Tag Archives: pr

William J. Martin, AIA on Pittsburgh’s NPR Radio

When the co-chair of the AIA NJ Public Awareness committee is a guest on NPR radio, we don’t hit the snooze bar.

Take a listen as William J Martin, AIA, shares the real history of the stray toilet in your grandma’s basement.

Zellers-Lawrenceville

PHOTO COURTESY OF TED ZELLERS

http://wesa.fm/post/architect-offers-explanation-pittsburgh-s-basement-toilets-and-it-s-not-what-you-think#stream/0

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA – Personal Engagement

AIA-NJOur previous installments of “Working with the Media” have discussed ways in which you, in a personal or professional context, can begin to build a bridge with the editorial staff of your local publications. This included some strategies as to how to introduce yourself (and your expertise) to the outlet, along with a brief guide for writing an effective letter to the editor and a primer on packaging newsworthy projects into a formal press release to send to journalists.

In all of these installments, we were mainly addressing “proactive” media outreach, which is to say, outreach initiated by an architect specifically designed to garner publicity.

However, in certain cases, you may be spurred to engage with a journalist because of comments or omissions that he has previously made. While we touched on “letters to the editor” – letters written to be published in the paper – in a previous piece, we’d also like to discuss a somewhat different concept: Engaging specifically with the journalist by writing a personal note directly to him or her (as opposed to “letters to the editor,” which are targeted at the broader public).

It’s a scenario that you’ve likely encountered many times: The local paper runs a feature article about a building and includes comments from the developer – but there is no reference to the fact that there was an architect on the project that conceptualized the design and drew the blueprints. While this frustrating scenario is all too common, if approached properly, it can be an opportunity to educate the reporter so that the same mistake isn’t repeated in the future.

Before we discuss how to approach the journalist, it’s important to recognize several likely facts about the omission:

Reporter specialty – In many cases, the reporter is not particularly familiar with architecture – or even real estate development. The editorial staffs are shrinking at most newspapers, and reporters are frequently tasked with covering several beats. In some cases, the offending article may be the only one the reporter writes relating to architecture or real estate over a period of several weeks or months.
Communicated information – Many real estate developers provide reporters with press releases, which include much of the basic information about their projects. Frequently, reporters write stories based nearly entirely upon the press release – including mention of the architect if she is mentioned in the press release, but omitting it otherwise.

What both of these facts mean is that the reporter was probably not omitting the architect’s identity deliberately; chances are that he or she simply doesn’t understand the architect’s importance. With this in mind, the best practices for this sort of letter are clear:

Choose judiciously – While every building has an architect, that doesn’t mean that every article written about a structure without reference to its architect should turn into a letter. Instead of flooding the inbox of a reporter after every offending article, only send a note when the omission is flagrant, e.g. if the building’s architecture is particularly noteworthy, or if the article focused significantly on the building’s design.
Keep it educational – The article is already published, so the goal is to explain to the reporter why the architect is an integral part of the building process, so architects are included in future articles. Because most journalists have limited knowledge of architecture, be as detailed as possible, including not just the legal requirement of having an architect but the specific value and creativity that the architect brought to that particular building, what is architecturally unique and/or how it promotes safety.
Offer to have a follow-up call – In addition to the obvious benefits of having a broader discussion on local architecture if the reporter accepts the offer, the offer itself drills home the point that you’re not looking to criticize the reporter because of an error they made; rather, you’re looking to provide them with your expertise to enable them to write more knowledgeably in the future.

Note that there are also several ways you can proactively go about making sure that you are given credit when your projects are covered in the media:

Create a requirement in your contract: Including a requirement that all project publicity will mention your firm is one way to guarantee that your participation is acknowledged in the developer’s press materials.
Provide a description of the project to your client: Giving your client an architectural perspective on the project will not only help them in their media outreach, but it will also ensure a proper description of the architectural elements of a project. In doing so, it is natural to include a mention of your firm in the description.
Draft your own press release: Now that you know how to compose your own press release from a previous installment of “working with the media”, you may be able to “take the lead” on announcing the project, which means that you can control what specific details are being shared with the reporters. If the developer is looking to do media outreach, they may be open to collaborating with you on the press release, which would also mean that you will have at least some control of what details are being sent to journalists.

For more suggestions, refer to AIA Best Practices – Getting Good Press on the web at http://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. You can also find samples of other quick responses here.

If you would like to read the previous articles in this series, please see the following links:

Delivering Your Message In An Interview

Building Relationships

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Composing a Press Release

Press Release Boilerplates

Shlomo Morgulis
Account Executive
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

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

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA – Composing a Press Release

AIA-NJIn our 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 third in a series of articles that will help you in that regard. With your help, we hope to be able to leverage our strength in numbers to help promote architects and architecture.

Our previous installments of Working with the Media discussed ways in which you, in a personal or professional context, can begin to build a bridge with the editorial staff of your local or regional publications. This included some strategies as to how to introduce yourself (and your expertise) to the outlet, along with a brief guide for writing an effective letter to the editor. These techniques are useful in positioning yourself as an architectural expert and a go-to source for future pieces related to development, construction, and design.

But, announcing news of your own requires a more deliberate structure of information. This is where a written announcement, usually referred to as a press release, comes in handy.

