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Nine years ago I had the exciting opportunity to join forces with the Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC) in Pennsylvania. It was there that I met Karen Buck. The team at MRC was facing a workforce issue. In the next several years most of their client’s workforce would be retiring and not too many younger workers had the skills in trade jobs. So a team, Karen Buck, Terri Haddad and Jack Pfunder joined together to come up with an idea.

Step One: Have a problem? Join forces with those who are passionate about finding a solution.

The idea of “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” (WSCM) was born. Developed by (MRC), the WSCM program is a video based educational tool that increases awareness of career paths and technology in manufacturing through “peer marketing” (kids telling kids what’s so cool about manufacturing jobs.). The contest is showcased on the What’s So Cool Website and shared nationally through the Manufacturing Institute and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership platforms. The Lehigh Valley contest has expanded across the Commonwealth and the country. The WSCM Video Library was created as a digital resource showcasing more than 500 Pennsylvania manufacturers.

Karen Buck

Karen Buck

Step Two: Develop and Spread your story across as wide an audience as possible to gain support.

Our public relations team at Sahl Communications, Inc developed a robust plan to reach audiences in key areas to encourage their support of the program. At the same time Karen was moving forces to gain recognition in the areas of workforce, education and manufacturing forces on a national level. Locally the program received significant support from the Lehigh Valley Workforce Board, area school districts and teachers, local and state Departments of Economic Development and a community that was so strong in being supportive local restaurants would hang signs supporting the students. Now add in the media component and poof the program was on its way. The program was launched just as Twitter was becoming popular so social media was on the rise. The team at SahlComm quickly utilized the new tools and connected with third party companies such as GoPro Cameras. The third party companies extended the story through their social outreach. The program gain media visibility and the awards show is now broadcasted live each year by WFMZTV

Step Three: Share your program idea with others who need it

Two years after the local program of WSCM was successful other areas in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania decided to adopt it to help aid their regional manufacturing businesses. In the fifth year of the program almost of the counties in the state had joined onboard. Being open to helping teach is vital to making your idea grow across the nation. Gaining county, state and federal acceptance continues to be a critical component to the success of the WSCM program.

The WSCM program, which started in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, is in its ninth year. It is in counties all across the state and holds a state competition each year. It has also expanded out to other states across America and has gained national support and recognition. It will continue to grow through the efforts of each of the teams and the leadership of people, like Karen Buck, who are passionate to make a change.

Join me in this week’s Master Your Story Podcast where I had the opportunity to hear more about what IS so cool about manufacturing.

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