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Creating A Sustainable Future In Finishing

January - 2010
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DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS AT THE ENGLAND'S INSTITUTE OF METAL FINISHING DISCUSSES THE FUTURE OF FINISHING

In 2009 the Institute of Metal Finishing adopted a public relations strategy designed to build on our existing reputation and achievements. We add value to our membership by protecting their professional standing, driving up stands, improving skills and competence that reinforce sector credibility. But like wider industry, we suffer from a limited identity with decision makers. The Institute President Mr Sam Briggs challenged officers and members to think strategically about future direction and structure. A policy innovation team was formed and it became clear we need to improve communication of our identity, clarify our role and publicize activities more widely.

The Institute holds an influential position within surface engineering, but we need greater internal and external partnerships for sustainability so we can use communication channels to better service our interests. A new portable display stand went into service during June’s successful IMFAIR09 event at RAF Cosford. Two popup banners emphasizing membership benefits and education & training, were seen for the first time at October’s Surface World exhibition.

The Institute became a member of the Birmingham (England) Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the powerful voice of local business. This ensures we can enhance our reputation with local businesses, consolidation was achieved in September with my election to their controlling Council. We also connected with the Institute of Directors, the leading organization for individual decision makers across the business world.

Engaging with domestic and European politicians allowed us to highlight business needs of members and challenge these decision makers. We championed issues such as skills and legislation. Fighting for greater skills support, we took direct action and now represent surface engineering on the Sector Strategy Group of the sector skills council SEMTA. The Institute is building an impressive network of contacts with decision makers, supporting organizations and trade bodies.

A Public Relations Working Group has been formed with the responsibility to manage and develop the Institute image, improve message delivery, connect committees, groups and branches through a common strategy and lead on PR matters whilst supporting Institute officers. It has established five long term goals that will shape and drive actions: 1) Build a positive reputation for the Institute 2) Establish our role as a key influencer 3) Engage with policy and decision makers 4) Ensure consistency of message and image 5) Address the recognition needs of the sector.

In 2010, the Institute team is set to build on these fundamentals, to formalize and clarify our image, increase publicity of events and news. We will profile sustaining members and strengthen links with business, national and internal decision makers whilst promoting ever greater cooperation with other sector representatives on strategic issues. Long term the Institute will gain from an increased level of awareness and understanding. These initiatives will serve to develop our reputation and influence, thereby supporting the wider sector in a proactive and positive manner.