13 March 2012
What the papers don’t say
Back to front thinking is behind our B list media profile says WM editor, Max Gosney
RBS mega bonuses, the death of a foreign correspondent and a Labour MP enlightening a Tory colleague on the true meaning of a Glasgow kiss. These events had top billing on the national news on 23 February – it was as if that day's government-led national manufacturing summit had never happened.
The omission was symptomatic not only of our sector's B-list media profile, but also some wretched PR. For the government ran this summit with all the openness of MI6. While the media was invited to a press conference at the event, we were banned from attending breakout discussions on finance, apprenticeships and even, ironically, a session on promoting manufacturing.
It's akin to David Cameron kicking out the Fleet Street hacks just when the Tory party conference enters full swing. Publicity is the oxygen of manufacturing's renaissance and one of the fundamental areas we need to sort out. Ring-fencing parts of the summit asphyxiates the event's appeal.
The government claims the decision was made in line with the wishes of companies attending, mostly large corporates, who were concerned about commercial sensitivities. However, this event was about embracing broad industry challenges like skills shortages and access to finance, rather than examining individual business sales figures.
Transforming manufacturing's public image means treating the media as friend, not foe – particularly a magazine like WM that strives to promote best practice across UK manufacturing.
Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, PR problems were among the chief concerns readers put to manufacturing minister Mark Prisk at the WM Leaders Forum last month (see page 14). Prisk gave an eloquent performance, emphasising the importance of manufacturing within Westminster – but his champagne words must not be diluted by lemonade actions. A Make it in Great Britain campaign to tie in with the Olympics is a cracking idea, yet unless we promote it at the showpiece events, it's likely to achieve the same mainstream coverage as the summit last month.
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