Genesis Vasquez

Senior Marketing Coordinator HLB Lighting

  • Member, SMPS-NY
Public relations help firms deliver their key corporate messages in a manner and medium that reaches target audiences. Many factors come into play, and last week’s professional development program uncovered what it takes to have a successful PR campaign. Featuring Brien McDaniel of FXFOWLE, Tami Hausman of Hausman, Tony Sclafani of Javits Center & NYCCOC, Leo Argiris of Arup and Joann Gonchar of Architectural Record, the program offered insights from various perspectives. The panel discussed different experiences they have had through collaborative PR. Moderator, Gonchar opened by asking how a successful PR campaign is defined. Responses included “Synergy occurs when it really works” – from Principal Argiris, “ particularly to communicate that design matters.” Scalfani offered the Owner perspective with, “Changing the conversation.” In-house communications expert McDaniel cited the advantage of “being in the room where “it” happens.” External PR expert, Hausman, added “You have to communicate!” as it is key for creating an environment of trust. Whether it be with a reporter, client, sub-consulting and in-house teams, it is all about staying visible and building relationships centered on mutual respect. The panel went into explaining the effort that goes into a PR campaign and even more so when it entails sharing the spotlight through a collaborative effort. Developing a message requires strategy and establishing expectations. The intent may be a) showcase the firm’s work b) increase recognition c) influence public opinion. Things may not unfold as you expect. Take Sclafani’s and McDaniel’s collaboration on the Javits Center project. The Javits Center renovation provided an opportunity to change its perception. Local real estate publisher, Curbed New York was the first to print an article about Center renovations with the focal point being the “green roof”. While not necessarily the lead story the partners were after, this exposure led to bigger articles in more prestigious and mainstream channels about the project and firms involved. Just goes to show, if you have the right project you are well on your way to having a successful PR campaign. “Keep tabs on those projects you think are news worthy” advised McDaniel, “and how one story tees up the next story,” added Hausman. The panel cautioned the audience that great projects don’t always makes good stories. “On time and on budget” may be the mark of a successful project but is rather boring from a news standpoint. NDA’s prohibit discussion about project specifics but don’t extend to how projects are designed. As emphasized by Argiris, collaborative PR offers a powerful opportunity to illuminate the design process and design impact on people/end-users. McDaniel added the advantage collaborative PR offers in achieving continuity in how team members present projects through narratives and visuals. This cohesiveness strengthens team ties and offers an underlying richness for story content. Capturing how these perspectives intermingle to make a difference for clients is print-worthy and is a great motivator for all team players. Click here to view pictures of the speakers at the event.