Press Relations

"Every building has an architect"

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada has a campaign to encourage its members to send this postcard to editors and to urge the editors to identify the name of architects in photo credits. Several American Institute of Architect components have also endorsed the program.
This is a usually good advice for building product manufacturers to follow when using building photos in marketing literature. It makes the manufacturer seem more connected to the culture of architects. The architect will generally like the public exposure. And it may encourage other architects to think, "Well, if XYZ Architects used it, I guess I can too."

Criticism: The campaign may make members of the association feel good about themselves, but I  doubt the campaign will have much impact on editors already pressed for time.

  • Many buildings do not have architects.
  • For many buildings, the names of the architects is lost or would require extensive research.
  • Other buildings have been remodeled and enlarged; is the editor to list them all?
  • The developer, builder, engineer, and others contributed to the vision for the building. Shouldn't they be credited too. 
  • Photos of buildings are printed for all sorts of reasons not related to the architecture, making the name of the architect irrelevant to the article. And,
Finally, there are many times an architect would prefer to not have his or her name in the press:
Even if the architect is found to be not liable for the collapse of this balcony in Berkeley, would the firm want's its name here?

How NOT to use Flash Drives in Press Kits

It has become popular to use "thumb-size" flash drives in press kits. Having the copy and photos on a thumb drive makes it easy for an editor to transfer the data directly into a story, without having to go onto your website or open a CD.

Thumb drives are also a type of "swag" that will attract the attention of an editor. In the press room at the recent World of Concrete (WOC) trade show, I watched editors browse through press kit to see what was worth the effort of hauling home; press kits with flash drives went right into their goodie bag.

But here are a few pointers about how to do it wrong:

- Not using printed media, too. If you just put a bunch of flash drives on the press room table, your message will not be available to the editor during the trade show. Use your paper literature to motivate the editor to visit your booth and to stimulate buzz at the show.

- Not putting editable text on the drive. If you want the editor to run your story, include the press release in a format that the editor can cut and paste. Some of the press kits I saw had pdf files that were locked to prevent text from being copied. What editor will take the time to re-key your article into their word processor?

- Not including an overview sheet on the thumb drive. When I opened one of the flash drives from the trip, all it showed me were file names like:  2450GR, RT24, and 830RT. These may very well be model numbers for new products, but it is off-putting to a busy editor that doesn't know your company well. File names like, "Pervious_Concrete_Admixture" or "New_Sales_Manager" will be more easily understood.

- Not using the color of your brand. Flash drives come in all colors, and can be imprinted in any color. Use colors that support your branding.

- Not printing the name of the company on the data stick. The editor will probably erase your content and reuse the data stick for his or her own purposes. If the name of your company is printed on the face of the drive, at least the drive will continue to provide brand awareness.

- Not including links to your website on the thumb drive. The press release is supposed to be a tease that encourages an editor to go deeper into your story. Put live links into the digital press releases to invite editors to learn the rest of your story.

- Not indicating the name of the trade show. A well formatted press release should have a release date and, if the announcement is being made at a trade show, the show name should be indicated. Yet this information was missing on many of the flash drives I collected.  Compare that to naming the drive "WOC" (instead leaving it named "untitled") and placing downloads inside a folder named, "World of Concrete 2012."

- Not reporting any "News". I attended a press conference where the speaker had poor presentation skills. Afterwards, I asked an editor in attendance what she thought, and she replied that she didn't mind the bad speaker because, "at least he had real news to share." Many press kits just rehash the corporate brand or past glories. It may make the Communications Director feel good, but it is not much value for an editor looking to provide meaningful content to readers.

- Not including press releases: One flash drive was filled with brochures, animations, photos, slide shows, and sales sheets. Perhaps the exertion of putting all that together wore out the PR department, because they didn't include a press release.

- Not putting data on the flash drive. It happens.

Another Score for Publicity

As we’ve noted before, the real impact of publicity is notoriously hard to track and quantify.  With more and more publicity exposure taking place via the web – exposure that often remains available and searchable for far longer than most print media ever did – it’s harder than ever to know who’s reading what, and what percentage of them act on what they read.

