3 ways to proactively gain credit in the media

Tips on developing relationships that will enhance promotions

Being proactive is always better than being reactive in a potentially negative situation. When developing relationships with media outlets, the same rule applies. Every public relations professional will advise you to “get in front of the headline,” a common phrase in the profession. In short, it means controlling the narrative by taking the necessary steps to prevent whatever negative situation arises from happening. The following are proactive strategies that architects can execute to prevent being left out of articles about their projects.

Be Social

Architecture primarily falls under two journalistic beats: design and building. However, with shrinking newsrooms writers who cover art, home improvement, urban planning, health, sustainability, and real estate might also have interest in covering architecture. If you have an existing relationship with a journalist who fails to properly credit an architect, they are more likely to work with you to reach a satisfactory outcome. Often an email complimenting them on a recent article is enough to begin a dialogue; it’s a method we use frequently.

Last year, AIA Baltimore held an event titled “Meet the Press.” The chapter invited journalists from various publications who covered architecture in some fashion. Everyone from the AEC community was invited, and AIA members could earn one CEU. The panel of journalists provided insights on what makes something newsworthy and how stories are developed, and the event proved beneficial for all involved: The journalists had the opportunity to educate their audience about journalism, and architecture remained top of mind for the reporters.

Be Strategic

Architects work with developers, owners, and subcontractor to get buildings built. Some effort should be made towards building good relationships with building partners. Early in the process, offering to assist the developer with the marketing and publicity of the new building can prove beneficial. The terms can stipulate that all marketing material produced about the project by the architecture firm should include the name of the developer and subcontractors—and vice versa. Maintaining a positive, open line of communication between business partners will always be more advantageous than failing to communicate with them.

Be Visible

During the construction of a building, the contractor, developers, and owner put their logo onto signs placed all around the construction barriers—and it makes sense to include the architecture firm’s logo, as well. The small investment in a sign will pay for itself several times over in recognition. Having an aesthetically pleasing logo also helps. This signage requirement can be included in the General Conditions and become a part of the agreement with the owner and contractor. The General Conditions can stipulate the size, location, quality, color, materials, and whether the contractor or architect provides the sign. If provided by the contractor, common practice is for the architect to provide the contractor with high-resolution images to use in creating site signage.

View a step-by-step guide for interacting with journalists, complete with sample responses and comments

It’s important to be present during the groundbreaking, grand opening, dedication, and any event related to the new building that might include members of the media. Though it may not lead to press coverage, your presence shows a general interest in the community beyond just the building design and will greatly increase the likelihood that you’re not excluded from media coverage. “Don’t shy away,” says Julie D. Taylor, Hon. AIA/LA, 2014–2016 public director, AIA National Board of Directors, and principal of the Taylor & Company public relations and marketing firm. “Get as close to the action as possible.”

If you come across an article that wrongfully excludes the name of an architect, send a link to props@aia.org.

Matt Tinder is senior manager of media relations at the AIA.

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