Media Webinar: Five Key Steps for BPMs to Boost Media Coverage

If you attended our recent Construct Knowledge Series Webinar "The Changing Face of Media Relations", you know there was an abundance of great advice and insight revealed to us by some of the top editors and publishers in the building and construction industry. And if you're familiar with the CKS, you know we typically record and send DVDs or post video or audio of the event online to share the information with those who could not attend live.
Due to some unexpected PC vs. MAC compatibility issues, we are not able to share video presentation of this latest event with the industry. YouTube will just have to wait until our next Webinar. The good news is, not only do you have the recap from Jody below, we have a transcript of the conversation, an executive summary and now this post!
In going through the transcript to write the executive summary, I realized how many great tips were divulged on communicating with the media in our industry. I have pulled from the transcript, the top five takeaways for our Blog readers out there who either missed the event or for those whose notes were illegible because you were trying so hard to write down every insight. Now, these are not ranked in any particular order of importance - and some may be basic but sound fundamental skills provide the foundation for growth and success.
1) Dive in, yes but look before you leap
This sounds really simple, but before contacting an editor/publisher, do your homework. Understanding the publication and its audience may be pretty basic but is often overlooked. To use an example from one of our panelists, “I had somebody ask me when the Green issue of GreenSource Magazine was.” Knowing which story types and topics are featured and who reads the magazine will help ensure you’re developing the best approach to pitch your story.

2) You can’t be articulate with your foot in your mouth
Know industry basics before attempting to speak about them. As Senior Editor from ED+C, Michelle Hucal lamented, “products cannot (and will never) be LEED certified.” You will discredit yourself and the company you represent by a lack of core industry knowledge such as LEED. I’m not suggesting PR departments hustle out to get the new LEED Green Associate designations but it’s important to have that basis of knowledge so you can intelligently speak the industry language.
(Side note: LEED is never plural unless you’re talking about a city in England – this is a sure way to alienate yourself with a potential specifier!)

3) A picture…A thousand words. A hi-res image with your press release…Priceless.
(To be read in your best Mastercard voice) Always include a photo with your press release. Whether its embedded, attached or linked, publications and their readers want to see quality images of projects. Not just photos of products – they want to see the product in action – in its application. And who did it. Where it was. How much it cost. Include as much information as possible about the project and the teams involved in creating it. Their readers and your company's customers want to know these things, so save a step by including these details upfront.

4) The transition from analog to digital isn’t just about cable TV
The vast majority of editors and publishers prefer email communications just like you. Email is more accessible and is much easier to share with a colleague than a package. When print samples and media kits are necessary, make sure it’s something your recipient hasn’t already seen. Two is not always better than one – editors don’t like duplicates! Finally, when sending flash drives, include a description of what it is.

5) Aint no party like verification from a third-party
Product specifiers can be apprehensive about claims made by BPMs. Ned Cramer, Editor-in-Chief of Architect Magazine cited that in a recent study conducted, "only 5% of architects trust claims made by BPMs." This painfully illustrates how important takeaway #2 is. I wonder how many architects out of the 95% who said they don’t trust manufacturer claims had a company rep tell them “our products are the only LEEDS certified on the market” ?
This is where data from an independent research company (Function: can do this for you) or a seal of approval from one of the many new product certification companies can help. If you stand behind your products, back up your claims with research. It will help improve the credibility of your products and brands. And, if it’s a compelling enough piece of data, you’ll generate interest among the media and they might just cover that story about your new product launch.

If you're interested in learning more about what else was discussed in the Webinar, email me: ted@functionatl.com.

-ted


ted hettick

business development manager
FUNCTION:
we’re into building things

"The Changing Face of Media Relations": The Editors Tell All

If you follow us regularly, you know that Function recently conducted a Webinar on the changing face of media relations. We brought in some of the most well respected and knowledgeable media experts in the AEC community. As Function:’s principal and director of strategy, Dana Castle, asked our panelists – editors from leading industry publications – about social media, Internet versus print, and emerging trends and tips for PR professionals, a lively discussion ensued. We were impressed and enlightened by the things these media experts had to share and we hope you were too. In case you missed the Webinar, here’s a recap on some of the important things we learned:

Stories and Trends for 2010
Editors will push stories that appeal to their particular readership. Currently, these stories include the renovation/retrofit market; net-zero energy; and the fate of individual companies and practices during these hard economic times. Editors are still focusing on the “green” market and they noted that they’ve seen this particular market continue to grow and evolve despite the struggling economy. In fact, some of our panelists believe that green building will soon be mainstream. And, of course, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is still a hot topic.

