Nov 2021

PR chips in to save supply chains

Written by Paul Maher

PR chips in to save supply chains

Anyone who avoided knowing how incredibly convoluted global supply chains are, can no longer do so.

The pandemic brought to the fore the multitude of factors needed just for today’s seemingly well-oiled supply chains to work. The truth is the pandemic has become an enormous spanner in the works. 

Now it is clear. The once solid supply chains used for everything from manufacturing cars to Walkers crisps are delicate and prone to fragmentation. It is crunch time. One cog goes awry, and they crumble. 

When salted snack supply chains felt the impact of the disruption, the story entered the public arena. The lesson? As long as everything works, invisibly and efficiently, the public does not pay much attention. When supply chains are at breaking point, both media and audiences pay attention to their inner workings.

Adding one more voice to the conversation

All good PR professionals keep an ear to the ground and hear what questions the media are asking. This helps us know how they serve their audiences’ interests, and how experts and solution providers respond to issues in the new agenda. Then comes an interesting challenge: how to take part in a conversation which includes the whole world? 

Our experience shows the answer lies in clear messages, devoid of fuzzy wording or self-aggrandisement, and a flexible approach to pitching our clients. Of course, not everyone is talking about the supply chain in the same way, making the same points, or looking at the same aspect. So it’s crucial to know what each publication and its readers want from the conversation: from thoughts and analysis on what went wrong, to potential solutions and recommendations.

In the UK though, no PR will be successful by blindly praising clients, even if their offering is indeed good and helpful. Instead we have to focus on what makes our client a valuable source for a specific publication, journalist and topic.

Who can help the world?

Global supply chain awareness now seems to be here to stay, in the media and in the public mind – a good thing since we all depend heavily on it. As businesses get better educated about supply chain complexities, they naturally search for solutions and technology to smooth them out. 

It is the media’s role to keep their business audiences updated with advancements which can make their life easier. Healing supply chains means integrating nodes across the world, which in turn enables data to move faster. This avoids time-wasting or late delivery fees. As a bonus of course, keeping each touchpoint secure keeps the whole structure safe from cyber attacks.

The immense wastage caused by goods being transported, stored, transported again, and potentially returned, is eye watering. Pleasingly, technology is here to help with a crucial element: making supply chains sustainable. The consultancy firm McKinsey estimated in 2016 that 90% of companies’ impact on the environment came from supply chains.

We can only assume today we are doing worse. Water and soil pollution, deforestation, hazardous air emissions and excessive energy use happen in global and local supply chains. The environmental damage is all the more horrific because, with the right tech solutions, it can be avoided. And, now the public knows their crisps are threatened, the chips are really down for supply chain professionals.

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