On January 24, 2017, the Public Relations Society of America issued a brief statement that we’d like to share:
[Illustration from “Facts are Sacred” by Simon Rogers]
PRSA Statement on “Alternative Facts”
Truth is the foundation of all effective communications. By being truthful, we build and maintain trust with the media and our customers, clients and employees. As professional communicators, we take very seriously our responsibility to communicate with honesty and accuracy.
The Public Relations Society of America, the nation’s largest communications association, sets the standard of ethical behavior for [our] 22,000 members through our Code of Ethics. Encouraging and perpetuating the use of alternative facts by a high-profile spokesperson reflects poorly on all communications professionals.
PRSA strongly objects to any effort to deliberately misrepresent information. Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead, or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.
—Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, Chair of the Society for 2017
Truth and integrity are at the heart of our practice at Hausman. We’re proud that for nearly a decade we have earned the trust of both our clients and journalists by delivering information and ideas that are fact-checked and objective.
Do you want to be top-of-mind not only with people that you want to do business with, but also with those who can help build your influence? The secret is to get personal. Here are four tips to help build your professional relationships and get larger returns as a result.
1. Reach out IRL. In this world of e-mails, texts, and tweets, the value of a phone call is often underestimated. Take time every so often to pick up the phone to touch base with a prospective client or colleague. You can also stop by a client’s office to say hello or drop off a small token of appreciation you’ve picked up during a recent trip. Gestures like these let people know you’re thinking about them, and that they are important to you.
2. Perfect your timing. Reaching out is key, but don’t forget to factor in when it’s appropriate to do so. Don’t just get in touch with journalists when you want them to write about you or cover your project. Instead, suggest meeting for a coffee—your treat—to talk about the stories they are working on now and down the road. Make a friendly introduction to a third party that shares common interests with your writer friend. Send a thank you note and connect on social media by sending a LinkedIn invitation within a day or two after your meeting.
3. Socialize on social media. Social media is an essential tool for successful marketing. You can share your work and ideas in real time, while simultaneously making connections with other design pros. Maintain active Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and open up communication channels with writers, peers, and potential clients. Connect with, or ask for an introduction to, those folks you want to know. Familiarize yourself with journalists’ Twitter handles and say hi once in awhile. (Of course, don’t forget to mention your latest project!)
4. Really get to know people. If you take the time to find out what’s important to the individuals you want to connect with, your chances of establishing professional relationships with them will increase. Make a list of personal as well as professional details about each person, ranging from their alma mater to their extra-curricular accomplishments to what non-work-related subjects in which he or she is interested. If you demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about a person’s life outside of work, it shows you’re interested in building a mutually beneficial relationship.
To help you perfect your communications strategy in 2017, we’ve put together a pop PR quiz highlighting some common misconceptions about public relations. How do you think you’ll score?
True or False: Use as many social media platforms as possible to promote your projects
FALSE. It may be tempting to set up as many profiles as possible in the hopes of reaching the widest audience, but it’s more effective to selectively choose the channels that will reach your target audiences. For example, image-centric Instagram is ideal for showing your firm’s creativity through photographs; more text-heavy postings on LinkedIn will connect with executives. Remember “Less is more”: It’s the way you use your social media platforms that matters, not how many you use.
True or False: Designing a great building means your firm will get noticed immediately
FALSE. Your latest project may be the best work your firm has ever done, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will get top press coverage overnight. Quality editorial requires solid strategy. Developing an effective PR campaign for your firm and projects takes time. Getting the word out about your work should start long before the project is finished, so it is helpful to establish a schedule for all press related activities. Update your social media regularly with photos of the project to alert the press to construction milestones.
True or False: If an editor doesn’t answer your follow up about a project, it’s helpful to reach out again
TRUE. If an editor hasn’t responded to your follow up about your latest project, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re not interested. The key to grabbing an editor’s attention is to find new ways of pitching your project; don’t just repeat the content of your last email. Tip: Keep your emails concise. Make the most important information easy to find by putting it in the first few sentences, or use bullet points to call out key ideas.
True or False: Social media is impersonal and time consuming
FALSE. Social media offers a great advantage in showcasing your firm’s personality by providing a “behind the scenes” look at your firm and its work. You can offer brief, personable updates that don’t need to follow the formalities of press releases. Updating your accounts daily or a few times a week takes only a couple minutes, and can help keep your firm’s name top-of-mind with clients and target audiences.
True or False: Developing relationships with the media is not as important as sending out lots of press releases
FALSE. To create meaningful exposure for your projects, quality content is essential, not the number of press releases you send out. It’s important to keep in mind that while reporters might not cover a story the first time you pitch to them, maintaining regular contact with them can help lead to an exclusive story down the line. That’s why building a professional network of media contacts is critical. By establishing a solid rapport with an editor, it will increase the odds that he or she will remember you the next time they’re looking for a story on a specific type of project.
Hiring a public relations agency is a positive, proactive step in building your brand and reaching the right audiences with your message. While most searches will start with the internet, don’t forget other sources for recommendations: professional organizations, colleagues, and even competitors will be able to offer suggestions on who to consider (and just as importantly, who to avoid). Once you’ve identified some potential PR firms to hire, it’s time to take a closer look at their qualifications:
People and practices. In a large part, you’ll be entrusting your business’ reputation to a public relations agency, so it’s key to have good chemistry with—and confidence in—its management and staff. Do some sleuthing, and check out their LinkedIn profiles and professional bios. Follow up with a face-to-face meeting, and find out who will work on your account and in what capacity.
Corporate culture. Will you be best served by working with a large PR firm, with a traditional organizational structure and resources? Or would you find a small, specialized shop that’s an upstart in the industry more in keeping with your own business style? Think about whether you want to be challenged—or complemented—by your public relations team.
Results. As with any hire, you’ll need to get and vet references for every public relations agency you are seriously considering. There are two sides to this: feedback from the firm’s current and former clients, and recognition by the PR industry. Ambitions are all well and good, but achievements are what counts.
While 2017 is officially upon us, before we close the books on 2016, we’d like to share some of last month’s editorial success stories. Here’s a select list of Hausman’s architectural and engineering clients in the December press.
Civil Engineering covers one of Arup‘s projects in Mexico City, Torre Reforma
Gluckman Tang‘s Extreme Model Railroad Museum in North Adams, MA made The Architect’s Newspaper
Deryl McKissack of McKissack & McKissack is profiled in Chicago Woman
SNAP (Sweets News and Products) quotes Dillon Kyle of Dillon Kyle Architects
Francis Cauffman is named to Architectural Record‘s list of top 300 architecture firms
Architecture critic Ed Gunts checks out Behnisch Architekten‘s Langsdale Library at the University of Baltimore
Healthcare Design recognizes excellence at Francis Cauffman
e-architect reviews the 2016 highpoints of Kevin Kennon Architects
W Architecture and Landscape Architecture and ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers are featured in Oculus magazine
Medical Dealer taps Francis Cauffman for insight on technology for radiology departments in hospitals