Getting Out There: Keys to Being Published

So you’re flipping through the latest copy of a design mag and you pause to look at a project and think- “I could do that. Actually, I DO do that.  How come I’m not in this magazine?”  Good question.  Talent is but one facet of fame.  Doing good work and hoping to be recognized via a “stumble-upon” strategy is therefore a very poor marketing strategy.  In case you don’t happen to live in New York, Chicago, Miami or LA, network with influential industry movers and shakers, and have exceptionally famous clients commissioning you for seminal projects, you will need some help getting discovered.  Save the spiel on how you don’t care about such shallow things as recognition- that’s archispeak for “I want to win awards and get published but I don’t know how.”  Do read on for some tips from my friends in the business of sourcing and writing about architecture:

Be a compelling source
Publication writers are always looking for a story that will resonate with their readers. Whether it’s a design issue, technology innovation or insight into the practice of architecture, how has something you are doing changed the equation?  Even something you have attempted and failed may be a more thought-provoking story  than the firm that plugged along successfully with the status quo.  Remember, being “good” is not the same as being “interesting.”

Be source-able
You don’t need a PR agent to tell your story.  Too many architects believe that they can be passive, letting some guru outsider observe their genius and turn that into a press release that gets actual press.  What they need to be doing (as I have advocated in many, many previous posts) is clarifying their vision and purpose as a firm and developing a mission statement for each project.  Not only will this help clients to be on board and the design team to stay aligned with the project goals, but it differentiates your firm- its product as well as processes.  Now you can write a press release, or social media blurb that really says something and that allows architecture and design media writers searching for a particular topic stream to notice you. You may even get attention from more unlikely sources that deal with very broad (say New York Times) or very niche (say green urban planning) markets.

Be a source that’s sorted
Take some time to compile a list of all the publications that cater to what you do.  These can be local and regional publications, or national broad-based and niche magazines.  Get a copy of their editorial calendar.  If, for example, you know that Architect is planning to feature healthcare in its October issue, time your press release about your paradigm-shifting ED to coincide with their schedule so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle or tragically just miss the cutoff for that year.  Tailor any press releases to align with the individual flavor of a publication.  Consider different angles like highlighting building materials, design process, client management, or technology in order to be relevant to them.  It also helps to be aware of what has been featured previously.  If your project or topic is too similar to one that was published in the last two years, it’s not likely to garner much interest; but if you can build on the theme and present a new twist, or can tap into the overall goals of the publication itself, you might just get some traction.  A lot more traction than a generic broadcast of a press release.
Please share your publishing experiences: what worked, what didn’t and what you’re about to try next.  Here’s to seeing all of you in print soon!