ABB Process Industries

Communications strategy and global reputation management

Using media relations to educate and engage important audiences

ABB’s Industrial Automation business has some of the best engineering expertise coupled with over a century of automation and electrification know-how in the process industries. It offers integrated digital solutions and services from mine to port and from plant to enterprise.

Admiral is retained by ABB to manage the reputation of its Process Industries business on a global scale. We support six distinct processing sectors all requiring in-depth sector knowledge and expertise: mining, aluminum, cement, metals, pulp & paper, food & beverage; and data centres.

ABB is one of the largest companies in the world. It operates in hundreds of product and service categories in over 100 countries. This led to fragmented and inconsistent communications to customers in process industries. Rather than speaking with one voice, ABB spoke with multiple voices that emphasized different things.

Our mission

Our mission – across global regions – was to:

1. Create (and regularly review) an overarching communications strategy and messaging house supported by individual messaging and content plans for each of the six industry sectors. Importantly, the strategy had to consider the cultural, political, socio economic and practical differences in each regional hub in which ABB operates;

2. Create opportunities for story-telling to position ABB Process Industries as the partner of choice for automation, with a focus on their digital capabilities; and

3. Deliver the above through a robust and impactful PR programme to include media relations, social media outreach, campaign planning and delivery, support for major events and technology/product launches. Specifically, the client also wished us to deliver face to face opportunities for them to meet with key media at trade events to support relationship building.

Strategy

When we started working with ABB in 2018, its focus was on marketing communications rather than media relations. Through research we demonstrated that trade media are hugely influential in the buying decision of customers and are a very important target for educating and engaging audiences.

Our strategy therefore heavily prioritized media relations, with the objective of supercharging ABB’s positive exposure in the media by regularly achieving the major share of voice in key trade publications.

Trade media in these sectors are limited in their numbers in comparison with the energy sector, for example, so we needed an approach that would add most value for the effort. We built a thought leadership approach for the client shaped around showcasing their domain expertise in specific areas around key commercial priorities. This led us to focus our media relations efforts predominantly on pitching in-depth thought leadership opinion pieces to priority titles, supplemented by delivering news around contract wins, partnerships, products launches and upgrades.

To keep our efforts targeted, in advance we identified the top 50 global media for each of the six sectors and developed KPIs around the level of coverage we needed to achieve in these titles.
We also chose to work with a few of the top tier media titles globally at a deeper level, building media partnerships around some of the core topics which we interrogated via research, at events, and in series of live podcasts.

We also set up sophisticated measurement and evaluation metrics using a third-party system, which helps us to effectively measure the businesses’ impact. Comprising a mix of outputs and outcomes related KPIs, ABB now receives detailed quarterly and annual reports that include a set of metrics designed to illustrate trends over time.

Results

The relationship with ABB is ongoing, but the metrics below reflect highlights for the year 2019:
• 62 million global audience reached (social media not included);
• 41 global press releases were issued;
• A total of 529 pieces of coverage appeared;
• 38 of these were in-depth thought leadership articles (between 1000 and 3000 words) on pre-agreed topics that were linked to commercial priorities;
• 94% of features appeared in top tier media titles (those that were pre-agreed at the outset);
• 39 face-to-face media briefings with priority journalists took place at key events including ACE, CERA Week, PaperCon, Hannover Messe and BAUMA.

“Admiral is a highly professional PR agency with excellent relationships with a wide range of industry and technology media. But what really sets Admiral apart is the close and personal relationship that the account team has developed with us, to a point where we all trust and have total confidence in them as advisors and in representing us directly with our senior experts and executives. We rely on them to ensure the correct messages and technical information are included in every piece to strengthen ABB’s technology leadership position.”

Global marketing communications manager, ABB Process Industries

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