Anecdotal evidence continues to come in, though, saying, “Publicity works.”  The latest installment:

Michael Chusid recently wrote an article in a major architectural magazine about an advanced materials conference he attended.  In it, he mentioned a company that made a presentation, a company that specializes in digital fabrication and has done a lot of work with resin composites.  They weren’t the focus of the article, just one of many things described.

A few weeks after the article appeared – I was going to say “in print,” but with simultaneous web distribution of most magazines, print has become merely the tip of the iceberg ­– the president of the company received a call from one of the largest and most prestigious architectural firms in the world.  They requested him to come and do a presentation to them.   That kind of request was the bullseye on his marketing strategy target. 

Of course, this was only shortly after publication.  Who knows how many more such inquiries he may get from that one mention, over the next few years? The shelf life of articles on the web has become pretty much Forever, and unlike the advertising, they show up in search engines.  We have had numerous inquiries recently, responding to articles we authored for clients two or three years ago.

World of Concrete Press Conferences

Press Conference reservations at World of Concrete have been opened up.  (  If you'll be at World of Concrete with a new product, or you have product news, a press conference is a great way to get a little publicity.  In past years, we have helped clients set up press conferences, prepare powerpoints, and alert magazine editors about the conference, and usually seen 2-5 stories get into print as a direct result.  A press conference can be one of the great publicity bargains.

A Magazine That 'Gets' Digital

Recently, I posted about the evolving nature of magazines in the digital age.  I opined that not many construction trade magazines are yet dealing very effectively with the new delivery media.

That same day, I found out about one that's doing exactly what I'd been looking for:  Sustainable Construction, a recently-launch publication from Cyngus.  It's currently scheduled as a digital quarterly, with one issue per year also being published in hardcopy.  The publisher tells me that the print issue will be separately designed from the digital edition of the same issue.

Sustainable Construction is formatted in landscape mode, and the online version looks like it would fit an iPad screen, as well.  (Cygnus is also offering a free iPad app for the magazine.)  The pages are readable without going to "magnification mode," even on my laptop screen.  The ads are big and bright and full screen, too.  The overall effect is excellent.

Of course, it's totally appropriate and not even surprising for a sustainability magazine to be largely paperless.  The unusual thing is that they've jumped into digi-screen formatting, and done it well.

Bravo, Cygnus!  I hope other publishers are smart enough to follow in your footsteps, and build a new infrastructure for this valuable communications tradition.

Marketing with Standards

Standards: Dense Prose
Industry standards are essential to the construction industry. Yet they are often confusing, out of date, and contradictory. Produced by consensus organizations, they are subject to political pressures that can favor or exclude proprietary products and innovative solutions. Moreover, designers, builders, and building material suppliers are challenged to stay current with revisions to standards.

This complexity can work to your marketing advantage.

First, building product manufacturers should be active in standards writing organizations affecting their work. These consensus-driven committees need your insight into best industry practices, the needs of your clients, and the pragmatic limitations of current technology.

Further, you can keep your clients up-to-date and informed of changes to standards. This will make your firm the "go-to" resource for current and reliable information. For example, changed standards provide a great opportunity for publicity; contact the editors of trade journals and offer to provide an article about the revisions.

Your marketing and technical literature should be up-to-date, and that your sales representatives and customer service personnel are trained. Then use your product literature, e-mail blasts, guide specifications, and continuing education programs to inform your customers.

Your point-of-purchase and packaging provide other opportunities. Imagine a customer that has a choice between two products; one has a sticker proclaiming: "Complies with the New 2011 Industry Standards," and the other is silent on the matter. Which has the greatest appeal?

I recently updated a guide specification for a client that produces pigments for integrally-colored concrete. In the decade since I wrote the original guide spec, most of the standards it references had been revised. The updated standards cost over $100, an expense few construction firms are willing to pay, especially when a firm has to stay abreast of revisions in dozens or even hundreds of product categories. An even greater cost is the time required for a professional to review the steady stream of updated documents. This provides an opportunity for my client to be of service to their customers.

For example, American Concrete Institute document ACI 303.1 - Specifications for Architectural Concrete has not been revised since 1997, but it references another document that has been revised, ACI 117. The 2006 version of ACI 117 changes how construction tolerances are specified. Had my client reissued a guide specification with the obsolete tolerances, it would have been a disservice to their customers, a potential source of embarrassment, and perhaps even a legal complication.

