Working With The Media

AIA-NJIn our recent year end review of the 2014 activities of the AIA New Jersey Public Awareness Committee, we asked you to stay tuned for tools that will help you make a splash in the press. Below, is the first in a series of articles that will help you in that regard. This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more. With your help, we hope to be able to leverage our strength in numbers to help promote architects and architecture.

You’ve just completed design and implementation of your plans for a building. Or perhaps you feel that the media is ignoring an important architectural story in the news. The question is: Now what? How can you leverage your hard work and expertise to build your reputation and attract future business prospects?

Luckily, for architects, several avenues exist to publicize projects through “earned media” – that is, unpaid, “legitimate” news stories. And with the proliferation of specialized digital media, it’s even more likely that a building that you’ve helped to design can garner significant media coverage.

But first thing’s first. It’s often not enough to simply “cold call” a news outlet in order to garner ink. Working with the media is as much about building relationships as it is about hard news. Remember, reporters are people, too!

Building a working acquaintanceship with your local media is effective not only in building respect for your firm’s individual projects, but also in positioning yourself as a go-to expert for architectural issues. Reporters will often need to quickly reach out to an industry expert in order to obtain necessary information or print a quote for their story. This process is called source filing.

Luckily, beginning the dialogue with your local media is relatively straightforward:

  • Familiarize yourself with local media: The first step to interacting with your local reporters is to understand their publication and their area of expertise. Read your local papers and identify which reporters report on real estate, business, and community development.
  • Email a reporter: In most publications, it’s easy to locate an email address for a particular reporter on its website. Simply send a brief “hello” introducing yourself, your practice, and your specific area of expertise. It helps to reference a story that the reporter wrote recently, which demonstrates your familiarity with their work.
  • Call the publication: Particularly when you’re seeking to connect with a reporter about a timely issue, it’s best to call the publication’s main number and ask for the reporter. You can even invite them to lunch or coffee as an introduction.

While these approaches may not translate to instantaneous news coverage, building a relationship with your local reporter is the most prudent first step to constructing your own public relations campaign. Over time, it will pay dividends.

For more suggestions, refer to AIA Best Practices – Getting Good Press on the web at www.aia.org. Please note this is a password protected, member only website. Therefore, we cannot provide a direct link to the site for you. But you can find it under Practicing Architecture; Best Practices; Part 2 – Firm Management; Chapter 6: Marketing and Business Development. You might also find a lot of other beneficial material in this area of the website.

Kyle Kirkpatrick
Account Supervisor
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

Bruce D. Turner, AIA
Chair, AIA New Jersey Public Awareness Committee

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