Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), now ADS Group
As Head of Communications for this national trade association, my remit was to raise the profile of the UK Aerospace Industry, in terms of its value to the nation in the first instance, followed in importance by the Society itself and what it does to represent the industry.
One of the ways I achieved the aims of the Society was to run campaigns highlighting industry issues which included member company involvement.
Commercial Aviation Research & Development (CARAD)
Issue: The UK Government had made noises that it would greatly reduce, or withdraw, the £20 million annual investment it made through the CARAD budget. This would have a detrimental effect on the industry in terms of reducing future capabilities with a knock-on effect of job losses and loss of intellectual property from the UK when work would be moved overseas as a consequence.
Solution: The SBAC developed a campaign encompassing public affairs, media relations and member engagement to lobby politicians and civil servants. The campaign demonstrated the value and importance to the UK of the work that resulted from this annual CARAD investment. My team was pivotal in the delivery of the campaign, from strategy to message development, and tactics to project management of member communication to rally the troops on the ground around the country, provide the necessary information and tools to communicate with.
Result: Success! The Government announced that it would retain the CARAD budget.
Aerospace Supporting the Community (AeStheC)
Issue: The Industry wanted and needed the UK Government to commit to new funding to put the UK on a level playing field with other aerospace nations, at least maintain the country’s aerospace capability, and safeguard jobs in the UK.
Solution: After a brainstorm at board level, of which I was a part, the Aerospace Supporting the Community initiative was born. The idea was to demonstrate the significant contribution made by the UK Aerospace Industry to the nation’s economy and technological capabilities, in terms of UK jobs, spin-off technologies and their everyday applications, revenue to the economy, etc. This campaign had a major media focus, with public affairs secondary. Participation packs were created for each member company so that a pincer-type approach was made, feeding into the media and politicians from all angles, i.e. each company would contact their local media and politicians.
The packs contained core messages – industry specific – alongside data for each company that was compiled by my team. Draft news releases, web copy and other collateral such as T-shirts, car bumper stickers, pens and keyrings, were included as well as speed-dating type events to connect member companies, politicians and the media at the House of Commons and a Roadshow around the UK. A highlight of the 12-month campaign was opening the magazine of a Sunday national paper to see a photograph of Tony Blair (the then Prime Minister) playing tennis with the Aerospace Supporting the Community logo clearly emblazoned on his T-shirt!
Result: A renewed commitment by the UK Government to continue funding.