Another document, ACI 301 - Specifications for Structural Concrete, also contains requirements for "architectural concrete." ACI does not offer guidance for coordinating specifications where loadbearing (structural) concrete must also meet rigorous appearance requirements (architectural). Having identified this conflict, my client can now help their clients by offering guide specification language that reconciles the conflicting documents.

Requirements for concrete pigments are defined in ASTM C979. Yet ACI 303.1 adds requirements that are not in the ASTM standard. The added requirements are not representative of industry practices and can actually be a detriment to successful concrete work. One suspects the committee was influenced of the one manufacturer that benefits from the added requirements; my client did not have a representative at the table. My client's revised guide specification explains the rationale for sticking to the ASTM requirements, and tries to paint their competitor into a corner.

I now serve on an ACI committee that is updating some of the outdated standards. While I am there to represent my client's interests, I must always work towards the goal of advancing the entire industry.

PR motivates customers to take action.

Measuring the real penetration of PR articles in magazines and online is virtually impossible, so it’s always nice to get a little feedback from the field.

We recently placed a case-study article in a major construction magazine for one of our clients. The article's byline names our client's marketing manager as one of the authors.

Within two weeks of publication, the marketing manager got an inquiry from the structural engineer at a company that makes architectural products used in conjunction with his own, one of the largest companies in the industry.  The engineer congratulated him on being a published author, praised the article, and asked for information about a new product mentioned in the article.

It should be noted that this article appeared in a magazine with a ‘non-proprietary’ policy, meaning that the brand and product names were never specified. The brand equity in the article consisted of our client’s name on the byline, images credited to the company, and a chance to tell a convincing story.  That was enough for a reader who was motivated to inquire.

Press Conference Preparation

When planning a successful press conference, here are important steps and time lines to consider:

A month before the event:
  • Select a media-trained speaker who is very knowledgeable about your product or service.
  • Reserve the room. (Consider a date and time that isn't too early, that will not conflict with a large competitor or a lunch break (unless you provide a quality lunch replacement), and try not to plan it on the first or last day of a convention.)
  • Send press releases to the press well in advance so they can help publicize your event.
  • Promote the event to other applicable media outlets (magazines, newspapers, online press, blogs, TV, and radio).
  • Promote the event to local media.
  • Create a slide show or other visuals.
  • Hire a professional videographer to film the event (for B-roll footage, website use, general promotion).
  • Prepare and print a press kit or save an electronic press kit on a USB drive or website.
A week before the event:
  • Create and print handouts.
  • Make sure you have a compatible laptop, a compatible slide show presentation and a back-up, back-up projector lamp, connector cords, power cords, etc.
  • Hire people to be greeters at the event.
  • Order refreshments for the event (if applicable).
  • Set up individual interviews with reporters for after the press conference (if applicable).
  • Rehearse.

The day of the event: 
  • Train your greeters.
  • Pass out handouts.
  • Have extra pens and paper available for reporters.
  • Turn off cell phones.
  • Encourage interaction.
  • Plant questions.
  • Collect business cards and/or have a newsletter sign-up sheet somewhere in the room.
  • Hand out press kits.
  • Be available for individual interviews with reporters after the event.
  • Edit your B-roll footage.

A day after the event:
  • Send edited B-roll footage of the event to TV news stations.
  • Send a thank you letter to everyone who attended.
  • Provide other proper follow-up.
  • Send a press release covering the event.
  • Set up Google Alerts with keywords to track press clips.

A week after the event:
  • Track press clips.
  • Any additional follow-up necessary.

Tips for more effective email blasts

One of our clients received a prestigious award recently. As his publicist, we prepared a press release, sent it to the appropriate editors, and posted it on the client's website.

We also wanted to share the good news with his customers, vendors, and other industry contacts. Our plan was to send an email blast to his list of contacts, using Constant Contact as our e-mail marketing service. The email was brief; a photo of our client, two short paragraphs, his logo, and some boilerplate about his firm. For those wanting more information, we included a link to the press release on his website.

Our client asked, "Shouldn't we include the text of the press release in the email?"

We included the full text of the press release in the emails we sent to editors. The typical editor needs to scan the entire press release, and decide on the spot whether or not to use the information. Asking an editor to open a link would slow down the process and decrease the likelihood of the copy being read.