How Editors Prefer to Receive Stories
This should be of particular interest to PR agencies as well as to the marketing departments of BPMs. Editors unanimously agreed that the best way to contact them is by email. Don’t Blind Copy (BCC) or Carbon Copy (CC) a bunch of people to the same email, they say, and be sure to include as much information as possible – facts and figures, relevant photographs, etc. – so they have everything easily accessible. Follow-up calls after an email are welcomed and appreciated. As far as media kits and paper copies, most editors say not to bother sending them. And if you do send them, never send something that you’ve already sent- they’ll just throw it away. Make sure that the information you are including in a media kit is new and relevant. A few of the editors suggested putting a media kit online and then handing them a card with the link and password. Publishers do depend on info from PR professionals and truly value trusted relationships. However, they say that most readers lack confidence in claims made by Building Product Manufacturers (BPMs), so it is ideal when PR professionals can supply research and statistics from reliable third party sources.

Changes in the Media Based on the Internet
The evolution of the Internet has changed the way publishers reach their audience. Print and Web content are now complimentary tools. Although some editors’ value one over the other, they all agree that print content is shrinking and Web content is growing.

Changes in the Media Based on the Economy
The economy has also contributed to decreasing content in print editions of publications and more content online. Print, as the more expensive medium, is often the first to go. This means there are less places for stories in print publications, but our panelists noted that they are receiving more stories than ever. With less space and more competition, BPMs face a decreased chance of being featured in print (online, however, is growing). And finally, the economy has affected everyone’s ability to attend trade shows. Publishers are opting to go to more local shows and for letting a closer representative attend shows that are farther away.

Changes in the Media Based on Social Media
Social media has also transformed the relationship between publishers and their readers. Publishers now have a direct connection to their audience and direct field contact. Editors use a variety of sites: LinkedIn (for business purposes), Facebook (for “fun” purposes), Twitter and blogs. Some publications have latched onto social media more than others. Those that have experimented with social media say that it has been helpful, but admit they still have much to learn. And they plan on learning more, aware that the presence and use of social media is growing. Some editors are skeptical about the usefulness of social media in this industry and advise BPMs evaluate the usefulness of social media for each of their unique needs.

Extra Advice for BPMs
Editors see trends moving in such a way that BPMs need to start using BIM regularly and hiring consultants who truly understand the technology. These editors also suggested that BPMs join cultural or academic associations to increase their exposure to the public. But, like the advice they gave pertaining to social media, editors suggest BPMs only worry about joining associations that are beneficial to them and relevant to the work that they do.

So there you have it – a look at the changing face of media relations. We are grateful to our media experts for providing information on upcoming trends, and tips for adapting to these changes. To learn more about this Webinar and upcoming Webinars, contact Ted Hettick, ted@functionatl.com or 404-524-3075 ext. 15.

In the Spirit of the Holiday Season


Okay readers; talk to me. When you think of the holidays what do you think of?

Personally, I think of potato latkes, candy canes, the smell of pine, aggressive and overly hostile mall shoppers, and gingerbread houses. I don't really like the taste of gingerbread, but those little houses sure are fun to make (mainly because I am a candy addict and I love to eat the trim - the frosting is good too).

As you know (because you are loyal readers), here at Function: we like all things having to do with architecture. So, in the spirit of the holiday season, I wanted to share my favorite gingerbread house with you: Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

With gingerbread houses everyone can be an architect. Do you have an itch to design a beautiful, edible building? Click here for a recipe and step-by-step instructions from Simply Recipes.com. Candy addiction or not - gingerbread houses are a fun way to be creative during the holiday season.

Have you created a unique gingerbread house that you would like to share? If not in the past, maybe this will be your first year. Email me a picture (joslyn@functionatl.com) and I will post it on the blog.

Happy holidays!

"We've got the whole world in our hands"

For those of you who read this blog regularly (you are out there, right?), you may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote about energy efficiency. With the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held the next two weeks (Dec 7 – 18) in Copenhagen, Denmark, I started thinking some more about what energy efficiency really is and how efficient, sustainable buildings can help contribute to a solution for global climate change.

For years the American mindset was “greed is good” (รก la Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie “Wall Street”). We produced a lot, consumed even more and thought little of the impact our indulgence would have on the planet. Today, our culture is experiencing a tremendous shift toward conservation – fiscally and environmentally. Wastefulness is criticized; recycling is the norm; and organic, local food is praised and preferred.

