Brien McDaniel

Director of Communications, FXFOWLE

  • Panelist: “PR Stands for Powerful Returns: Effective PR Techniques on a Budget”
As we gear up for this year’s THE Marketing Event: Maximizing Value’, the PR Committee sat down with panelist Brien McDaniel, to chat about public relations. What does public relations mean to you? When I first started out in my career, public relations meant to me cold calls and pitching, press releases and mass mailings, and counting column inches. How I’ve practiced public relations has changed greatly over the years, as well as my roles in various firms, and what it means to me has also evolved. In a way, public relations is still about publicity, visibility, and engagement, but now it means to me “communications” and “connections” – strategically communicating across all print, online and social media outlets and connecting people, resources, stories and information. And if you ask me the same question in about six months, I just may have different answer as technology is really changing how I am currently practicing.

[expand title=”Read the rest of the interview here…”] This year’s conference theme is ‘Maximizing Value’. How can firms with limited funds and limited personnel create an effective public relations plan? For most of the last ten years I have been an in-house, one-person public relations/communications department working alongside my colleagues in marketing and graphics. Typically in A/E/C firms, public relations is managed by the marketing manager/director, so when there’s an onset of proposals and deadlines, pr moves to the bottom of the “to do” list. If you are that marketing manager/director or pr/communications first task is to schedule a pr strategy meeting – yes, another meeting – and bring an agenda with your initial ideas and direction already outlined. Meet with the partners and/or project managers twice a year to set goals and create a deadline calendar for communications initiatives on items such as project announcements and news, speaking opportunities for firm leadership and client collaborations, award programs, exhibitions, and publications you’d like to see your work published and non-A/E/C publications that can enhance your visibility. The main goal is to develop a pr plan with goals, tasks and deadlines (that you adhere to) that is selective and strategic, and that can be accomplished with limited personnel and time. You don’t have to promote every win or every project; focus on what advances your brand, your market and your visibility. Social media has had a positive impact on the A/E/C industry. How can firms begin to use social media to reach and impress traditional media? I will be the first to admit that I didn’t immediately support or jump on the bandwagon when firms starting tweeting and blogging, and creating Facebook profiles. We (FXFOWLE) cautiously entered the social media world by launching a Blog, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. These endeavors had multiple purposes and audiences, but each were strategically grounded with the same goals: to share our thought leadership, to enhance our visibility, and to engage in new ways of communication and learning. The best advice I can give to firms that are thinking about social media is that before you begin, take a few months and monitor the tweeting, blogging, posting, etc. of the firms, publications, and press you admire or who are influencers in the industry (and outside the industry – for instance the publications your clients read) to get ideas how you can engage in the dialogue and at the same time how to stay true to your culture and marketing/communications initiatives. Social media is a savvy way (and free for the most part except dedicated staff time) to share information and announcements that may not be press releases, newsletter articles or e-blasts. Be creative, promote your projects and ideas (but not all the time or too much) and just don’t retweet good tweets – respond, comment, and engage in the dialogue – especially with the press. You never know, someone just might write you back – remember, “PR” has changed, not all stories come from direct pitches, press releases, and mass mailings. [/expand]