Marketing, PR Committee Helps Jump Start Business

Event: Jump-Start Your Marketing Effort
Location: Center for Architecture, 04.28.09
Speakers: Marketing Communications: Richard Staub, FSMPS — President, Richard Staub Marketing Services; Sally Handley, FSMPS — President, Sally Handley Inc.; Business Development: Nancy Kleppel — Co-chair, AIANY Marketing & Public Relations Committee, Principal, Nancy Kleppel Consulting; Maxine Rhea Leighton, Assoc. AIA — Principal, Business Development/Director of Marketing, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects; Public Relations: David Grant — President, LVM Group; Joann Gonchar, AIA, LEED AP — Senior Editor, Architectural Record & GreenSource; Interviews/Presentations: Chris Strom, AIA — Director of Project Development, Mission Critical, Skanska USA Building, Inc.; Kathy Kleiver — Director of Business Development, H3Hardy Collaborative Architecture; At Large: Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP — Chief Marketing Officer, JCJ Architecture; Gretchen Bank, Assoc. AIA — Co-chair, AIANY Marketing & Public Relations Committee, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Selldorf Architects
Organizers: AIANY Marketing & Public Relations Committee
Sponsors: Skanska USA Building, Inc.; Stuart-Lynn Company

The take-away: “Advertising is what you pay for and PR is something you pray for.” David Grant, president of LVM Group, didn’t invent that line, but he imparted those words of wisdom at the first program of the AIANY’s reconstituted Marketing and PR Committee. Inspired by the work of the Not Business as Usual initiative and recognizing the issues of marketing and public relations were not being adequately addressed by other committees, the committee presented a workshop geared to provide firms of all sizes a comprehensive introduction to going about their marketing and PR efforts.

The opening session focused on marketing communications, business development, public relations, presentations, and the interview process. After a brief overview, the entire group was divided into four smaller sections, grouped by common experience or firm size. Each team of two speakers delivered their presentations separately to each group.

A post-program survey showed that attendees found the business development session most valuable, with a number of action items suggested. Active listening: put down all devices; don’t try to answer before you hear; be prepared to paraphrase what you have heard. Enhancing your relationships: pick one client or prospect to get to know better; do something social. Networking: go to an event; go out with a colleague or peer. Gathering information: add a new publication or media outlet to your regular list; read a broad-based selection of information for at least one hour per week. “Go/no go”: review or create your own questionnaire.

“Our objective,” said committee co-chair Nancy Kleppel, “was to present useful information to firm principals and technical and professional staff, and to enable them to take on some of their own marketing efforts. While we are welcoming to marketing professionals, we hope to have an ongoing dialogue with architects, offering them the tools and information they need to succeed. Going forward, we hope the professional community, the membership, will see the revived marketing committee as a resource.”

Comments by a cross-section of attendees were:

Debra Pickrel, Principal, Pickrel Communications: “I believe that there is strength in numbers — by sharing our insights with others, we develop both individual and collective vision, which benefits our profession at large.”

Ariel Wilchek, Focus Lighting: “I was able to share and absorb trade secrets to focus my efforts on getting published, gaining new clients, and making effective presentations.”

Peter C. Budeiri, AIA, Peter Budeiri + Associates: “The seminar made the point that my firm’s marketing and communications efforts should be focused on the client’s needs and interests, and that they should send a consistent message based on an accurate understanding of our strengths.”