But in this case, our email blast was for relationship-building. There is an inverse relationship between the quantity of copy in an email and the likelihood that someone will read it. The email had to be friendly in tone and to the point. We crafted the email to get the most important branding messages into a single email screen.

More, the invitation to click-through to the press release creates an opportunity for engagement that brings the reader to a greater level of commitment than would simply reading the email. In Constant Contact, we are able to track who clicks through, a feature that gives us clues as to which prospects have the most interest.

Send your marketing questions to

Publicity: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Two days ago, I received a phone call from a structural engineer.  She had read an article on the Web about lightweight studcast precast concrete walls.  She wanted to propose them for a project, at a meeting in 24 hours.  She wanted to know where she could get the walls, and since the article had our name and phone number on it, she called.

The article was published in 2007.

The company, Ecolite Concrete,  invested in publicity in 2007, and that investment is still paying dividends.  It might get them a project with a major big-box chain.

Publicity – getting news outlets to give editorial space to your story – has always been a marketing bargain.  You pay to create the publicity materials and interface with the editors, but the page space or air time is free, and you get to tell your product's story in great depth and often at great length.  This is in stark contrast to advertising, where you pay (usually big bucks) for very limited space or time.

In the digital age, publicity has become a better bargain than ever, as this incident dramatically demonstrated.  When newspapers and magazines were still only in print, and TV and radio news were only available as they were being broadcast, the shelf-life of publicity was pretty limited.  Magazines tended to hang around for very long after issue, but the likelihood that any particular article would be casually read - months or even years after it wass printed - decreased with every month, and searching for something in an old issue was cumbersome or impossible.

In the digital world, every communication potentially lasts forever.

Things stay on Web servers a long time.  They get copied from one website to another.  They get posted on Youtube. They get linked all across the globe.  And they can all be searched in ways that would boggle the minds of analog-age index-writers.

I guarantee that the engineer who called me would not have found this information by Googling – three years later – if the information had been in an advertisement.  I'm not even sure you can google the content of ads in the current 'digital editions' of magazines.  The article, which appeared on about seven pages of the magazine, cost a little more to write than one full page ad would cost in some of the major trade magazines.

By an extraordinary coincidence, the inventor of Ecolite was sitting in our office when the phone call came.  Everyone was floored by that bit of serendipity.  Later over dinner, though, he commented that his being there at that moment may have been coincidence, but the engineer finding his product by searching and reading that article was not coincidental at all.  It was exactly the way it’s supposed to work.

Positioned for the Upturn?

The Upturn in construction is coming.


The McGraw Hill-2011 Construction Outlook predicts “modest” improvement in 2011, with an 8% increase in construction starts, as compared with a predicted 2% decrease in 2010. Robert A. Murray, Vice President of Economic Affairs at McGraw-Hill Construction, commented, "We're turning the corner, slowly. 2011 will be the first year of renewed growth for overall construction activity, and 2010 becomes the final year of a very lengthy and unusual construction cycle."

Which means that now is exactly the time to ask yourself, “Is my company positioned to succeed in the coming upturn?”  When projects start ramping up again, some companies will be well-positioned to attract business and prepared to do business.  Their products will be top-of-mind when specs are written and bids are solicited. Other companies, who have not used their down-time wisely, will be playing catch up.

During the downturn, many businesses slashed marketing budgets.  As things turn around, it’s time to revise that strategy.  Marketing communications is the only thing that will keep your brands visible during a period when both planning and actual construction are down and the products themselves are not actively being spec’d or used.

If you cut (or eliminated) your marketing budget, now is the time to re-build it with a solid strategy.

Step One: Marketing Materials

When you slashed the marketing budget, you probably stopped keeping marketing materials up to date.  As thing start to improve, you will need them in your hands and ready to go.  When you reach out and get the attention of a spec writer or a contractor, they’re going to say, “Send me something.”  Are your materials ready for action now?

Have you improved any products or introduced new ones? If you have introduced new products over the past three years, you might need to re-introduce them in 2011. 

Do you have any new competitors?  You might need to revise your selling points to counter their strategy.

Have there been changes in code that affect your products?  Do your selling points refer to LEED, which has been changing?  Your sales literature needs to reflect current conditions.

