Last year was rough for foreign-based businesses in the US. There was a distrust that existed and a preference for US companies, especially in infrastructure. Siemens Corp., the US division of Germany's Siemens AG, an electronics and engineering leader, worked with Weber Shandwick to strengthen its reputation in the US market.
The main objective, said Jennifer Risi, WS EVP and co-leader of its global strategic media group, was to make Siemens synonymous with US infrastructure solutions. Siemens has multiple divisions, but the company's strengths were unclear in the US market. "We wanted to position them as an innovation leader," says Risi.
The PR team's approach was three-pronged: build a foundation and engage in proactive media relations, promote Siemens' industry leadership, and align all communications with Siemens' core messaging. It also aimed to strengthen internal communications by making Siemens employees proud of their employer.
WS and Siemens found opportunities for Siemens executives to discuss energy, healthcare, and water topics in the press. The team also localized the story in regional markets, what Risi calls the "ambassador cities" of Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, to increase its presence there. They inserted Siemens into discussions on innovation, demonstrating how the company is adapting to the changing marketplace.
WS illustrates the effort's success by noting that CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo did two Siemens segments in one month. Interest from prospective customers increased: Online ad views rose 169%, and ad clicks increased 73% for the year. Siemens won several multimillion-dollar contracts and, in Q3, posted a 22% year-over-year increase in new orders and sales in the US. "Our media strategy to highlight our innovations and work in communities helped Siemens build relationships with our customers and motivate our employees," says Esra Ozer, senior director of external communications for Siemens.
Risi expects WS' assignment to extend globally.
PR team: Siemens Corp. (New York) and Weber Shandwick (New York)
Campaign: Building America's 21st Century Infrastructure
Duration: October 2005 to September 2006