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!