Does your sale literature look outdated?  If you haven’t revised it for two or three years, the answer is probably Yes.

Do you have any news that might get you editorial space in magazines or online?  Refresh your press kit.  (Or perhaps, create a press kit?)

You still have time to prepare company to attract business when things start to move again.  And if business is slow now, it makes sense to use your current downtime to prepare for a better future.

Next Time:

Step Two: Reaching Out to Idle Architects, Engineers, and Specifiers

Hyperbole vs. Credibility

I received a bit of spam from an individual named Stephen Sands, who made me an offer I could so easily refuse.  His spam began:

“With stronger web placement on the major search engines, your online results could be infinite.” That was all I needed to read to know that I never want to do business with this guy, even if he’s right.   I have a kneejerk reaction to people who toss around promises with the concept “infinite” in them: I figure they’re probably just blowing smoke in the first place.  They’ve got nothing and they’re trying to hype into something, so it’s no worse a lie to hype it into ‘everything.’

Perhaps Stephen Sands actually has a lot to offer, I don’t know; but his opening line made me certain that I’ll never find out.

In an atmosphere of so much competition for communications channels, the temptation to speak ‘louder’ is more intense than ever.  But we also live in an atmosphere of consumerist defensiveness and distrust, where hyperbole often has a negative impact.  That means we need to be both careful and thoughtful about what we claim in ads, sales literature, and other statements about products. 

Careful, because some statements may have legal implications such as an implied warranty. 

Thoughtful, because inflated claims create a credibility problem.

The first job of advertising and sales literature is, certainly, to get attention.  But we all know from grade school that there are both productive and unproductive ways to get attention.  Don’t choose a way that torpedoes the second job, which is to create the foundation for trust.  If the nature of your claims is too good to be true, people won’t believe them.  If the tone you set is over the top, people will  be suspicious.  If the crafting of the message impairs your credibility, it doesn’t matter how good your product is.

If, on the other hand, you can state some significant truths in an interesting manner, readers may trust you long enough to find out more.

Resist the temptation to hype, for truly, it is a fate worse than death.  (Oops!  I mean, resist the temptation to hype because you’ll probably do yourself more harm than good.)

The simplest test is to step back, look at your literature, and ask yourself, “If my competitor were saying this, would I believe it?”

Product Shots: Faking It For Real

Looking too good to be true is what a product shot is all about.  And frequently, that’s how product shots are made, too.
We recently needed to shoot a magazine cover shot for an article we’d placed, a sort of stealth product shot with a good deal of production value.  The scene is supposed to be a steaming shower, a location that is not so easy to photograph for several reasons: they're small, they're often short, they're wet.  To make the assignment more challenging, it had to be a wheel-chair accessible shower.  And to make our lives more interesting, we had a very short deadline.

Our first solution was to find a nice-looking wheelchair-accessible shower in a hotel room.  After seeing several places where there was no room for lights and a camera, we abandoned that idea and decided to buy a pre-fab showerstall and set it up in a sheltered exterior place, where we could light it and shoot it.  A trip to the warehouse store failed to turn up any units that were suitable, however. 

The ultimate solution was to use our own ingenuity, building a wall out of plywood and tile set up in a well-shaded carport, where the light could be controlled and the water flow wouldn’t damage anything.  Use of slightly non-standard materials accelerated the time for tile and grout to set, and construction was accomplished in a bit over a day.  Materials and labor were roughly comparable to the original budget for identifying and renting a hotel room. 

The shower-valve was mounted in the wall, but was unconnected to the water supply.  The shower-head was piped to a garden hose.  Steam was portrayed by dry ice on the set, later augmented in post-processing in Photoshop.  

The set looked like a mess. 
But what the camera saw looks like a steamy shower (see top of post).

By creating this image,  we were able to make our client's article into the cover story, considerably enhancing its visibility and publicity value. The client will get further value by using the same photo in their marketing materials. 
Photos copyright 2010 by Chusid Associates.

Final Product (Posted 11/1/10)

If You Want to Sell Internationally, Look International

Here’s a tip for any US business seeking to sell on an international scale: revise your phone number.

At World of Concrete, I offered my client’s press kit to an Australian journalist.  He said, “Oh, I saw that on the table, but I didn’t bother because they’re not international.” 