As new generations – those that grew up recycling and took college courses like “Environmental Literature” – enter the workforce and begin to spend their paychecks, it becomes very important that businesses in all industries have a deep understanding of how to efficiently conserve the environment. Because it is those businesses that will gain the respect of a new generation and will ultimately thrive in the future marketplace.

So What Exactly is Energy Efficiency?
It’s not a new concept, but it seems that energy efficiency is the term of the day (or year). According to the World Energy Council (WEC) definition, the idea is two-fold: Energy efficiency can be reached through creating products that don’t use up as much energy, and it can also be reached by making wise management decisions.

Energy Efficiency in the Building Industry
U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "Climate change is a clear and present danger to our world that demands immediate attention. The United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time, both at home and abroad."

Well, as we have mentioned, the built environment has a profound impact on climate change and for this reason, the building industry has become a leader in trends toward sustainability. And building product manufacturers (BPMs) are doing all they can to help. Through product development, energy modeling programs, awareness campaigns and tools for architects, employees and individuals, BPMs are working to lead the charge, so to speak.

A survey conducted by Building Design + Construction magazine found that more than four out of five AEC professionals answered that they would be “somewhat” or “significantly” more involved in green building within two to three years. Less than one in ten of these respondents believe that green building is simply a passing fad.

Because of these trends toward environmentalism and sustainability, now is a perfect time for manufacturers to capitalize on rising interest in energy efficiency. And as a new generation of architects, contractors, builders and designers emerges, manufacturers who focus on energy efficiency will see their supporters increase.

What difference will a focus on energy efficiency make?

A big difference, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA has predicted that a focus on energy efficient buildings, industrial processes and transportation has the potential to reduce the world's projected energy needs by one third in the year 2050.

Trends toward sustainability are here to stay. Governments around the world are talking about what we can do to stop the threat of climate change. The building and construction industry is making great strides. But they can’t always do it alone. We’ve got the whole world in our hands – now it’s a matter of what we do with it.









Function: Interns

Whenever I tell people I live in Atlanta, I always get the same question: Is the traffic really as bad as people say? My answer: yes, it is. (Terrible!)

And when I tell people I work at a PR and marketing agency, they often ask: Is an agency really as busy as people say? My answer: yes, it is. (Busy and exciting!)

You see, PR and marketing is one of those industries where you can always do more. You can always advertise more, email more, write more, call more, brainstorm more, come up with more more more ideas. At Function: we aim for growth in both quality and content- which makes for a busy work day! For this reason, I am very excited about the beginning of our first internship program. More people to do more things- what excellent news!

At Function: we feel strongly that an internship program should work to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the interns and the host company. Interns should gain valuable “real-world” experience, should be constantly exposed to new work, and should have the opportunity to be a functioning member of a company. And the host company should gain something too. That’s why we have taken great care in selecting highly qualified interns who exhibit a strong work ethic and are eager to contribute, who are both willing to work on the smallest tasks and can be trusted with large projects.

Our internship program includes a detailed orientation program and training period, provides a diverse range of experiences as well as relationships with a mentor, performance evaluations, and personal goal-shaping meetings. And we also provide our interns with a diverse list of guest speakers who can impart additional knowledge and experience.

You can look forward to hearing more about the internship program from the interns themselves. Stay tuned for a blog post or two from our exceptional interns in the months to come. We’re excited for you to meet them- and we’re pretty sure you’ll be as impressed with them as we are!

What Media Wants: The Eternal Question

For some people the eternal question is "what is the meaning of life?" For PR professionals, the eternal question is "what do media want?"

Let's face it. The relationship between media professionals and PR professionals is often rocky. We (PR) need media to be interested in what our clients have to say and to write about it. And while media needs information, they also need PR reps to give it to them in an effective, and let's say, non-stupid manner. The blog Dear PR Flack is dedicated to stories of bad pitches that wasted media's time. It's hilarious and educational (lesson learned: don't do what those PR professionals did when you pitch).

So, back to the eternal question. What is it that media wants? And how can you, as a PR professional, deliver it? As the media landscape evolves, press is gathering and distributing information in new ways. On December 10 at 2:00 pm ET Function: is hosting a webinar about the Changing Face of Media. The webinar will help you understand the changes to the media and publishing industry; learn how to reach media through new outlets; discover what stories media will be talking about in the coming year; and most importantly, take a look at what media wants when it comes to how they want to receive news and what news they want to receive.

The webinar is featuring editors from some of the leading publications in the architecture, engineering and construction industry.

