Best public affairs campaign
The UK is one of the few countries not to have a national strategy for a fourth industrial revolution, based on digitalisation and new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotics. Siemens, which describes itself as a ‘digital pioneer’, wanted to persuade the Government to support small manufacturers in their adoption of the latest technologies so that the UK can compete globally and improve productivity.
At its request, Siemens led a Government-commissioned review on industrial digitalisation, which brought together leading figures from industry and academia. The 246-page report Made Smarter, spearheaded by Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier, took a year to complete. It concluded that Britain’s manufacturing industry could unlock £455 billion over the next decade, boost the skills of one million workers, increase sector growth by up to three per cent per annum and create 175,000 new jobs.
In partnership with Government, Siemens said that a fourth industrial revolution could help create new, higher paid, better-skilled jobs that add value to society, strengthen UK supply chains, address regional economic disparities, increase exports, create a vibrant technology market and improve the efficiency of the UK’s industrial base.
Over the year, Siemens also brought together leading businesses to formulate a coherent set of policy objectives with the vision to identify and document the potential benefits derived from digitalisation and the steps needed to achieve this.
During the course of the review, Siemens’ public affairs team needed to ensure it retained an appropriate profile and was not crowded out by the Brexit debate. It also had to assuage concerns about automation and create a positive digitalisation narrative and, finally, it had to develop a coalition of businesses and trade associations who believed in the cause.
Informed by an understanding of the challenges business face, the campaign focused on three main challenges: leadership, adoption (more widespread adoption of technology across supply chains) and innovation – increasing the innovation, creating new technology and technology companies and developing new capabilities to increase the UK’s competitive advantage.
More than 200 organisations backed the proposals while every major trade association backed the review.
The team targeted MPs with significant numbers of small manufacturers within their constituencies, All Party Parliamentary Groups and other politicians to persuade them of the benefits of a fourth industrial revolution. It engaged with the media throughout, ensuring a regular flow of coverage, and also secured keynote speaking slots for its leadership at industry conferences, generating front page headlines.
On 27 September 2018, the Government launched a National Commission for Made Smarter, to drive digital technology adoption for small businesses. It also announced £20 million match funded support to establish a pilot in the North West of England targeting 300 small manufacturers struggling to get to grips with the latest technology.
The judges described the campaign as ‘solid and effective’, adding: ‘We liked the ‘thought leadership’ positioning of Siemens from this – leading technology investment in such a positive way.’