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A/E/C

media trainingThe adage that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation but only seconds to destroy one or that you only make a first impression once can be applied to a wide array of scenarios, including your interactions with the media. It’s always surprising, then, why so many people think that can just “wing it” when it comes to media interviews. This approach is common across many industries, but especially true when it comes to professional service firms. Whether accountants, investment advisors, lawyers, financial planners, architects, or engineers, subject matter experts in complex fields too often miss the mark when provided with media opportunities. The reasons as to why so many professionals take this view could be the subject of an entire blog post. Rather than focus on the problem, I want a take a closer look at a reasonable solution that works: media training and interview prep.

Negotiation is a valuable business and communication skill for any professional. Negotiating with someone else doesn’t just happen in an office or a boardroom sitting across a table from someone else. We are constantly negotiating as we navigate our daily lives at work and home. Sure, different situations require distinct negotiation and communication tactics and the stakes vary widely from one negotiation to the next, but the core principles of the best negotiators stay the same. That’s one of the key lessons learned last week at the annual conference of the Society of Marketing Professional Services’ Virginia Chapter. There were a number of insightful presentations with great takeaways, but the one that stood out the most was “The Cartography of Negotiation” by Scott Wayne of The Frontier Project. Scott outlined tools and tips to enhance your negotiating skills. Here are my three biggest lessons:

It’s only February and 2017 has already been a wild year for marketing professionals! From fake news to ongoing disruptions in how people consume information, the communications landscape remains challenging. Despite the many hurdles, opportunities abound and there are exciting new ways to reach your target audience in an engaging manner. But, what really works and how do you manage it?

Awards1As August and the summer winds down, fall is fast approaching. Not only does that mean pumpkin-spiced everything, but also awards nomination season. Many of the biggest industry awards for A/E/C firms issue their call for nominations in the fall and early winter. Now is the time to start thinking about your best projects and if they’re truly awards worthy. Crating compelling and innovative award submissions can be tricky for architects, engineers, and general contractors. The projects these A/E/C firms tackle are complex and technical. However, if you dig a alittle deeper you might be surprised!

computer2In the world of content marketing, the professional services industry has usually been ahead of the curve. Before this now common marketing practice even had a name, professional service providers tried to distinguish themselves through thought leadership and knowledge since that is the basis of their business. Whereas this particular industry sector has been at the forefront of content marketing, the execution of these pieces has not always been beneficial. Here are some best practices for firms to consider when undertaking a content marketing campaign:

blueprintArchitecture, engineering, and construction firms face a variety of challenges when it comes to public relations. The services that A/E/C companies offer are often complex and not highly visible. Firms need to secure permission from clients to discuss projects. There is uncertainty about how to communicate the work to non-professionals. All of these challenges can pose concerns for A/E/C firms, but there are some simple steps that you can use to craft a compelling story.

auditNext week marks the unofficial end to summer with Labor Day weekend which means that everyone will be heading back to school. It also means the start of the dreaded budget planning season. Marketers across the country will be starting to pull together their projections for 2016 and creating reports to explain ROI on expenditures during 2015. Whereas budget season can be stressful, it also forces us to really examine what works and where there can be room for improvement for marketing efforts. As you go into your budget, here are some tips:

In Stephan Kaiser and Max Ringlstetter’s Strategic Management of Professional Service Firms: Theory and Practice (Springer, 2011), the authors discuss the procurement process of professional services. One of the key elements as to why companies and individuals buy these services is the brand that is accompanied with the advice that they are receiving. That means that prospective clients expect a certain philosophy and set of knowledge that comes with those professional services. If the individuals that make up the firm do not meet those expectations or are not communicating the firm’s identity correctly, they are likely to lose the business opportunity.

For years, when working on a real estate or transportation project, the developer or public entity leading the project was often seen front-and-center. This is still the case in many developments, but increasingly the architect, engineering firm, or construction company is finding itself in the public spotlight. Those types of firms have not traditionally invested in community relations programs. As players behind the scenes, they weren’t called on for significant interaction with the public and key other constituencies. All of that has changed in the wake of the Great Recession and the return of large-scale public projects, especially in the transportation sector. As A/C/E firms become more central players — and often pointed at as the scapegoat when a projects takes a bad turn — community relations and external communications should take greater priority.

As anyone who is involved in the real estate or A/C/E industries know, a project – no matter what the size – involves a variety of moving pieces. It takes skill and a great deal of planning to effectively execute and construct a public or private building, transportation project, etc. One thing that has added to that complexity is public involvement. Since the start of the Great Recession, hundreds of projects across the Commonwealth have been stymied due to an influx of interest in real estate projects. From apartment buildings to major mixed-use communities, everything that seems to come to the table nowadays is subject to scrutiny.