Brien McDaniel, Director of Communications, Senior Associate, for FXFOWLE, has over 23 years of communications, media relations, and special event management experience for higher education, cultural institutions, and architectural practices. At FXFOWLE, Brien is responsible for ensuring that all communication strategies are integrated with the overall vision, values, and strategic business goals of the firm. He also leads the FXFOWLE’s social media initiatives and secures press coverage across all international media outlets.
Today, Brien gives an overview of the planning process behind the release of Reveal Filter Evolve Effect, the latest monograph from FXFOWLE. Next week, he’ll go into the details of producing and publicizing the book, and the results of the outreach.
A brand is worthless if it doesn’t connect with the right audiences in a relevant way.
I came across the above quote while preparing a presentation on FXFOWLE’s monograph, Reveal Filter Evolve Effect (ORO Editions, 2015) for the 2016 AIA convention. I was immediately drawn to it because it encapsulates everything I try to accomplish in marketing and communications, but in particular, it’s a “hit the nail on the head” description the strategic approach I took in planning the book’s release.
My presentation on the FXFOWLE monograph launch was part of a panel discussion (along with Tami Hausman and David Rocosalva of EverGreene Architectural Arts) which focused on the advantages of combining traditional and digital marketing. If you are planning a multi-media campaign, whether for a new monograph, a project announcement, or marketing initiative, I hope my recent experience might inform your efforts when promoting your brand.
A little background about Reveal Filter Evolve Effect (since I’m talking about a book, think of it as a prologue of sorts) will give a bit of perspective on the project. Since the firm’s founding in 1978, FXFOWLE has published three monographs. The two previous books are very traditional and follow a structure common to many monographs: a look back at a body of completed works. For Reveal Filter Evolve Effect, we wanted to break away from the conventional and place more emphasis on the firm’s philosophy and practice. This was a strategic opportunity to be memorable and unique, and, like the aforementioned quote, to connect in a relevant way.
Who is your audience?
With a limited press run of 1,500 copies, we knew we couldn’t send a book to everyone in our database, nor could we afford to do so. The initial edit of the list was easy; staff, colleagues, clients, potential clients, and of course members of the media would receive a copy. But who else should we reach? Well, since we wanted to better connect with academia, we added deans and professors from prominent architecture schools to the list. And then we thought to include influential people—specific individuals such as real estate developers, business professionals, and industry experts who are persuasive, admired, opinionated, and have their finger on the pulse (It didn’t hurt if they had huge Twitter followings, too, which would help our launch announcement go viral). These were people with whom we had little or no existing relationships, but wanted to connect or engage with them further.
What are your goals?
We identified four objectives for our launch campaign:
- Initiate strategic partnerships and build new relationships with potential clients, organizations, and key influencers.
- Strengthen our reputation as a design firm or even reshape that perception.
- Promote our firm culture.
- Last and not easiest: Get Reveal Filter Evolve Effect reviewed in at least one architecture/design publication.
How do you shape your approach?
Because we wanted to approach the monograph’s launch consistent with the manner in which we developed its concept and design—to be different, set ourselves apart from other firms, to be super-heroes (like my good friends and colleagues at Hausman Communications)—we opted not to go the traditional route with a firm-wide party or a one-off event. We brainstormed (yes, that meant a lot of meetings!) and came up with three concepts:
- Create strategic opportunities to share big ideas.
- Find the most effective, thoughtful, and surprising ways to connect with our audience.
- Whenever possible, elevate the design dialogue.
How are you going to accomplish everything?
To follow through on these approaches, in the six months preceding the release of Reveal Filter Evolve Effect, our team of three partners, two marketing/communication coordinators, a graphic designer, and myself laid the groundwork for a series of special events that would provide simultaneous opportunities to publicize the book and the FXFOWLE brand. Panel discussions, invitation-only dinners to facilitate one-to-one connections with VIPs (we called them ‘salon dinners’), traditional book signings, college lectures, and an art exhibition that highlighted the firm’s creative process allowed us to reach a diverse, targeted audience in memorable ways.
Next week: We look at the details of producing and publicizing the book, and the results of the outreach.