyalty of existing customers.'
Response: I think there have been a number of companies who have been effective in using PR to build credibility around their brand Businesses have an array of tools in PR including local newspapers/media, social media, building on employee relations who act as ambassadors etc
Response: We would agree - we are fortunate to have expertise in house and our press release are picked up by industry journals and specific media. We also support our clients product launches with our PR function if they co brand
Made in Britain: Do you think there is a common understanding of what PR actually is?
Response: There are definitely different avenues within PR which may skew people’s view of what it is - however, I would expect the collective understanding to be the use of press releases, blogs, etc. to establish brand image and reputation and gain exposure.
Response: A good question, which we can't answer on behalf of industry as I imagine that would be best answered in a study. Perhaps another question we could ask is 'are companies unconsciously maintaining (or trying to) a favourable public image' which is the goal of PR?
Response: It has become more common and effective, but it may take time for the best methods of marketing manufacturing through PR to be understood, given the nature of the products. A great way to start is building a brand voice and reputation using social media + blogs!
Response: Some smaller businesses may not have expertise in house, so have to engage and pay for external PR which can take time to appoint the right partner, wasting money on not getting the right partner straight away, and losing launch impact on and partner who doesn’t know their business. PR isn’t just about press releases either. Relying on just this for a product launch could be detrimental. There needs to be a cohesive planned approach using all available channels and partners
Made in Britain: Do you think the smaller businesses know what they want from PR or are they at the mercy of whatever agency they bring in?
Response: I think they rely on the 'expertise' of whoever they bring in
Made in Britain: How important is sector knowledge in the making of a good PR agency/freelancer?
Response: It is an important criteria in the choosing of a partner. They will have contacts within trade media that you want to tap into
Made in Britain: That is often what you buy? The contacts?
Response: It is a package - the skill in creating the pr opportunity, the content and visualisation of it - be it audio-visual or just copy - and the channel distribution. The contacts are all part of the industry expertise.
Made in Britain: Is PR a function of marketing or is marketing a function of PR?
Response: PR is a function of marketing
Response: PR is an output of Marketing like advertising and customer experience. Marketing is 90% research and planning. PR like advertising, exhibitions and Networking is the 10% that customers see. Is it part of the promotional action plan?
Response: Mostly we're visible on social media and are cultivating employee ambassadors!
Response: Give them training. They may know how to use Social Media but are they representing the company properly?
Response: Yes, true! We work together on all socials
Response: It’s often something thats forgotten about in a busy pace of business. It’s so important. We employed a PR to ensure we dedicated the right amount of time to this.
Response: This is a good route to take. An internal PR person who learns about the business, its products and brand identify.
Response: PR is part of the whole marketing plan, that should be inter connected to get the same message across
Response: That is a word that has come up a couple of times "Plan" - so important
Response: All publicity is good publicity... is it? The use of PR to promote a manufacturing business should be planned and expedited with Brand values taken into consideration. Big brands get big because they have a plan. Is this why smaller #Mfg's don't?
Response: Start by managing your company’s reputation and build a positive relationship with your internal & external stakeholders through storytelling and thought leadership.
Response: That assumes that a stakeholder analysis/mapping has been done first?
Response: True! But it is still important to start building relationships with your internal stakeholders as they will be more inclined to become ambassadors for your brand / company.
Response: We have tried using PR to highlight our coatings. At the start of the pandemic everyone was looking for ways of making things safer and we had a lot of interest in our MicroGuard™ Anti-Microbial coating and then later on our MicroGuard™ Anti-Fog coating with press features
Made in Britain: How did it go?
Response: To be fair it went OK, it helped that we were approached by a couple of industry magazines, one of whom was International, as the local press then had more of a story they could write.