The logic behind a press release is that it provides detailed, accurate, and controlled dissemination of information. A well-composed press release lists each of the necessary factual elements of an announcement, leaving little room for speculation or supposition – the who, what, when, where and why. In today’s ultra-fast-paced digital news world, it’s an especially handy tool for providing a journalist with the nearly all of the information they’d need for a story – all in one neat package.

Ultimately, you’ll have to employ what you know about the interests of a particular media outlet to judge whether your announcement might be “newsworthy.” But, most press release announcements for architects fall into a few categories:

• Major contracts
• Awards
• Notable or innovative large-scale designs
• Anniversaries or other milestones
• Hiring, promotions, etc

Once you’ve decided to proceed with the press release, there are several rules of thumb that ensure that it’s well organized and digestible for a reporter:

Length: A press release is designed for efficiency; your release should rarely exceed 500 words, and a simple one-pager is usually preferable.
Messaging: The “inverted pyramid” model applies in press releases, which is to say that the most important points should appear first, while minutiae and contextual details should be included in the latter portions. For project-based announcements, latter paragraphs should reference building-specific information including size, cost, start date, finish date, function (program), owner, architect, contractor, funding source, project personnel, etc.
Structure: Each release should contain a headline, date, location, contact information, and boilerplate information about your company. Examples of suggested formats can be found here.
Voice: Press releases are written essentially as if they are news stories. Press releases should be based entirely on fact, written completely in the third person. In a previous entry in Working with the Media, we mentioned that press releases may, in some instances, be published as-is. A good litmus test is to read your press release and ask yourself if it could stand on its own as a news story.
Include a quote: Typically, press releases will include a quote from the issuer somewhere after the lead paragraph. This is your opportunity to provide more subjective insight and interpretation.

In future installments, we’ll be going more in-depth into how to finesse the language within your press releases and how to properly tailor your announcement to a variety of press outlets.

For more suggestions, refer to AIA Best Practices – Getting Good Press on the web at http://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.

If you would like to read the previous articles in this series, please see the following links:

Building Relationships

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Kyle Kirkpatrick
Account Supervisor
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

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

Working With The Media – Writing a Letter to the Editor

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 second in a series of articles that will help you in that regard. With your help, we hope to be able to leverage our strength in numbers to help promote architects and architecture.

In the inaugural installment of our Working with the Media series, we discussed the process of familiarizing yourself with your local media landscape, including reporters and editors from various mainstream and trade outlets, and local community papers. We discussed a process called source filing, in which you, as an architect, establish yourself as a professional resource for future building and design-related stories that a journalist may be writing.

This is a necessary first step to making a splash in your local publication, but as a standalone measure, it leaves you in a passive position. Source filing vastly increases your chances of being contacted by a reporter when they need a source, but what if you want to proactively offer your expertise to the media?

Without pitching a story to a local reporter, it’s still possible to get published through a simple letter to the editor. A letter should be short – ideally less than 300 words – addressed to a newspaper or website’s editorial staff regarding a specific story or pertinent trend. Once you’ve identified the correct email or mailing address for the editor (usually located on the ‘Opinions’ or ‘Letters’ page), it’s time to get started on your letter.

As you’re writing your letter, keep in mind a few key points:

  • Keep it (somewhat) formal: Begin your letter with a proper salutation and thoroughly check it for spelling, grammar, and unnecessary shorthand writing. The printed letter is a direct reflection of you as a professional!
  • Send it electronically: While sending a physical letter is a novel idea, you greatly increase your chances of being published if you email the letter. It’s far easier for busy editors to copy/paste a letter than to retype it.
  • Clearly state your position in the opening paragraph: Whether you’re responding to a recent article or commenting on a building or architectural issue, make sure that you don’t bury your main point. In the first paragraph, be sure to plainly state your stance in relation to the story or subject.
  • Don’t (always) have a bone to pick: The tendency for many is to write a letter to the editor only when they are upset or opposed to something that a reporter has written. In fact, letters to the editor can be laudatory of a reporter, fellow architect, development project – anything! In fact, as long as you’re offering a fresh perspective, staying positive is a great way to solidify your relationship with the publication in the early stages of your relationship.

Letters to the editor offer a unique opportunity for architects because they are not controlled by an editorial board or journalistic practices. They’re an opportunity to say something constructive, educational, or unique about architecture while solely owning the message. Best of luck and happy writing!

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.

If you would like to read the previous article in this series, please click here.

If you would like to see a sample Letter to the Editor, please click here.

Kyle Kirkpatrick
Account Supervisor
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

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

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

Meet the Editor of Design NJ magazine

Publicizing your firm and services is important now more than ever.

Do you have a project you want published? Want to reach New Jersey’s top design professionals and thousands of potential clients? Attend AIA-NJ Public Awareness Committee’s Public Relations and Architecture program and earn 1.5 AIA Learning Units while learning how to get coverage in Design NJ, the state’s leading home and design magazine (readership: 102,000+).

Ren Miller, Design NJ editor, will be the guest speaker. Ren leads a talented team of writers and photographers in showcasing the wealth of interior, architectural and landscape design expertise in New Jersey. Their goal is to present interesting stories behind a wide range of styles that are beautiful, functional, comfortable and attainable. Over the course of his 30-year career in publishing, Ren has accumulated experience in editing, writing, design and marketing for newspapers and magazines in start-up and well-established publishing environments. For more information, visit www.designnewjersey.com.
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