Friday, October 17, 2014

The Importance of a Public Relations Program

Pick up the newspaper and read an article. Or, go to your favorite online news outlet and skim through an entry. No matter the source of your information, you’ll notice that virtually every story includes quotes from an industry expert. Have you ever wondered to yourself, “Why is this person or company being quoted?” or “What makes this person or company the authority to speak out on this issue?” More important, have you ever thought to yourself, “You know… I would like to gain some publicity and get quoted in the paper…”?

Here’s the difference between the companies who are featured in news articles and you: those companies have a public relations (PR) program.

In case you are unfamiliar with the concept, let’s go to everyone’s favorite online dictionary, Wikipedia, for a definition: “Public Relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public.”  A lot of things can go under the umbrella of PR, so we’ll be more specific for our manufacturing readers.

the importance of a public relations program
A PR program would include developing relationships with journalists and writers for news publications. By creating these connections, reporters will quote you in their articles and go to you as a resource when they’re looking for subject matter experts. That way, when your target audience members read stories, they’ll see your name. This can help you gain exposure and establish credibility!

Here are some steps to help you get started:

1)     Research Publications: What news outlets do your target audience members read? Is it the local newspaper? Is it an industry trade journal, or scholarly publication? Is it a blog? Create a list of the outlets you want to get published in.

2)     Create a List of Reporters: Publications have numerous reporters. Read through the publications for stories about manufacturing or related business news. These are the reporters that you want to target. A potential place to start is the Michigan Press Association.

3)     Send Your Pitch / Press Release: To be clear, PR isn’t advertising. No journalist is ever going to publish a story that says “this company is the best!’ If that’s your expectation, then change your expectation. When you contact reporters, you aren’t asking them to write an article about your company and what it does. You’re providing them with something newsworthy for them to include in their articles. You can do this through the form of a pitch letter and/or press release. Here are some suggestions:

a.     Industry Trends: Conduct an interesting study or survey about your target audience and share the results with reporters.
b.     Host a Tour: Arrange a tour for students and educators to learn about manufacturing. Invite your local journalists to participate. This was a very popular arrangement for National Manufacturing Day.
c.     Major Milestones: If your company achieved something newsworthy, discuss it with reporters, but put it in perspective for the local community. Example: don't just say that your company hit its 25th anniversary. Share that your company hit its 25th anniversary, and in that time it created 500 local jobs for the community.

If a reporter mentions you in a story, don’t forget to thank him/her! Remember, it’s about building relationships with reporters. By embracing a PR program, you can ultimately gain more exposure and develop new business by getting consistently quoted in the paper!

For more information on how you can develop new business, click here.


Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org

Friday, October 10, 2014

Manage or Mitigate: Why Risk can’t be Avoided

No one likes being vulnerable. It involves risk, and risks are scary. In business, innovation or trying new things is often seen as a risk. There are entire service industries that revolve entirely around the concept of managing or mitigating risk, have you talked to your insurance agent recently?

David Brown, in an article titled “Managing Risk and Innovation: the Challenge for Smaller Businesses,” discusses the concept of innovation for small businesses and the unique challenges faced by SMEs. At one point he states:

“Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are caught in a double bind. As competitive pressures mount and customers press for higher quality standards, tighter cost control and faster response times from suppliers, SMEs find it increasingly vital to accelerate process and product innovation. At the same time, the attendant risks of innovation are higher for a small firm than a large one: usually, the smaller firm will have fewer technical and managerial competences, more limited finance, and more limited access to information than a larger organisation. The risk of getting it wrong comes into sharp focus for those firms where one major unsuccessful product or process development may threaten the survival of the enterprise and possibly the entrepreneur's personal assets. The consequence is a characteristic and understandable risk aversion.”

Based on that, is it no wonder that R & D investments in product designs concepts and new product launches are such a scary concept for manufacturers? Many manufacturers choose to ‘play it safe’ and stick to what they know . . . but this raises another issue mentioned in the above article . . . something he calls the “tomorrow as well as today” problem. The need for companies to continue to demonstrate to end users, be it suppliers or consumers,  that they are not only capable of providing a competitively priced, quality product now, but committed to maintain market relevancy and offer product improvements in the future.

