WASHINGTON, DC -- The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and several of its partners were awarded the 2012 Campaign Excellence Award for “Public Affairs Campaign of the Year” from the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC).
The AAPC award is formal recognition that AAM, a non-partisan group launched in 2007, has succeeded in shifting the entire jobs debate in the U.S. toward a fundamental revival of American manufacturing.
“While we’ve been keeping our nose to the grindstone, we’ve helped to make some big things happen,” said AAM Executive Director Scott Paul. “When the House Democrats launched a ‘Make it in America’ initiative, when Mitt Romney started taking a hard line on China, when President Obama made manufacturing a top priority in the State of the Union, when the White House convened a business summit to urge ‘reshoring,’ frankly, a lot of that was thanks to AAM’s non-stop work.”
In 2011, AAM unleashed a barrage of reports and statements that argued persuasively for a renewed focus on manufacturing. With national elections looming, this work found a receptive audience throughout Washington.
Michael Wessel, President of The Wessel Group and an adviser to AAM, was among those included in the award. He said, “It’s a great honor to receive this award in recognition of the efforts of our entire team. It’s also a tribute to the work that so many people have undertaken to promote the revitalization of manufacturing, and to restoring jobs and economic vitality here in America.”
Tracy Sefl, a long-time communications consultant to AAM, said the group’s consistent rallying point—strong enforcement of existing U.S. trade law—has proven to be a wise refrain in a nation weary of negativity. "AAM is advocating for reasonable proposals that Americans of all partisan stripes agree with, something that doesn't happen often in the political sphere. But over the past five years, we’ve seen tremendous enthusiasm, from town hall meetings and social media to everything in between.”
One of AAM’s most dramatic projects was the nationwide polling conducted by Mark Mellman, CEO of The Mellman Group, and Whit Ayres, President of North Star Opinion Research. Both Mellman and Ayres were included in the AAPC award thanks to the impact generated by their research, which found broad voter agreement across the political spectrum for a strong manufacturing base and a get-tough attitude toward China. AAM arranged briefings on the findings with the Hill, the White House, GOP campaigns, and the media, resulting in coverage with major outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, Daily Kos, and Roll Call. Politico subsequently credited the research and findings as being “the catalyst for [Congress’s and the Administration’s] manufacturing agenda.”
Said Mellman, “Our research generated a host of new findings showing that voters prioritized job creation, even over deficit reduction; discovering that Americans no longer believed we were the world’s economic leader; demonstrating that voters see manufacturing as the irreplaceable bedrock of economic strength; uncovering public concern about the economic threat from China; revealing massive bipartisan support for a host of pro-manufacturing policies; and outlining a political message strategy around manufacturing issues.”
Added Ayres, “We were privileged to work with AAM on research that demonstrated overwhelming support for American manufacturing. AAM’s message, which is focused on the importance of manufacturing for a healthy economy, enjoys broad and bipartisan appeal."
Of the poll’s ongoing impact, Paul said, “We’ve known the economic benefits of revitalizing manufacturing for a long time. Voters have understood that, as well. But hardly anyone in Washington had made the connection. Once we were able to persuasively argue both the economic benefits of manufacturing and its outsized popularity, we knew we had a winner.”
AAM vows to keep on trucking in 2012, with more town halls and other projects. Paul said the group’s recent launch of a “Should Be Made in America” campaign is simply one more step along a colorful and influential path.
“Elected officials have learned that AAM doesn’t play favorites, and doesn’t go easy on either party. We’re now pressing very strongly for Buy America policy in a lot of planned bridge and rail projects. Our work runs nationwide, as evidenced by the billboard campaign we launched last month near the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. We’re looking forward to the work ahead as manufacturing continues to regain jobs and to rebuild itself for the 21st Century.”