Capitalizing on Media Interest in U.S. Manufacturing
The national media’s interest in the U.S. manufacturing sector has rarely been higher. Despite declarations in recent years that U.S. manufacturing was a dying, stale industry, the sector is leading the U.S. economic recovery and has earned a renewed reputation for innovation and excellence, improved productivity and job growth. The weak dollar has made exports more affordable and encouraged manufacturers to return production stateside.
Headlines reflect the growing interest:
New York Times: Manufacturing Is Surprising Bright Spot in U.S. Economy
Time Inc. blog: A Surprising Jobs Recovery: American Manufacturing Is Back
Associated Press: Manufacturing and Construction Lift Outlook on U.S. Economy
The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Factories Could Suffer from Dollar’s Appeal
There could be opportunities for your company, especially if you can offer fodder on any of these themes of particular media interest:
- Economic impact/jobs. This represents everything from hiring trends within geographies and market sectors to plant expansions. Journalists are seeking insight into the economy, and job growth is prominent among the topics they are exploring. The presidential election is accelerating interest.
- Global competition. U.S. manufacturing was foundering in the past decade, according to many in the media, as companies shipped jobs overseas. The strategy reduced labor costs, increased margins and helped corporations enter new overseas markets, particularly in China. Today, with the weaker dollar and need for specialty, higher-skilled manufacturing, U.S. industrials are seeing increased demand for their high-quality products.
- Innovation. U.S. manufacturers have spent the past few years investing in new technology, making U.S. manufacturing labor among the most productive and profitable in the world. In recent years, U.S. manufacturers were criticized widely for their lack of innovation. This is no longer the case.
- Workforce retraining. One of the factors limiting job growth is that innovation and investment in efficiencies have outpaced workforce training. Manufacturers are increasingly finding ways to train existing and new workers, and they are turning to the federal, state and local resources such as community colleges for assistance.
- Sector growth. Manufacturing growth often is tied to current or future growth in a given sector – e.g., biomedical manufacturing growth is fueled by the growing need for biomedical devices globally. Insights into the manufacturing investment into specific sectors will provide insight into the expectations for growth in a variety of sectors.
- Labor issues. As manufacturing expands, media will look for clues regarding the relationship between union workers and management. Indications of union-management cooperation with corresponding results will be of interest, as will stories of how conflicts impair opportunity and economic growth.
- Expansion/acquisition. This could include investments in plants and other facilities as well as acquisitions. U.S. manufacturers are having to ramp up capacity after the recession. Media would like to learn more about the strategies being employed to meet increased demand across a variety of sectors.
You may be seeing a trend that doesn’t fit neatly into one of these themes. If you’re willing to talk about it, chances are good that the media will listen.