How PR Adds Value to Architecture Firms

Dear Doctor,

The partners at our architecture firm are having a debate about the most effective way to raise our profile. It would be a big step for us to work with a public relations agency, but it seems like it might be the best approach. (I should mention that it’s also the most popular idea amongst our leadership.) Can you please explain some of the ways PR can add value to an architecture firm?

Thank you—

Ready to Take the PR Plunge


Dear Ready,

Well, ready or not, here you go! Sorry, but I couldn’t resist a little pun. You know, the Doctor’s sense of humor is just like her martinis—very dry. But to get serious, because the Doctor does have a serious side (she would deny it in public), I am very excited that your leaders are considering a PR program. Why? Because, to me, you can describe value of PR by referring to that old saying, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same thing is true of PR for AEC firms. Let’s face it: you finish a great project with all sorts of interesting stories, and then…if you don’t tell anyone about it, how would they even have a clue? I mean, you might tell a couple of your friends and colleagues, and that might manage to eke out a quiet whimper, but your work is probably not going to set off any fireworks that way. But let’s say that you do something different this time and you decide to launch a proactive PR campaign. There’s no question that it will definitely help you in comparison to what you are doing now…which is probably (I would guess?) nothing. And then think of this: while you’re focused on delivering all your projects really well (and, don’t get me wrong, Ready, you should!), many of your competitors have active PR programs and they’re getting great press for them. Don’t cry in your chai latte, though, because it’s September, and we all have that little back-to-school itch, so it’s time to sharpen your pencils, crack open that brand-new notebook, and get started! In terms of overall value, that’s for you and your partners to judge. But the Doctor has two sets of criteria that she tends to rely on. The first are the qualitative or touchy-feely reasons: for example, it’s nice to see your name in print. I don’t know anyone who would argue with that (some people can’t get enough of it; take our President for example)! Getting more exposure can also increase the professional recognition of experts in your firm and raise your firm’s profile. That’s all good and well, but these reasons may be too soft for your partners. So let me explain some of the hard-hitting or quantitative results. Good press can show people what you know and differentiate your firm based on its knowledge and expertise. Think about it this way: it’s ok if you said that your firm just completed a successful project and posted that all over social media, but imagine how much more impact it has if someone else says how terrific your firm is–that’s the beauty of having other people write about it. Also, when you’re proactive about, you can control what other people say about your work; you’re not just sitting around hoping for compliments! And, finally, when you’re out and about and building your reputation, PR can help bring potential clients to you. Ultimately, you want people to hear all about your firm—through articles in the press, thought leadership, social media, lectures, etc., etc., etc.—so they come to YOU. That doesn’t mean that I’m giving you an excuse to be a couch potato! You still have to bust a move. Remember what I said at the beginning: on your mark, ready, set, goooooo!