And although I work for Function:, I can not wait to hear what these editors have to say. These are people that I reach out to constantly. Knowing how to be more effective when I communicate with them is important. Knowing what the industry is talking about is important. Getting the answer to the eternal question is critical. You too can find enlightenment: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/119660307

In Defense of Design

In today’s corporate world, the word "design" is often considered a bad word. Design is commonly perceived as pretty pictures or a good logo and considered a frivolous commodity during these difficult economic times. But design is powerful. It is the packaging of our collaborative efforts of various mediums that encompass strategy, content and messaging. It is the power to take messaging and create an emotional pull or connection – to instigate a thought in a certain direction or toward a particular product. Bottom line, design has the power to influence and increase sales.

As creative director and managing partner, I tend to be defensive of the word design. I view my role, and those of the design team, as much broader than making things look good. If I was content making things pretty, I probably wouldn't have gone the route of building products, with glamorous products such as insulation and gypsum board. We are not only artists, but inventors, environmentalists, changers, thinkers and yes, strategists. We must wear all of those hats to effectively grab attention. Our job is to be proficient and aware of how our audience is getting their information, and to capitalize on those mediums of communication.

One of our biggest objectives here is to help Building Product Manufacturers (BPMs) define and articulate their sustainable messaging. As designers, we have the power to shape change. Our ads, sales tools and digital media can influence an architect to choose a sustainable product that maximizes a building’s life cycle – a product that is recyclable and will have a positive impact on the future. We have the opportunity to mold decisions within the building industry; an industry that has a huge effect on the environment. That is powerful stuff.

At Function:, we harness the power of design to increase effectiveness in public relations, marketing and online initiatives. I love the challenge of creating integrated campaigns that bring these all together. The change in today’s mediums has allowed our voice and reach to go further, to be animated, live, constant and viral. Print is not dead; rather it is part of an integrated campaign. We are no longer limited to the printed ad – it can become interactive online. Sales training is no longer just a boring binder – it can be a communal webinar.

The exciting thing about the change in the design industry is the increased possibilities. We have the opportunity to expand and grow, transform the mediums and platforms we have traditionally used. However, no matter the medium, design continues to be the packaged message.

Design. It's not a bad word. Rather, an incredibly powerful one.

E is for Energy

As the mother of a six-month-old I spend a lot of time reading books that are designed to help my son learn the alphabet, numbers and colors. So there is a great deal of "A is for Apple" and "E is for Elephant" going on in my home.

However, as the director of public relations for a company that works with building product manufacturers, my "alphabet" means something different. "A" is for "Architects" and "E" is for "Energy".

Energy is top of mind for all of our clients. Research shows that "the built environment has a profound impact on our natural environment, economy, health and productivity."

According to the USGBC , in the United States alone, buildings account for:
• 72% of electricity consumption,
• 39% of energy use,
• 38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,
• 40% of raw materials use,
• 30% of waste output (136 million tons annually), and
• 14% of potable water consumption.


With this in mind, sustainable building and design is a key priority and energy efficiency is a significant player in accomplishing those goals. Our clients' audiences - architects, builders, contractors, facility managers and others in the industry - are looking for products that will help make buildings more energy efficient and, together with our clients, it is my job to create news that will educate their audience on energy efficient building products and strategies. This involves taking a close look at how buildings lose energy, how they can best conserve it, and ultimately how our clients' products can contribute to this conservation - all while helping create a beautiful, functional building.

In addition to needing to understand energy efficient building strategies so that I can help clients talk about it, I also need to help them identify the best outlets for their news and articles. How can they effectively reach their audiences? Is it through print media? Blogs? Facebook or Twitter?

And while "E" is for "Energy", "E" is also for "Education". At Function: we work to not only help our clients educate their audiences on topics of interest and importance, but we work to educate our clients on their audiences and how to reach them, as well as industry trends that we understand to be emerging or growing.

So, at home, I am Joslyn the Mom. Expert of the Alphabet Song and patty-cake. At work, I strive to be Joslyn the PR Professional. Expert for clients on energy, education and emerging trends. Now that you know what letters of the alphabet are important to me, let me know what letters and topics are important to you.




Gearing up for Greenbuild

This is the week we have all been waiting for- heading out to Phoenix for Greenbuild. For me- Greenbuild gives me a good pulse on what to expect for 2010. I always look for trends in messaging, technology and just the overall mindset of the attendees and exhibitors. Although I have screamed about having to wait in long lines at previous Greenbuilds I always meet great people. One year when the lines seemed to last for hours- I took a poll of all the architects around me about BIM and we had a lively discussion on likes and dislikes.

