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.