This is especially important as technology changes at an ever rapid pace. What’s a company to do? There are risks either way. If you move ahead too fast, you need to be able to fail quickly and fail cheaply or you’ll fail yourself right out of business. If you wait too long, you’ll be the one making products when consumers and customers have moved on to the next item on their technology menu.  VHS tapes anyone? 

There are ways, of course, to make technology work for you. The Digital Manufacturing Revolution held an invitation only kick-off meeting on October 1 & 2 with the opening of the GE Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center. The goal of this new initiative is to connect 21st Century digital manufacturing tools with American industry. This will leverage the power of big data, predictive simulations, and high-performance computing in a community-driven virtual world. Copies of some of the keynote presentations are available online.  

Sometimes the best thing to do is to hear how others have done it. We invite you to attend an upcoming Leadership Best Practice Series at no cost to you. On October 30th, from 7:30 am to 10:30 am, attend our New Product Launch panel and interact with company representatives from Morbark, Inc. and Roll-Rite, LLC that have been involved with successful product launches. 

From there you can explore MMTCs services on the Product Preparation Process (3P) or take a look through out Business Development offerings and design your own strategy for growth.

As a side note, just in case you think this is a new concept, the above article was written in 1997. While technology has changed, the issues facing SMEs are still the same. It’s not if you face risk, but what you choose to risk and how you manage it, that matters.

We look forward to seeing you later this month.  

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org

Friday, October 3, 2014

National Manufacturing Day: The Perfect Time to Reflect on Michigan’s Progress


manufacturing day 2014
It’s finally here! Break out the champagne and blow your kazoos in New Year’s Eve style… today is the third annual National Manufacturing Day!  National Manufacturing Day is our industry’s nationwide effort to accomplish two key objectives:

  1. Change our country’s perception of manufacturing careers by spreading awareness about the diverse careers and benefits that manufacturing has to offer.
  2. Convey the message that U.S. manufacturing is vital to our economy.

Our recent blog entries have  discussed the importance of the celebration, various events going on around Michigan and the country, and some highlights from our sponsors. This time around, we feel that today is the perfect time to reflect on the progress that Michigan manufacturing has made and look forward to a brighter future!

A recent article titled, “Manufacturing Rebound Puts Michigan Back in the Ball Game,” by Jack Spencer, shares data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and information from the Michigan Manufacturing Association to  cumulatively paint the picture of our comeback.

We don’t need to relive the economic downturn, but Michigan was hit during the crash of 2008 and manufacturing jobs fell below the 500,000-level. While of course unfortunate, we’re working hard (and succeeding) at creating a happy ending to the story. Take these facts into consideration:

  • We’re outperforming the entire U.S. in manufacturing job growth.
  • Since 2009, we’ve added more than 110,000 new manufacturing positions.
  • Between May 2012 and May 2014, our state was ranked first in the country for gross manufacturing jobs. Our net gain of 25,000 jobs exceeded second-place Texas, which gained a net of 22,000 jobs…and we’re a lot smaller!
  • Total manufacturing production has recovered and come back to our state’s level in 2007.
  • Michigan currently ranks #4 in manufacturing, with over $70 billion in annual output.
  • Michigan manufacturing accounts for 16.5% of our total gross state product, up from less 14% in 2009.
  • Manufacturing accounts for 94% of Michigan’s’ exports.
  • Since 2009, Michigan’s manufactured exports have grown 78%, compared to 47% for the U.S. as a whole.
  • The creation of the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute is projected to bring 10,000 jobs to Michigan over the next five years.

The success of our industry also creates a ripple effect for the rest of our state. This quote from Chuck Hadden, President and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturing Association, captures the impact: “Michigan employs more than 565,000 men and women directly in manufacturing. This does not even take into account the hundreds of thousands, millions even, of jobs that are available in communities because they have a manufacturer nearby. The incredible thing about manufacturing in Michigan is that it is an industry that shares its successes with every community and every person in the state.”

Today on National Manufacturing Day, let’s celebrate our progress and remember why we’re experiencing growth: the resilience and innovation of Michigan’s manufacturers.

On behalf of MMTC, Happy National Manufacturing Day everyone!


Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.