There is usually never a wasted moment. Everyone at Greenbuild seems to share the same goal of trying to do what is right for our environment. This usually makes for great conversations and idea sharing. The expo is always a great place to see thought in action- new technologies unfolding as well as great innovative new products that meet a sustainable need.... And Phoenix is not such a bad place to have to go this time of year!

Function: (Through Eight-Week-Old Eyes)

Today begins my eighth week at Function:. Eight weeks have flown by. But I think it's safe to say that after two months at a company you’ve formed some legitimate opinions that go beyond first impressions.

So I'm taking this opportunity, in my first-ever Function: blog post, to show you Function: through my eight-week-old eyes.

First of all, before I say anything else, I have to say that as a “people-focused” PR professional, my work environment really matters to me. It’s a big deal. So of course when I found out that Function: does Yoga on Thursdays, brings their dogs to work on Fridays and is located in an old renovated candle factory, my interest was piqued. As Dana Castle, principal + director of strategy and Function: co-founder, said to me in an email before I started working here: “Sometimes it’s the little things….” So true, Dana, so true!

When you walk into Function:, you enter a world of exposed brick walls, unique light fixtures, design projects displayed along the walls, funky chairs and modern art (stay tuned for some pictures of our space in future blog posts). As you walk down cement floors and peek into the meeting rooms with long, rough wood tables and rolls of drawing paper, you can't help but remember that you're in a the facility of a company who reaches out to the architecture and design community. Clean, structured and fascinatingly detailed, this space is fantastic. You really should stop by for a visit.

And the people – they’re great too. While lined up on our Yoga mats doing “downward dog” and “sun salutations,” flipping upside down into headstands, and attempting to put our feet behind our heads, through our elbows and under our backs (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little), I have discovered that I am undisputedly, and by far, the most awkward, uncoordinated Yoga member. But I’ve also discovered that that doesn’t matter and that encouragement (and laughter!) is plentiful during Function: Yoga sessions. I’m new here – at work and at Yoga – but I’ve come to see the Yoga-environment as an indicator of the kind-hearted, fun-loving and delightfully unique individuals that make up the Function: team.

On a more serious and “professional” note, I’ve found this place to be unbelievably focused and driven when it comes to work. Creative conversations. Purposeful discussions. Staying on top of the trends. Communicating what we know. Reaching our audience. Cultivating Relationships. Learning. Doing. Sharing. BIM. Energy Efficiency. Building Envelopes. Air Infiltration. USGBC. LEED. EnergyStar. Bricks, Building Envelopes, Roof Systems, Wall Panels. The list goes on. I have found Function: to be a team of knowledgeable and passionate experts – a team that I’m excited to be a part of.

So, if you can’t tell, after eight weeks I have found Function: to be the perfect mix of work and play. I’ve learned more here in the first eight weeks than I ever would have imagined and I’ve found a team of willing teachers with ready ideas and open minds.

Oh, and on a slightly different note, I’ve also found that our candy bowl is eternally overflowing. That “perk,” I must say, has become the bane of my existence…I have the kind of sweet tooth that craves candy for breakfast.

PRESS RELEASE: Function: Wins AIGA SEED Award for Print, Integrated Brand Design




Function:, an integrated marketing agency that specializes in reaching the building, architecture and design community, announced today that it recently received a Southeastern Excellence in Design (SEED) award in the category of Print, Integrated Brand Design for its work on its new corporate identity. Hosted by AIGA Atlanta, the 2009 SEED Awards recognized a wide range of design work from across the Southeast.

To further demonstrate its in-depth knowledge of the building products industry and identify itself as a specialized agency, Function: launched a new corporate identity in late 2008. As a part of the new identity, the company rebranded its firm materials. Elements included company letterhead, business cards, pitch books and website. A new tagline – “We’re into building things” – was paired with product swatches to convey that Function: helps its clients build sales, brands and marketshare through marketing, design and public relations. This statement is reflective of the company’s unique focus and dedication to the building industry. In developing the new brand and materials, a bold color palette of yellow, brown, gray and white were utilized – colors often associated with the building and construction industry. In addition, changes were made to the company’s trademark colon making it a more prominent and identifable brand icon.

The SEED awards are widely considered one of the Southeast’s premiere design competitions to recognize top creative work in the region. The competition featured submissions from the following Southeastern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. To celebrate the winners, AIGA Atlanta hosted the 2009 SEEDAwards Gala, which was held on July 17.

