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November 25, 2015
by James Way
Speakers of “Publicity in a Shifting Media Landscape,” (l-r) Debra Pickrel, Assoc. AIA, Pickrel Communications; Joann Gonchar, AIA, LEED AP, Architectural Record; James Russell, FAIA, NYC Department of Design and Construction; Erik Engquist, Crain’s New York Business; and Alan Brake, Dezeen.

Architects struggle to find projects and then exhaust themselves trying to get published. According to James S. Russell, FAIA, architecture as a reported cultural endeavor has declined, but the number of media channels continue to grow, making it increasingly important to create poignant and relevant pitches.

Asked about the print versus web balance, the panelists at the Publicity in a Shifting Media Landscape program agreed that print is not dead. Both Joann Gonchar, AIA, LEED AP, of Architectural Record and Erik Engquist of Crain’s New York Business noted that their respective publications continually navigate which news items appear where and when. Gonchar stated that Architectural Record will publish some items online but not in print, and vice versa. Engquist said that eventually all Crain’s articles appear in front of the paywall. Dezeen has no print counterpart, but Alan Brake clarified that they are studying magazines to help distinguish their content and website from others.

All agreed that easy e-communication has inundated them with material. Engquist pleaded to potential pitchers to know his publication and the trend and policy stories that he covers; anything else misses the mark. Gonchar said that so many people pitch relevant content – everything else becomes “delete” fodder. Editors want to know what the project does and how it relates to current issues and industries. This is especially true of pitching “exclusive” items. Gonchar’s “We love exclusivity!” was unanimous, but Engquist warned that such pitches should be targeted: “If it is crap dressed up because it doesn’t fit elsewhere, we can see through it.”

The panel had divergent views on new media forms. “I won’t watch videos!” exclaimed Russell when asked about the newest trend in online storytelling. “They take too long.” Brake and Gonchar see video as an added bonus, but caution that “cheesy soundtracks or poor editing” can reflect negatively on the firm or project. All agreed that social media is worth nurturing, and web page comments are great ways to engage the audience.

The most important things to remember: target the press release to the outlet; coordinate with the client and any of their PR firms; be explicit about the project’s value; and personalize the pitch to distinguish it from all the others. “And if you can link it to advertising opportunities to support print media,” suggested Russell, “then that’s great!”

James Way writes for eOculus and The Architect’s Newspaper.

Event: Publicity in a Shifting Media Landscape
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.10.15
Speakers: Alan Brake, U.S. Editor, Dezeen, Erik Engquist, Assistant Managing Editor, Crain’s New York Business; Joann Gonchar, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Editor, Architectural Record; James S. Russell, FAIA, Director, Design Strategic Initiatives, New York City Department of Design and Construction; and Debra Pickrel, Assoc. AIA, Principal, Pickrel Communications (moderator)
Organized by: AIANY Marketing and Communications Committee

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