Aerospace body boosts PR to defend UK industry

The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) has created a PR team as part of a strategy to protect the interests of the aerospace and defence industries in the face of foreign competition.

It has snared Paul Everitt, comms chief at automotive trade body The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), to become its communications director from 14 February.

The SBAC has also hired defence PR specialist Mary Ann Griffiths to head its media relations, and British Chambers of Commerce policy adviser Sarah Macken to head public affairs.

The SBAC’s last PRO left in March 2004 and the move follows a strategic review by Media Strategy involving more than 20 of the society’s 200-plus members, including BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

The review found that the SBAC – formed in 1916 – was seen as an ‘old-fashioned, old-boy-style trade association’ and had not adjusted to the shift in government funding sources to regional development agencies.

‘It is difficult to generate investment for innovation from the private sector because returns are not always favourable, so there is a need for investment from the public sector,’ said Media Strategy consultant Enda Joyce.

As comms director, Everitt will oversee the development of the comms team, which will be charged with more effective lobbying, media monitoring and issues campaigning. The team will also outsource PR for the society’s flagship event The Farnborough Air Show.

The society will have an eye on the clash between the European and American aerospace industries over accusations of illegal public subsidies.

Boeing and Airbus have accused each other of receiving illegal subsidies; the matter has been taken up with the World Trade Organisation.

The UK aerospace industry is the second biggest in the world after the US, and is worth £17bn a year.

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