“Being recognized by AIGA with a SEED Award for our corporate brand work is exciting for all of is at Function:. As we further immersed ourselves into the building industry it became essential that our brand reflect our specialization. Aside from providing a visual representation of our industry knowledge, our corporate identity materials reflect the creativity and capabilities of our design team. We are honored to have our work acknowledged,” said Michele Emmons DeHaven, principal and creative director for Function:. 

Media contact: Joslyn Fagan

Get to Know BIM

Building Information Modeling (BIM) continues to be a fast moving initiative in the commercial industry, as well as an innovative approach to integrating the design, construction and management of a project. Function: has found that BIM is still very new to many building product manufacturers (BPMs). As the use of BIM continues to increase among architects, engineers and contractors, it is essential that BPMs recognize how this technology can be used to not only benefit them, but their target audiences as well.

That's why we are hosting a BIM Webinar. On Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 2:00 P.M. EDT, we will be hosting a complimentary webinar titled “BIM: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies for the BPM”. The webinar will feature industry experts from Architect magazine, BDR Partners, General Services Administration (GSA), Houser Walker Architecture, RCMS Group and Tekla to discuss the impact that BIM has on the building product manufacturer, as well as effective strategies for incorporating BIM.

Throughout the webinar session, panelists will share their opinions on the value of BIM, opportunities and challenges for BPM’s, how to develop a BIM strategy and best integrate BIM into sales and marketing, how BIM contributes to green building and more.

To register for the webinar please visit https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/635825031.

Hope to see you there!

LinkedIn group shares wealth of industry knowledge

As the leader for marketing strategy on emerging trends in the building and construction industry, Function: has created a group on LinkedIn to help share the latest findings, information and developments impacting product specification and communications:

"Marketing Professionals in the Building and Construction Industry"

http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1842463










ted hettick

business development manager
FUNCTION:
we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Five Things not to do When Contacting Product Specifiers

Unless you have been fortunate enough to live on a deserted tropical island, you are aware of the state of the economy and its effects on the building and construction industry. In today’s market, competition is fierce and people and businesses are using whatever means necessary to win. But we know that, “knowledge is the best weapon” and as the market evolves, it is critical manufacturers not only know, but also understand, the latest industry trends, and more importantly, their target audiences to remain competitive.

Function: recently conducted a survey of specifier behavior, targeting the A&D community, in order to provide building product manufacturers with insight into how products are being sourced. In addition to the survey, we conducted phone and insider interviews with architects and designers throughout the country, asking questions to help further identify sales entry points. One question that was posed to specifiers was: What are the most common mistake sales reps make when calling on you?

It may seem like “Sales 101” to you, but with the economy causing purse strings to tighten across all industries, mistakes, even small ones, can result in losing the business of current and prospective customers. Based on responses from Function:’s research and survey, here are the top five things not to do when contacting product specifiers:

1. Do not waste time: The survey revealed the most common mistake sales reps make when calling on product specifiers was timeliness – not being able to provide answers when they are needed. In business today, time is of the essence. As the number of building, design and construction jobs are shrinking; competition is increasing. Workloads are also increasing, meaning architects and designers have less time to spend researching products and working on specifications. One designer said that they would value the simplicity of dealing with one comprehensive source for all product needs (in a specific category) “if they know their product well so I don’t have to waste my time calling 15 people to get answers.”

Providing detailed product information upfront makes a specifier’s job much easier and will increase the chances to get a meeting that results in a sale. If questions arise during a meeting or presentation and you cannot answer them immediately, let them know you will need to check and provide detailed answers within 24 hours.

2. Do not call without knowing the firm’s focus/specialty: As a child it seemed that one of the most spoken phrases was “do your homework”. Though it may not have seemed to be a priority during school, in business – especially marketing and sales – doing your homework is critical. The survey sample group revealed that not knowing the firm’s focus or specialty was the second most common mistake reps make. Research a firm before calling to set up an appointment. Understand the firm’s focus, specialty and be able to mention their current or recent projects. While on the call, ask the architect/designer what their biggest challenges have been on recent jobs and how they define success.

Once a meeting is set, incorporate the information that the architect/designer provided into your pitch and presentation. Product specifiers want to know that manufacturers are knowledgeable not only about their own products, but about the needs of the firm and the projects that the firm has designed.

3. Do not provide irrelevant product information: When you schedule an appointment with product specifiers, provide information that is relevant to the meeting. Understanding the firm’s business and how your product fits into what they do will provide the flexibility to tailor the sales pitch based on their needs. The more personal, customized approach, the better. For example, if an architect is interested in learning more about your company’s products as they relate to LEED, discuss the products that can help achieve LEED certification and why. Do not discuss unrelated products or services. The more specific information and data a manufacturer can provide, the better chance they have of getting their products sourced.

