St John White believes PR can play a big role in the UK’s industrial success overseas…
It’s not a new idea – that we need to use our brains and ingenuity to remain globally competitive – but it’s a message that rarely seems to be heeded in UK manufacturing.
While UK plc has certainly made huge strides when it comes to understanding that we need to invest in added-value engineering to beat the competition, we don’t seem to have really understood that this position needs to be clearly communicated. In short, we have carved out a USP (as us marketeers call it), but are failing to always promote that advantage.
Look back thirty years – to a time when volume manufacturing was on its knees and the only growth area of the economy was strikes – and you’ll see little cause for celebration. And while the relative contraction of UK manufacturing is an issue, this fact is often taken out of context. Too often the naysayers are keen to denigrate UK manufacturing without knowing the facts.
In reality, industry is in pretty good shape. We now employ 2.6 million people (around 9% of working population) making things. Look at the success of Land Rover, Aston Martin, Triumph Motorcycles and Dyson; all strong UK brands that have invested heavily in new product design and high value engineering. The OECD figures show that UK manufacturing outputs has consistently increased since the fifties and 83 per cent of our exports come from manufacturing. Clearly, successful technology is smart technology.
Looking ahead, we need to continue to foster inventive talent and develop technologies that cannot be easily copied by lower cost economies. But we also need to beat the completion in the PR stakes. Without strong communications campaigns, the best technology will remain Britain’s best kept secret. At Prova, we’re passionate about flying the flag for British invention and spreading the word to new markets, wherever they may be.