As a PR professional, I am always pleased when industry, media, and the community come together to recognize professional achievement in any category. I wrote a guest piece recently for this blog about Idaho Business Review’s Accomplished Under 40 and how our Idaho A/E/C community could begin to create a culture of communications and make marketing work for individual professionals, firms and the entire industry.
Again, congratulations to all the winners, and especially our friends from the A/E/C world – I know it took a lot for you to step into the limelight.
But why is it so hard to step into the limelight?
Is it personality? Are most architects and engineers skewed toward being introverted, analytical, and efficient? Are those important characteristics that help them professionally keeping them from embracing marketing?
Working in and around the A/E/C industry for two decades I found that engineers require me, as a marketer, to be both efficient and subtle in my approach. I have found that as a group, A/E/Cs will be the first to laugh with me as we joke about how they shun the spotlight, especially for anything as fluffy as publicity.
Anyone who does this work knows that to be recognized as an expert in your field and a leader in your community – especially one as tight-knit as Idaho’s – you have to be visible. You have to put yourself, and your firm, and your projects out there, which can be really challenging for many A/E/C professionals.
As a PR expert, I have lots of ideas about how A/E/C firms should market, but my real work is in helping those firms – or more specifically, the leaders at those firms – to incorporate marketing communications in such a way that it does not overwhelm or detract from the budget or bottom line.
So, like I have done for so many clients in the past, I will make it super easy: read, write, work.
Yep, that’s it. Every day, just read, write and work.
Firms that incorporate a read, write, work communications approach will see a difference in not only how they feel about marketing, but how it works for their organization.
Yes, you need to read. Ugh! I know, who has time to get past anything but a headline? You do, if you want to be able to speak and present intelligibly about the work you do and the environment in which you compete. You have to read. Read blogs, read newspapers, read industry magazines, read business books, read competitors articles – read every day. Set a calendar appointment and keep it. You can do it first thing in the morning, or mid-day when you need a break or to relax in the evening, but read, you must. Read mostly about your industry, but also read about the economy, and professional development, and technology and leadership. Read interesting things so that you can write interesting things. I am not going to tell you how much or how long, but to do the next part, you have to read.
Yes, you have to write. Ugh! I know, who has time to anything but a proposal or estimate? You do, if you want to be able to speak and present intelligibly about the work you do and the environment in which you compete. You have to write. You can write for your own blog, website or social media, you can write articles or you can write client white papers and case studies. Set a calendar appointment and keep it. You can do it first thing in the morning, or mid-day when you need a break, or to relax in the evening, but write, you must. Write mostly about your industry, but also write about the economy, and professional development, and technology and leadership. Write about the interesting things you read and how they apply to your work, projects or industry. I am not going to tell you how much or how long, but you have to write.
And you have to write in a way that is shareable with your public. You have to create content. This is hard. You probably need a marketing person. But I want to be clear, if you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, or the leader of a firm, this has to happen if you want the power of marketing to work for you. Put in the effort to create a culture of communication at your firm, to promote your staff, your projects and your expertise, as a way to engage current and future clients.
This seems easy. Maybe like I tricked you? Well, yes and no. I do not have to tell you that you have to put in the hours to do the work. You run an A/E/C firm – you know that. But what you have to do is change how you work. Right now, if you are not marketing, all of your work is internal. You know the ins and outs of the project, but no one outside your office knows anything about it. Actually, probably half the people in your office don’t know anything either. You have to work in a way that creates a culture of communication. You have to work publicly and visibly.
It is not easy to do that, especially if your insides are screaming in reaction to my suggestion. But when you create a robust website with updated, compelling content, when you do live posts on Facebook to update the world about your project, when you write an article about the intersection of art and architecture and education you are working in such a way that communicates the value of the work. When you use stories and photos to show your work, not just once for an award, but consistently, you are beginning to reap the benefits of marketing communications.
I have done this for a long time. I have consulted for over 100 companies and I know it is hard. I would love to share ideas with you about how and when and where you can increase and improve your marketing. And I would love to hear your thoughts.
Let’s chat! ~ Jules
Julia Angelen Joy
Z Group PR