Our firm finished a great project six months ago, and I feel like we missed the boat in terms of getting PR. Although it’s a great project, we never told anyone about it. We didn’t send it out to a lot of publications, and we didn’t do a press release when it finished, even though the client was very happy with our work. One magazine wanted to do a feature story, but they never followed through. However, there is a great story that we could tell about sustainability, among other things. I am afraid that we are too late to fix this. At this point, is there anything we can do?
Dear Behind Schedule,
A lot of people don’t like to go see the Doctor, but this Doctor never judges, she is just here to assess your symptoms, make a diagnosis, and then come up with a cure. And, never fear, this is a fairly common ailment with a pretty fast recovery. We can help!
You need to act quickly, but you can definitely get press for your project. Most print publications will still publish a project up to about one year after it’s completed – after that, you might have a tougher time, but you’re still in the game! Although it’s no longer hot-off-the-press “news,” consider sending the project to architecture publications and green/sustainability publications that might want to write about its unique design features. If you do a post-occupancy survey about the performance of your sustainable systems (hopefully, they meet your anticipated goals and projections), that is another great opportunity to reach out to the press or even invite a local editor or writer for a site visit. Look at editorial calendars that might be featuring green projects or specific project typologies (schools, hospitals, commercial buildings) that might be a good fit. Remember that there are a lot of online publications that are constantly looking for good content. Finally, don’t forget awards programs – there are a ton of them and, if you win, you can get a lot of exposure and bang for your buck. Good luck!
I am a 40-something marketing director at a mid-sized architecture firm in New York City. Our firm works with many of the city’s top developers, and we seem to be on the radar of most of the editors and journalists that cover architecture.
Here’s my dilemma: our partners are do not naturally gravitate towards digital marketing tactics, and they don’t think we need to engage in social media. However, I believe that participation on these platforms is necessary for success in today’s marketplace. How can I convince my bosses that social media is not just a fad or only for younger firms? Help!
Social in Soho
Dear Social in Soho,
I’ll start by telling you a little story: the Doctor does not generally consider herself a luddite, but I myself had reservations when e-mail first came around (yes, the Doctor is old enough to remember fax machines, telexes, and even ditto machines!). I couldn’t remember why anyone would send an e-mail when it was so much easier to pick up the phone. For the record, though, I thought cell phones were a great invention! So go figure.
Look, you’re right, there’s no question that we communicate much differently than we used to. The way I see it, social media does not replace all the good things you’re probably doing already: print publications, conference papers, professional organizations, and let’s not forget the all-important lunches with potential clients and key people in your network! On the other hand, it does offer you more avenues for getting your name out there than ever before.
There are all sorts of reasons why you need to invest time in social media (and I mean hours, not days). Your competition is doing it. Even if you don’t do anything about it, your firm is going to show up on social media. By being proactive, you put yourself in the driver’s seat and determine the messages about your business and the stories that you want people to know about your firm. Journalists are trolling social media for people and ideas, so it’s another way to make connections with the people who you want to know. But if this doesn’t convince your bosses, see our recent blog post. If they’re still scared, call a real (medical) doctor and get a prescription.*
*The Doctor is not a real medical doctor and does not purport to give medical advice.
Editor’s Note: Introducing a brand new column by our very own Dr. Tami Hausman, where she offers practical integrated communications advice to AEC professionals. If you have questions for the Doctor, don’t hesitate to send them to email@example.com. The Doctor is in!
I am an architect with ten years of experience who recently opened my own architecture firm with three colleagues. Each of us comes from large, well-known firms with very high profiles, so getting press for our projects was relatively easy.
Now that we have our own firm – although we have strong connections – we are relatively unknown. Going forward, how can we best approach the media to get noticed and get more work? While we have set some funds aside for marketing and publicity, as a small firm we do not have unlimited resources for these activities at the moment. Where should we start?
Building from Scratch
Dear Building from Scratch,
Well, the first thing I have to say to you is: Congratulations! Starting your own firm is a big leap, and it’s not always easy. It’s important that you recognize the need for outreach to make a name for yourself. Building your reputation, and your influence, is key to building a healthy practice.
So what is the prescription for success? There are a number of things that you can do immediately. First, make sure that you and your partners are speaking with one voice. That’s critical, because you need to communicate clearly about what kind of projects you want to do and where you want to practice (regionally, nationally, globally). Get that elevator speech down pat so you can explain to a potential client why they should hire you, not your competition. And don’t forget to throw a small party to celebrate your new office and make sure everyone knows about it!
Young start-ups don’t always have a portfolio of built work, but there’s no need to worry: editors are always on the lookout for news stories, so send out those renderings even before a project is complete (make sure you have client approval, of course!). If you have some really good projects in the works, set up a meeting with a design editor and show them what you’ve got. You can also take advantage of social media to build a following for your ideas and projects – it’s free and doesn’t need to monopolize all your time. And, finally, make sure you get out and about by attending events where you may meet potential clients. Even in this digital age, nothing beats the opportunity to connect with people face to face.