Architecture, 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.
- Recent Work: The best place to start looking for compelling stories is with your most successful and recent work. What projects are you most proud of? Why? What challenges did you overcome and how were you creative in addressing them? These types of questions can pull out critical information and serve as the foundation for your story. As with any good story, pose a problem and then solve it. You make it more compelling by adding context. Some of the best stories from A/E/C firms — whether in the media or as cast studies — show how much money was saved by a certain technique or the environmental impact of a project.
- Your People: Many of the most compelling stories, regardless of the industry, originate with people. We love to read about other people, especially if we can relate to them or root for them. Think about associates and principals at your firm. Does anyone have a unique background? What hobbies or community involvement do they enjoy? Some of the best stories are about firm leaders who have worked their way through the ranks starting at an entry level position and then evolving with the firm.
- Your Clients: Don’t forget about looking to your clients for compelling stories. This approach often unfolds in two ways. One option is to tell your client story. Describer what’s unique about them and discuss how you helped them realize a dream or goal. This approach has the advantage of building stronger client relationships because you’re keeping the focus on the client. They’ll remember that in the future. Another angle is to ask a client to tell your story. Whether in writing or on video, ask the client to talk about their experience with you on a project. By having them take the lead, you’ll highlight how close your partnership was and reinforce your commitment to clients.
- Evergreen Topics: Your work, people, and clients are the first places to look for stories. They’re the easiest stories to identify and write. However, if you’re having trouble there or have exhausted your options, take a look at the calendar. Seriously. Evergreen topics are those that come around once a year. By aligning a story with something timely and relevant you’ll make it much more compelling. For example, if you work on lots of athletic fields or projects, consider the start of spring training or football camps as times of the year to position stories about your work on athletic facilities. It will be top of mind for reporters and potential clients.
Once you’ve identified creative and compelling stories, you need to determine how to share those stories. Check out our previous blog posts about media outreach tips and leveraging results for more on this front. Also, A/E/C firms and professionals should keep in mind that these stories don’t all have to be shared with media outlets. They can serve other important communications and marketing purposes, such as online case studies, award submissions, and project examples in proposals.
Your firm has these stories. Now it’s a matter of finding them. Good hunting!