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Words of Wisdom: Women in Communications

womens history pr communicationsWrapping up this Women’s History Month, we’re featuring some inspirational—and insightful—answers by women in the PR business to the question: Knowing what you now know about work and success, what advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

There is no crystal ball. You don’t know where you will end up, so enjoy the journey and enjoy wherever it takes you. Work as hard as you can and learn as much as you can. Be curious, be inquisitive, and ask a lot of questions. Be indispensable. Always do your best and impress with your enthusiasm. Build lasting relationships.—Tami Hausman, Hausman LLC

If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. Go out there and get it.—Liz Torres, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Play the long game and don’t look for shortcuts.—Amy Lyons, SHIFT Communications

Be the person everyone want to work with and ultimately you’ll be the person everyone wants to work for.—Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Aflac

Celebrating Women's History Month: Women in PR

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As a Minority/Women Owned Business, we’re pleased to see the many ways Women’s History Month is being observed. One celebration has particular relevance for us: The role of women in the PR business is the focus of a new exhibition at the Museum of Public Relations and Library. The opening of the show was marked by a panel discussion of the contributions women have made to the industry over the years; participants included Karen Russell, University of Georgia; Meg Lamme, University of Alabama; Karla Gower, University of Alabama and director of the Plank Center; Muriel Fox, co-founder and PR director for the National Organization for Women; and Anne Bernays, novelist, teacher, and daughter of PR pioneer Doris Fleischman Bernays.

Open by appointment, the museum is home to the world’s largest collection of historic public relations materials and artifacts. Books, journals, letters, posters, audio tapes, and films chronicle the evolution of the field and the innovative women—and men—who help shape the way we see the world.

Communicate Your Work with Strong Architectural Photography

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Photography is an essential marketing tool for architects, but too many firms fall short on photographically documenting their buildings. Architectural photography has the ability to show a building “in action” — demonstrating how people use and live in it, showing off programmatic elements and telling the building’s story. But you should take care that the images you show to prospective clients, as well as those you post on your website and share on social media, communicate both your project’s success and your strengths as an architect.

Many of your prospective clients may never visit your projects in person, and they may never see your space alive, filled with human interaction, and performing as programmed. Nor will they experience the sensibility of the space: the sculptural height of a room, the carefully conceived wash of light against plaster, steel, or stone. They may not witness firsthand the painstaking detail of a stair. Words can describe, and your enthusiasm can excite, but it’s excellent photography that will truly help you tell the story of your project — and thus create more opportunities for your firm.

The success of your practice lies in the photographer’s ability to translate your architectural craft into vivid images that reflect your aspirations and bring your vision to life. You are paying for a photographer’s experience to interpret the geometry of a space, to combine proper equipment and post-production savvy to get that final, sublime still image. The art of a good architectural photographer lies in her translation of how the eye reads the lightness and shadow, foreground and background and the sensual detail of texture. Although the iPhone takes great photos, you would be selling your work short by relying on snapshots for project documentation. So there is real value in hiring the right photographer to document your work.

Take a moment to review the photographs you are using to represent your work. Look at them as if you are seeing your projects for the first – or only – time, solely based on these images. Are they strong, vibrant, as-if-you-were-there images? Or are they too dark, blurry, or have an off-color cast? Furthermore, do these images show the technical beauty of your space or building, yet fail to capture the human side of what happens there, leaving images that read cold and lifeless, devoid of people and activity?

 

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For me, what makes architectural photography really special is its potential to narrate a building’s story. Architecture has the capacity to affect society: to create better, more livable places and, thus, to improve lives. The challenge for the photographer is to reveal the building’s functionality and the social interactions of its users in a way that’s authentic and spatial. A good architectural photographer is not only a master technician, but also an excellent storyteller: she combines aesthetics with a journalistic eye so that captions are unnecessary.

When I shoot, I seek out spaces and places where people congregate, live, and work. To best capture the social side of the building, I try to inhabit the space for a while and watch the building function. From there, the challenge (and fun) is to capture a moment in the building’s life that represents how it looks every day, and to represent — to an individual who may never experience the project first-hand — how the architect and client envisioned it to function.

 

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Hiring a photographer is how you close out a project. The space has been realized, the fees received and the creative energy of the architect is leaning towards the next project. In some cases, you may never step back into the spaces that you’ve designed. Your future work depends on how your past projects market your architectural skill. So before you leave your space finished, hire a talented photographer who can accurately document your work, the energy with which you have imbued it and your vision that created it.

Aislinn Weidele is the Director of Creative Services for Hausman LLC and an expert in architectural photography and graphic design. Top image © Aislinn Weidele/Gotham Projects; second image © James Ewing Photography; bottom image © Michael Moran/OTTO

Inspiring Women in Communications: Tracey A. Reeves

tracey-reeves-johns-hopkinsIn honor of Women’s History Month, for our March installment of Design on the Haus, we are shining the spotlight on women in the field of communications who inspire us. We think it’s important to share their stories, and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

In our first post, we’re featuring Tracey A. Reeves, the Director of Media Relations for Johns Hopkins University. Tracey was born in Syracuse, New York, and raised on Cape Cod. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, she spent a decade at the Washington Post working as a reporter and editor. She was also a national staff writer for Knight-Ridder Newspapers and a reporter for the Providence Journal.

Tracey has been a Casey Journalism Center Fellow and a Knight Center for Specialized Journalism Fellow. In 1998, she shared in the Pulitzer Prize for public service awarded to the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald. Tracey is an avid reader, writer, sports fan and news junkie. She resides in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband and twin sons.

Here’s her story:

These days it can be difficult to find a job in the field that you trained for and that you love. I was one of those kids who knew from an early age that I wanted to be a writer, specifically, a news writer. I decided this following a series of events that started after I read Maya Angelou’s coming-of-age autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

My career path became more clearly defined when I was in college and heard of the death of Jessica Savitch, a television news broadcaster who at the time was one of my favorite journalists. I combined my love of writing and news and embarked on a print journalism career beginning at my hometown paper in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and ending at the Washington Post, where I worked for more than a decade as a reporter and editor.

I was drawn to journalism because I’ve always believed in telling stories about truth and triumph and injustice and hope. Now, as Director of Media Relations at Johns Hopkins University, I am still doing what I love – writing and editing and communicating stories, only now the stories are about the wonders of discovery and innovation and the advancement of human knowledge.

When I first thought about a career in journalism and communications, I was hesitant. Many of the reporters and anchors I had seen on television were men. The same was true for the bylines I studied in the major newspapers. Even fewer were African American women. I pushed on, however, hoping that my writing and communications skills would take me where I wanted to go — and they did. Sure, there were bumps along the road, assignments I believe lost out on because I was a young woman (maybe even a black woman). Even now, I am mindful of the fact that as a minority woman, I am held to a higher standard than my non-female minority counterparts.

To the young women considering or just embarking on a career in communications, I would say develop your own writing voice and style and find a veteran to mentor you. Pack on the skills. Learn how to tell a multi-platform story through words, photos and video. Know your subject matter, pay attention to your own delivery of messages and polish your public speaking skills. You never know when you might be called upon to make a presentation or serve as a spokesperson in a crisis. Lastly, believe in yourself. If you don’t, they won’t.

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