The principal designer at a small residential firm said, “The biggest mistake manufacturer reps make when they visit is trying to show products that we would never use or wouldn't need for our project type.”

4. Do not regurgitate information from marketing materials when answering questions: Often sales representatives only know a minimal amount about the product they are selling and that information is derived from marketing materials. Architects and designers have stated that while they are gathering information they will ask difficult questions to ensure that they are selecting the best product for their project. They look beyond the data on sales collateral and ask manufacturers how they came up with numbers, the circumstances involved in studies, the factors involved in product testing and what makes a specific product “high-performance”.

One respondent said, “If I can get what I need ¬– LEED information for submission, product specs – and if a sales rep knows what they are talking about, it’s key. A lot of companies don’t realize that education and sustainability is more than just giving people a couple of speaking points and a lot of reps are at a disadvantage with information. I don’t expect people to understand every intricacy, but I want them to understand the basics and be able to talk pre/post consumer content, where [a product] is manufactured, extracted…etc.”

Reps need to be able to discus their products in detail and know how the product could save money, work within a design, achieve sustainable goals or be incorporated into various technologies.

5. Do not leave out pricing information: Unfortunately, the best things in life are not always free. Budgets often control the building process and are a significant component of the specification process. An interior design director for an architecture firm recently said that when deciding what product to specify he “start[s] with the budget and work[s] from there. Budget helps narrow down options. Figure out what the image should be, consult the library and then once I’ve got a firm idea of what I’m looking for, rely heavily on the manufacturer’s reps.”

Manufacturers like to believe that their own products are the best fit for a project; however, for architects and designers making the decision whether or not to specify a product can often come down to the price. For firms working on a limited budget, cost is often the first consideration. Unless the rep is offering a unique product that is not available anywhere else, specifiers do not have time to wait for a price quote – they will find a comparable product and move on. Sales reps must be able to provide accurate and timely pricing and any other requested information to specifiers. During a meeting if there is a request for specific pricing information that is not readily available, give the specifier guidelines so that they can best determine how the product and price work within their budget.

Another designer from the study said, “It's great to have the price available so you can come to a decision without having to dig for the cost.”

To truly beat the competition manufacturers need to make specifiers feel important. Be willing to go the extra mile when it comes to training your sales force. Though it may seem like a race, make sure sales representatives take the time to learn about the company’s products, the latest industry trends and technologies and most importantly, the firms they are speaking with and the needs of the specifiers. In the end, showing specifiers that you really understand their needs, and not wasting their time by not understanding your products and tools will help you emerge a winner.

PRESS RELEASE: Function:’s Construct Knowledge Series Session Reveals Architects are Moving Toward an Integrated Design Approach to Green Building


Leaders in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry Gather to Discuss the Latest Trends Impacting the Building and Construction Industry ATLANTA, February 11, 2009 – Function:, an integrated marketing agency that specializes in reaching the building, architecture and design community, hosted its quarterly Construct Knowledge Series session and found that architects and industry experts think green building is moving beyond individual products and into an integrated design approach with the objective of achieving very clear environmental goals. The roundtable featured a diverse group of professionals with backgrounds in architecture, design, engineering and contracting. Discussion topics ranged from sustainable building practices, industry trends and challenges, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and useful technologies, to the Architecture 2030 challenge and more.

“As the market continues to evolve, we have found it is critical that our clients understand the latest industry trends, and more importantly their target audiences, to remain competitive,” said Dana Castle, principal and managing partner of Function:. “The Construct Knowledge Series allows us to gather information from industry leaders and experts that can help our clients in not only better reaching their target audiences, but in developing strategic programs to increase their brand recognition.”

Architects, designers, engineers and contractors are major influencers in the building and construction industry. The Construct Knowledge Series is a unique opportunity to gain direct feedback from these key influencer segments and gain a deeper understanding of the issues of importance to these industry experts. Panelists for the 4Q Construct Knowledge Series session included: Dennis Creech, Southface; Brad Higdon, BDR Partners; Jason McFadden, Barton Malow; KP Reddy,RCMS; and Susie Spivey-Tilson, TVS.

Highlights from the session include:
Sustainable Practices: Although there has been an increase in green building, (more than 10 percent of new commercial buildings in the United States are registered to become LEED certified according to Creech), panelists think there is still a long way to go to fully meet the potential that green building has to offer. Panelists agreed that the first step in getting green building where it needs to be is education. While many building owners have begun to identify that a project needs to be sustainable or achieve a certain level of LEED certification, they do not fully understand what that means to the design and construction teams and ultimately the operations group for the facility.

