Making news

Recently a firm lost a commission in a way that reaffirms the importance of staying in the public eye.  The interviews with “Firm A” and its closest competitor were both so outstanding that the selection committee couldn’t decide which to choose.  They kicked the decision upstairs to their newly appointed director of facilities who had just relocated to this new job from another state.  The tie-breaker?  The new facilities director, “had heard of” the closest competitor, but had not heard of Firm A. 

Getting media exposure for your firm is relatively simple.  That said, don’t confuse simple with easy.  These are my tips for growing media exposure for a firm:

Approach the task like a business developer – Have a goal, a set of targets, and a timeline of what’s hot now and what will be hot later.  Be methodical and persistent, but not annoying.  Make sure to tailor your pitch to what the client needs/wants.

Think like a journalist – No matter what the project, innovation or question, make sure you can approach it from several story angles.  Recognize that there’s a premium on “first”, “tallest”, “newest”, “most”, “biggest”, etc.  Know how to write inverted pyramid style, internet content/ADOS style, magazine feature style. 

Help your practice staff succeed – Journalists’ deadlines are so much tighter than architects, engineers and contractors it can make your head spin.  For example, let’s say the average amount of time an architect spends working on a building project is about 4 years.  That would mean that in a career that starts at age 25 and ends at age 65, the average architect has worked on about 10 substantial projects.  The average journalist works on ten substantial projects in about 2 weeks.  Promptly in business typically means within a business day.  Promptly for a reporter means within the hour.  If you’re going to do this, make peace with obsessively checking your smart phone, e-mail, etc.  Also make sure your practice staff know how to talk in sound bites and know to follow up with you whenever a media person calls them.

Dedicate time to the activity – When I had the luxury of focusing on media relations 50% of my time, I was able to grow my firm’s media exposure over 600% in three years.  Very few of us get the luxury of that kind of time, but it suggests what you can do if you just dilligently work on it 20% of your time.

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