Response: Social media is a good place to start and online blogs drive traffic to a website. I've observed that during #covid19 there are many manufacturers focusing on PR because of positive stories to tell re: call for PPE & reshoring just 2 examples
Response: We've had a number of press releases sent to @portsmouthnews like this one: https://portsmouth.co.uk/business/portsmouth-metal-parts-factory-excell-metal-spinning-sees-boost-orders-it-makes-ventilator-components-coronavirus-pandemic-2859766…and this story helped build positive sentiment amongst our local community, as we helped in the national efforts to fight back against Covid 19
Made in Britain: Does it take an agency/expert to do this? @Addmaster said its more than press releases
Response: I think, if you're skilled enough in this area of marketing, you can certainly achieve this in house. We agree @Addmaster, PR should be about utilising a number of available tools within the field to achieve your desired objective. Press releases should be used alongside others
Response: It does. If you have the skills internally that is great. You will also need to work with a good agency or service to distribute your news to the right channels.
Response: The temptation can sometimes be to value quantity over quality. Granted that some industries will have differing perceptions on quality, it's important to not write for the sake of writing.
Response: and avoid the "oh it's not them again" - it is quite easy to lose an audience that you've spent years building up
Response: Positive PR also helps build credibility in the marketplace
Response: As with any outbound communication practice, having an objective and understanding your target audience are key components of success. It's also wise to build relationships with editors and journalists as they will ultimately dictate what is published.
Response: Tell their stories without trying to sell or just copy/paste the company literature. Strong visuals help. Don’t pass it off to the intern - unfortunately, happens with a lot of marketing communications #MadeinBritainHour
Made in Britain: You can, @NigelTPacker has said similar things about getting the right people to do these sorts of tasks. It is important to know what you are doing and why, not just how to do it.
Response: I think manufacturers do use PR effectively! There are various media channels sharing press releases & articles from businesses! And for those that don't I think a good place to start is local magazines or newspapers to increase visibility within your community
Response: That's a great point. It also gives content to use on social media more widely. Look we've been featured in XYZ magazine, paper etc. The importance of this shouldn't be overlooked
Response: Absolutely, I think the backing from a credible magazine or newspaper is hugely important, and like you said it offers up social media openers to create a buzz of excitement for your company!
Response: “If I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR” Bill Gates
Response: It's an important 'tool' to have in your arsenal, very much a black art, the advertising part of it has changed from what it was but PR is how you treat your customers etc too, repeat custom is important.
Question two: How can manufacturers build visibility and credibility in other ways than direct selling and social media?
Response: Maintaining a relationship with existing customers is probably and potentially should be at the top of your list?
Response: Providing materials inc. educational blogs and videos are a great way to establish credibility and expertise within the industry. We have lots of these on our website to help educate people on all things springs!
Response: Agree - creating value with useful info and articles on your industry. Working with industry partners and becoming a 'go to' for solutions and support
Response: They can develop white papers, case studies and host knowledge-sharing activities to demonstrate their expertise and the quality of the solutions.
Response: Quite a lot of industry outlets out there! They can help build visibility outside of socials and direct selling.
Response: We work with a lot of our clients developing content that builds that visibility and credibility. We have even created a journal with academic papers and product evidence that was distributed among the medical sector for a client in the health industry.
Response: Case studies and testimonials from clients are always great when building visibility and credibility! I also think articles are a great way to express your industry knowledge, and these can even be featured in credible magazines to increase your visibility
Made in Britain: We like these. We see what the 1600+ member companies of Made in Britain do, we've learned all sorts about pumps, metal spinning, lighting, ground pumps, security - all from articles
Response: I think a lot of companies get lost in 'sell sell sell' mindset about products but industry knowledge is key to get your potential customers understanding why you're the right person the job!
Response: and on social media its less likely to see shares of "sell sell sell" compared with useful information sharing.
Response: By joining Made in Britain! Platforms such as these, or industry-specific platforms can really help with establishing useful connections without employing overt sales tactics.
Response: Partnering up with contacts is key. For example, many of our clients need help with services like #intellectualproperty e.g. We are not experts but we work with a network of solicitors who are and will send clients our way and vice versa.
