‹ Back to Columns

Winning the Reputation Challenge

Rich Jefferson

Reputation management is a broad umbrella. One could argue that all communications disciplines and all business practices have an influence on an industry’s reputation. Unlike the advice we receive for answering during exams, the best ideas for reputation management are often not the first ones that spring to mind.

With that thought, I want to tell you about a new online campaign for the metalcasting industry.  

This campaign will prosper or languish with your participation, or lack of participation. It’s like Manufacturing Day in that you will have the opportunity to help tell the world about your important business by inviting students and other locals to your shop floor to experience something of your business for themselves.

But it’s different, in that this campaign will be conducted online and in print, not on your shop floor. Before I share more about the campaign, here’s an example of why we need to keep speaking up for the reputation of metalcasting.

Below is the text of a radio ad that has been running in the northern Illinois broadcast market.
… Did you know that Illinois is home to five of the biggest manufacturing zip codes in the nation? And the largest industrial park in North America? And did you know that exports of U.S. manufactured goods have quadrupled over the past 25 years? That’s right, manufacturing here in Illinois is strong and growing stronger.

Manufacturing is no longer pouring hot iron into castings on an assembly line, with sparks flying in dirty factories. (Emphasis added.) U.S. manufacturing has advanced into high skilled precision manufacturing ... This Manufacturing Minute brought to you by (name omitted to protect the guilty).

Some in the audience could say “wow, those guys are really competing for employees.”

But for those of us with a stake in the metalcasting industry, this is not just a message about the painful dearth of employees in a time of historically low unemployment. It’s a message that sounds like an  intentionally nasty swipe at metalcasting to take employees from our industry. It’s still posted online. Email me and I’ll send you the link and you can hear it yourself: rjefferson@afsinc.org.

How to respond? The first idea was to phone and write to complain to the organization responsible for this nonsense. Experience teaches that might only escalate the conflict. But it obviously must be answered. The best long-term fix to a public relations problem is usually not a direct counter attack, but an appeal to fact-based common sense. That’s where our new campaign comes in.  Car

There are tens of thousands of metalcast parts in planes, trains, automobiles, pipes, pumps, heavy equipment, and even jewelry that add value to our quality of life we want to highlight in this campaign. Send us your ideas and we’ll incorporate them. Like the well-known battery-driven rabbit pounding the marching band bass drum, this campaign is going to keep going.

We will size the images for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and post them with a caption as you can see in the example. The next step is where your participation comes in. We’re going to make the images available to you so you can post them on your own social media accounts.

I am aware that when the image represents an aluminum casting, those in the iron sector will not want to post the image, and vice versa. However, this is for improving the reputation of the entire industry, not one family of alloys.

We will use lots of other OEM products that are easily recognizable by audiences that know little to nothing about metalcasting. This way we will show the significance of metalcasting. If we’re going to educate the public, does it really matter if you pour iron, aluminum, copper, or anything else?

Participate if you can. And keep an eye out for our next video, Careers in Modern Metalcasting, coming out in the New Year. The testimonials in the video explain why a career in metalcasting is a great choice of a manufacturing career. 

Click here to see this story as it appears in the January 2019 issue of Modern Casting