Industry Trends and Challenges: Although the economy continues to decline, panelists think that green will positively affect the economy. During the recent presidential election, both candidates discussed the important role that energy efficiency can play in reinvigorating the economy. Very often architects and designers find it challenging to sell green to clients and to get them to consider costeffective energy upgrades.

BIM and Useful Technologies: Building Information Modeling’s (BIM) biggest impact will not be its 3-D modeling, but its data analysis capability and the ability to monitor a building’s performance data to analyze the projected model’s energy performance versus actual performance and make adjustments in design based on these findings. For manufacturers, BIM presents an opportunity to become involved in the design process. Products are moving from the catalog or database into the model, which could lead to an increased customization of products based on the application. Panelists think that BIM is a template for integrated design. According to panelist, KP Reddy, “BIMis going to change the design community’s view of the deliverable. Rather than the deliverable being a set of drawings and specs, the deliverable becomes the building. Once you get everybody focused the end game being the building, it makes a difference.”

Product Specification: Specifiers receive product information through numerous outlets – lunch and learns, marketing brochures, direct mail, sales calls, and more. Panelists agreed that when it comes to sourcing products it is essential that a building product manufacturer be able to answer technical questions about their product and provide clear, concise information. Specifiers want to know that manufacturers are knowledgeable about their product and not reading off a brochure. The more specific information and data a manufacturer can provide, the better chance they have of getting their products
sourced. In addition, third party validation is becoming increasingly important.

Architecture 2030: There have been an increasing number of groups adopting the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2030 challenge. However, many questions remain as to how to best get from the building designs of today to the opportunities of tomorrow. Panelists agreed that meeting the 2030 challenge is achievable, but it is essential that building owners and decision makers are committed. In addition, panelists think that addressing the issue of climate change is another key element to achieving the challenge. According to Creech, buildings in the U.S. contribute approximately 48% of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change. The building industry influences nearly half of the greenhouse gases that the U.S. produces. By addressing energy use in buildings, the 2030 challenge is attainable.

“Green is selling and we are witnessing an unbelievable transformation across the design and construction industry,” said Dennis Creech, executive director of the Southface Energy Institute. “As the industry matures, and green continues to drive product development, we find that we are getting away from a green building being an assembly of green products. It’s really an integrated design approach. The goal is not, ‘how do I put 13 green products in this building?’ but ‘how do I get a high-performance, energy-efficient building, that’s durable, budget-friendly and will be flexible over time?’ I think that is the challenge we have as an industry - moving beyond individual products into this integrated design approach.” To find out more about the topics discussed during Function:’s Construct Knowledge Series session please visit www.functionatl.com.

Media contact: Joslyn Fagan

PRESS RELEASE: Function: To Join RCMS Group on Building Information Modeling (BIM) Webinar

Specialized Marketing Agency and Other AEC Industry Leaders Gather to Discuss The Effects of BIM on the Industry

ATLANTA, January 12, 2009 – Function:, an integrated marketing agency that specializes in reaching the building, architecture and design community, will be joining RCMS Group, the industry leader in Building Information Modeling (BIM) services to the design and construction marketplace, for a complimentary BIM Roundtable webinar on January 15, 2009 at 1:00PM EST. Industry experts fromHOK, HNTB, Gilbane Building Company, GSA, Dalpos Architectural Integrators and Freese Construction Company will also be joining to discuss the value of BIM, as well as the challenges and benefits firms are experiencing on projects that have used BIM.

The use of BIM has continued to increase across the industry and is being used not only by architects, but contractors and building product manufacturers. Function: works with various building product manufacturers, designers and builders to help them better understand the uses of BIM in their specific fields. Throughout the webinar session, panelists will share their opinions on the value of BIM, as well as the challenges adopters may face and the benefits of implementation.

“Function: has specialized in the building industry for years and we are dedicated to providing clients with a thorough knowledge of the industry to help them build brands and increase sales,” said Dana Castle, Function:’s principal and director of strategy. “Whether implementing BIM for a design project, using its data to assess building performance or creating product models to ease specification, we have found that there is still much uncertainty across the industry as to how to best apply BIM. Participating in RCMS’ webinar allows us to provide clients with additional opportunities to hear from leaders in the AEC industry on topics of importance, such as BIM, so they can continue to develop strategic programs and remain competitive.”

For more information, or to register, visit www.functionatl.com or www.rcmsgroup.com.

Media contact: Joslyn Fagan