Response: That sounds interesting! Referrals and lending a helping hand where needed between customers. That good use of word of mouth
Response: Absolutely right and it means we can go the extra mile for our clients and provide support at any stage of their projects. If we don't have the answer then we usually know someone who does! And we like to think that's a USP for our design service
Response: That is a really useful added value for customers when you can offer them names of people/companies who can help them. It often results in a two way flow of work
Response: Depending on the industry, lots of PR and marketing goes hand in hand and we have had site vists, open days for visibility of what we produce
Made in Britain: Open days, site visits and factory visits are a really great way to do this. Are you looking forward to being able to do that again?
Response: We certainly are at Manthorpe. We had just completed a new Customer Experience Centre at our head office in Ripley and we can't wait to welcome people and show them around!
Response: Utilise case studies, contribute to features/articles in trade magazines, white papers, have good website content that focusses on the problem you can solve for your customer better than anyone else, trade shows (when we can!) these can all help build credibility.
Response: Good PR is getting others to talk about your business. Creating those discussions through conversation builds confidence in the viewer, fear in competitors and engagement from those who come across you touch points. The success of #MadeinBritainHour demonstrates this.
Response: Take everything from ordinary to ‘Wow’. I can’t recall where I saw this but I recall it all the time. Every communication, the way you answer the phone, write an email, present your product
Response: So very true. That is why it is part of the overall mix.
Response: Connecting with their local community, charity work, private events, press events, white papers, connecting with schools, colleges and universities, hosting complimentary makers (when allowed) loads and loads of ways ... just takes time and creativity
Response: Authenticity is important – do one thing well, move above and beyond just existing for sales and profit
Question three: Could more manufacturers benefit from collaborative marketing to increase visibility and reputation/credibility?
Response: Our news section https://addmaster.co.uk/news highlights the collaboration between us and our clients helping promote their products
Made in Britain: It was @Addmaster that actually motivated this question as we've been following the way you do it and it is a great learning opportunity for others
Response: Thank you for noticing our efforts to promote our clients I’m sure @AddmasterCEO will be thrilled to hear this
Response: Certainly, we work with our customers on their projects and have even provided videos of their products during the metal spinning process that they can use and share We also worked on joint case studies promoting both our brand and theirs in a positive light
Response: Yes, previously we have printed flyers for example with plumber details one side and electricians on the other. A lot of businesses can help each other this way!
Response: Many don’t see this an important part of their sales process but visibility and positioning is everything when it comes to building a brand.
Response: It is so important! And yet as you said, many see this as 'fluff' or not for them.
Response: Great amplification through collaborative marketing! And it acts as an association or even an endorsement. A great strategy to follow.
Response: Supporting young enterprise schemes, sponsoring events, supporting local and global charities all help with promotion and positioning of the business.
Made in Britain: These are great suggestions. I think we have a member of Made in Britain - @WhamWorld who sponsor Accrington Stanley Football Team
Response: “Accrington Stanley? Who are they?”
Response: A big name in the area of the @WhamWorld factory. There is some history of giant-killing by the club at some point
Response: Many news outlasts prefer to publish articles and press releases from a group of companies working together. It reduces the self-promotion angle and always makes a better read. Collaboration between customers and suppliers can benefit all.
Made in Britain: That's a really useful piece of advice @NigelTPacker - it is something we're seeing more of that Made in Britain members are working together and shouting about it. Let's hope it gets the coverage it deserves
Response: Absolutely. As a manufacturer ourselves, we often see other manufacturers neglect to collaborate with others from fear of having their customers/ideas stolen. However, when properly executed, the outcomes of joint ventures can be extremely helpful in building brand visibility.
Response: Yes, most definitely! I think one major benefit of collaborative marketing it opens you up to a wider audience. People who didn't necessarily think they needed you are considering your product because you're associated with the brands they trust and vice versa!
