Growing a manufacturing company is hard work.
The competing priorities can seem endless—filling orders, training workers, marketing products, keeping up with competitors, adopting new technologies, improving operations, and more.
Fortunately, there’s a network of organizations across the nation that is ready and available to help manufacturers solve problems, become more competitive, and accelerate their growth.
The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is a public-private partnership with centers in every state nationwide. The New York MEP is a network of 10 regional centers and one statewide center, FuzeHub.
Every day, the NY MEP and its peer networks in other states help small- to mid-sized manufacturers access the resources, programs, experts, and assets they need to address challenges related to productivity, innovation, commercialization, efficiency, and other business issues.
And importantly, they’ve delivered results. In 2018 alone, the NY MEP helped create or retain 5,351 manufacturing jobs and generate $819.3 million in company cost savings, new investments, and increased or retained sales.
Since the summer of 2018, The Martin Group has worked alongside FuzeHub and the NY MEP to expand awareness of their work to help manufacturing and technology companies thrive.
With our clients at FuzeHub, we were recently invited to lead a webinar for the MEP National Network with the Oregon MEP and its PR partner, Coates Kokes.
With coast-to-coast collaboration, we shared our successes with the NY MEP and OMEP. We presented to MEP Centers across the country about how they, too, could deploy public relations programs to expand their networks, build their brands, and engage new partners and clients.
When manufacturers learn about their local MEP center, it can be the first step toward stronger growth and job creation. That means empowering MEP centers with PR skills could have a big impact on U.S. manufacturing.
You can watch a recording of the webinar at this link.
We provided an overview of PR basics and dove deep into tactics that can drive earned media success for MEP centers and other organizations that serve manufacturers.
Throughout hourlong webinar, we explained how to:
1.) Leverage client stories to drive local news
To help people understand the work that MEP Centers do, it’s often best to use real-life stories of how they helped a manufacturer solve a problem so they could grow. This is especially important with local media that want real stories about people who live in their coverage area.
2.) Increase attendance of events through earned media
The news media wants to provide value to their audience. If you’re an organization that helps companies succeed and your events are among the ways you help those companies, be sure you let the media know about your events. If the events can be beneficial to their audience, they will often be interested in including them in their coverage.
3.) Generate awareness through industry trade publications
Your clients are reading publications specific to their industry to gain insights into how to become more competitive and grow. If you can successfully land a story in one of these publications, you’ll reach people within your target audience.
4.) Advocate for manufacturers through op-eds and opinion writing
Writing opinion pieces can position you as an expert in the field. Help your community understand the issues the industry faces, and explain how certain solutions can generate a positive impact. In business-focused publications, your op-ed could explain how to solve trending challenges or capitalize on emerging opportunities.
5.) Create and distribute media kits to grab attention
Media kits put engaging, compelling materials in front of reporters and editors to facilitate introductions to your organization and experts. In our media kits, we typically include a fact sheet, spokesperson sheet, a narrative about the organization, pertinent news releases, localized data, and high-res imagery.
6.) Share the experiences of manufacturers to connect with readers
To reinforce the message, we emphasized that each MEP center’s best stories live within the clients it helps strengthen and grow. When timely and compelling, client successes can lead to valuable coverage. However, one significant challenge is that many manufacturers get nervous about speaking to the press because they fear they might share proprietary information. The solution is to get manufacturers comfortable; try conducting pre-interviews, which will help you gather pertinent info for your pitches or your own website content, plus, it will give them a practice run.
7.) Create a steady drumbeat by keeping the media updated on your work
Beyond the big successes with notable clients, MEP centers are doing important work every day to strengthen the manufacturing industry. Let the media know about it. Keep a pulse on activities happening throughout your organization and create a habit of regularly sharing updates—through news releases or media pitches—with key journalists. And, focus on building relationships with those key journalists.
8.) Become your own reporter
Unfortunately, newsrooms across the country continue to face a shortage of resources, especially outside of major markets. Capture video and photos. Gather learnings from events and from local manufacturers, and write them up into digestible content. Constantly consider opportunities to share your content and maximize its reach—through social media, blogs, email newsletters, and other tactics.
While the information we shared during the webinar was tailored to the needs of MEP Centers, these tips can help any service-oriented organization or company. Strategic public relations can be an effective tool to connect with your target audiences and encourage them to take action.