National Association of Manufacturers beefs up comms team

The National Association of Manufacturers is investing more in digital and rapid response comms for the pace of the Trump era.

L-R: Keith Smith, Andrew Clark, and Michael Short
L-R: Keith Smith, Andrew Clark, and Michael Short

WASHINGTON: The National Association of Manufacturers has shaken up its comms team with hires in public affairs, digital, and strategic communications.

Keith Smith, former chief of staff, moved to the role of SVP of public affairs and mobilization; former White House senior assistant press secretary Michael Short joined as senior director of strategic communications; and Andrew Clark, former opinions editor at the Independent Review Journal, was hired as manager of digital communications.

"The election certainly was a moment for everyone, but we have been moving toward to this agile, flexible, and adaptable organization before that," said Erin Streeter, SVP of communications and brand strategy at the group. "The election was definitely an accelerator. We are going to continue to evolve as the environment, not just political environment, but also the environment of communications and media is starting to change."

The trade body for the manufacturing industry represents and advocates on behalf of 14,000 manufacturing companies around the U.S. The association was founded in 1895.

The organization created the strategic and digital comms roles to reflect the change in the political and communications environment. The organization has refocused on running more digital campaigns, including the #TruthOnTheTrail campaign during the election, #You’reHired during the inauguration, and Creators Wanted, which launched this month.

"Looking at the new hires in totality, there’s a shift that's happening in advocacy work," Streeter said. "We are working more in real time, using a lot of different mechanisms to achieve our goals. The digital space was clearly going to continue to dominate how we position ourselves and provide commentary to the issues of the day. Rapid response as an organization is operating in real time whether it's in the press space or the advocacy space. We need to understand what is happening, finding opportunities in real time and inserting yourself in them and providing value."

Smith oversees advocacy and grassroots initiatives and partnerships with third parties and allied organizations, according to the organization. He started in the new role in July and replaced Ned Monroe, who left in January to join SC Johnson.

Smith has worked at NAM since 2005, serving as director of employment and labor policy, adviser to the president, and chief of staff before taking on the new position.

"[Smith is] the mobilization piece," Streeter said. "Communications goes hand-in-hand with mobilization. His goal is grassroots and grasstops, and getting people out there actively engaging with our agenda."

Short handles media relations and rapid response efforts for the association. He resigned his role as senior assistant press secretary after Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus left the White House. Short previously worked with the Republican National Committee for about seven years, most recently as director of rapid response and national spokesperson before joining the Trump administration.

Clark joined the group in September and is responsible for bolstering the association’s online presence. Before his tenure with the Independent Review Journal, Clark was digital press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee and had worked in the agency world.

"[The news cycle has] gone from a 24-hour news cycle to a one-hour news cycle and that campaign war-room mentality is here to stay," said Jamie Hennigan, VP of communications at the organization. "[Clark and Short] are the type of talent we’re trying to bring on here to strengthen our ability to implement that rapid response, war room strategy."

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