Response: Like @ExcellMetalSpin we provide our customers with imagery, videos and information for their websites and we also collaborate on case studies and award entries!
Response: It's something we picked up over the past few months. It's really refreshing, and highly rewarding as both an individual and a company, when you can build a stronger relationship with your customers
Response: Again Building on relationships will reduce any likelihood of the customer going to a competitor. If they have a new project or an issue, then they will speak to you first.
Made in Britain: Do Awards make a difference?
Response: I do think they help, especially in terms of providing confidence in your brand We've entered our local business awards, and hopefully we make it to the finals
Response: They are useful to publicly validate and celebrate the efforts made by the company
Response: They provide a nice bit of content and also, depending on what they are, the PR attached to them helps to put a business in to the spotlight.
Response: We've entered a specific industry award over the last few years where our products have been judged by representative bodies, housing developers and industry peers. It's helped raise our profile within the industry and gained us invaluable contacts and helped develop relationships.
Response: One example from our business would be our Accredited Contractor Scheme! We collaborate with selected fencing contractor within this scheme, with both sides offering each other services! It's a great way to build credibility and relationships with these businesses
Response: We do this through supporting UK manufacturing, but apart from that - we haven't done any marketing collaborations. Will be useful seeing how others' approach this!
Response: Different sector but have a look at what @Addmaster have done
Response: Will do! For showing us the way! Always good to see best practice and get inspired.
Response: We work collaboratively with our suppliers. Clients are trickier because some want our involvement confidential and we respect their wishes. However, that means some of our favourite projects we can't shout about which is especially hard for me as a marketeer
Response: We would love to be more collaborative with our marketing but unfortunately for us we are often under NDA or our customers don't want their customers knowing that we are part of their supply chain, it's annoying
Response: #collaboration is 'of the moment' but it works at its best when it benefits 'people' outside of the collaborative group as well. This is so (in my view) especially with Marketing Collaborations. Sure promote the group, but give benefit to a wider one
Question four: In general do green/sustainability accreditations have a direct effect on sales and financial returns or just the social/environmental components of the triple bottom line?
Response: We're actually exploring this with an R&D project that we can't go into too much detail. But in terms of sustainability, it will significantly reduce our steel usage and we're exploring the impact on the environment and overall costs It will also open up additional services too
Response: They used to be the 'cherry on the cake', but now more clients are making discerning choices about eco friendly / sustainability as part of their CSR policy. These accreditations now form an integral part of marketing collateral, especially for PR
Made in Britain: Do you think they have changed from being motivating/differentiating factors to becoming hygiene/must have them factors?
Response: Yes definitely - especially for many larger companies who have to promote and publish their CSR policies and answer questions about the choices they make and their responsibility to shareholders / public
Response: Yes, bigger companies are having to show what they are doing regarding the environment and green sustainability
Response: I agree. they should be considered as industry standard.
Response: If there is legislation requiring them then, yes for sure. It may not be the same for all sectors, although it does with audiences that demand sustainability. Many b2c brands found themselves caught out as their customers demanded environmentally-friendly production.
Response: Selling into #automotive it has become table stakes so without it there would be a detrimental impact on sales. Not sure it opens doors but we’re comfortable that it’s the right thing to do and then why not use it in your messaging
Response: Depending on whether one is jumping on a bandwagon to tick a box or having a genuine green benefit. The internet will expose the former over time. As customer awareness increases companies should look at what they can do to reduce waste and pollution.
Response: In our experience we find most buyers only pay ‘lip service’ to green and sustainable credentials in construction. It sounds cold but ultimately it comes down to price and they aren’t that concerned if it’s virgin or recycled content. Architect are but they aren’t paying the bill
Made in Britain: That is interesting to hear. From what we know some other countries seem to be ahead of the UK in embracing this.
Response: Yes they are. Most of ours locally is just ‘green wash’
Response: "Green washing" has become a new industry.
Response: I hate when they do that. So much of it, even with equality, diversity and inclusion.
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