I asked how he figured that out (since my client was adamant that he would sell anywhere in the world).  The journalist pointed to the telephone contact number at the bottom of every page of the press kit.  “They only have an 800-number.  Those don't work internationally.  If this company ever got or wanted international customers, they’d show the international calling code.”

An 800-number is great for your North American customers, prospects, etc., However, if it’s your only contact number, it’s a quick tip-off that you don’t have foreign customers and don't have experience doing business overseas.  An international caller to the US would expect the international calling prefix “1” to dial North America, sometimes referred to as a “plus code.” 

Thus, the international-friendly number for Chusid Associates would be shown as +1 818 774 0003. 

Go over your sales literature, press materials, website, letterhead, etc, and see if you’re projecting the international image you desire.

5 Essential Press Kit Pieces

Trade show season is in full swing, with the AIA show last week, NeoCon this week, and preparations getting under way for Greenbuild (you have started preparing for Greenbuild, right?) and once again I am amazed by the number of companies, exhibitors even, that do not put out a press kit. Or even worse, have an ineffective one.

Creating and maintaining a useful press kit does not need to be expensive or time consuming. If you have active year-round publicity then you probably already have every thing you need, and can add or replace using the newest releases and articles. But even starting from scratch it should be a pain-free experience.
First, a word on using press kits. I prepare kits with two ends in mind: providing print-ready materials for interested editors, and important sales tools for prospects or investors I meet at the show. There is a lot of debate about using folders full of printed materials versus customized flash drives, but either way you go your press kit should contain the following five pieces:
  1. Photo Sheet: A one-page document with thumbnails showing print-ready (300 dpi or better) photos you have available. For a digital press kit you might have the actual image files or a slideshow as well; I still like the contact sheet because it gives editors a one-stop way to review our images. Also, I like to have them contact me to get the photos, or visit a website I am tracking, so I know who is using them and can follow up. Remember to include file names so editors can tell you which ones they want.
  2. Product Announcement: The construction industry has a very generous definition of "new", which means you can get away with "new product announcements" for your 5-year-old products. Even for established lines, this is a piece editors can drop in a "Product Gallery" without any trouble. Keep it to 75 words tops, with your company boilerplate and contact info below.
  3. Recent Press Releases: If you do not have any, this is a great excuse to put out a few. Done something new and exciting? Write about that. New certification, or an exciting project? Great. Nothing of note happened at all this year? Then celebrate another successful year in business during a down economy. These should be 200-400 words, focusing on a single idea.
  4. Current Sales Collateral: This is more for the press kit as sales tool. Any brochure or flyer you have at your booth should also be in here. Technical data sheets or guide specs can also be a nice touch, if done well.
  5. Show-Specific Information: This is the one most press kits forget, and the one that devastates their effectiveness. Be sure to include contact information for you at the show. Include your booth number, a cell phone or email account you will be checking regularly, any show special offers, and a schedule of events (press conferences, educational seminars, receptions, etc.). Press kits do no good if interested prospects and journalists can't reach you until after the show. Include a separate page or put a sticker on the front; just make sure it's there.

In the past, I kept a stack of folders near my desk, ready to go with these essentials, and would customize one before every important meeting. Now I do the same thing electronically, keeping a loaded flash drive I can afford to give away in my computer bag. There are other elements it is nice to add later, such as feature-length articles, backgrounders, and audience-targeted sales literature, but this is what you need for your bare-bones kit.

What's in your press kit? Tell us in the comments.

How to measure PR results

Measuring the real significance of a single press release is notoriously difficult. If we were doing a large, consumer oriented PR campaign, it is much easier to measure results. For example, a big PR campaign about a new record shows up almost instantly in iTunes downloads. Most building products, however, have a much more diffuse and slower path to market.

We can share anecdotal information: For example, a contractor told one of our clients that he had just finished comparing two bids, and our client's was high. The very same day, however, the contractor saw an article about our client's product and remembered how much more efficient it was to install than the competitor's. The article inspired the contractor to accept our client's higher priced bid. When people call or email you, do you always inquire where they learned about your company? Doing so, and tracking the information, can provide valuable data.

Another way we can measure is by adding up the cost of buying an equivalent amount of advertising space. For example, a trade magazine article will probably be six or more pages in length. Purchasing the same amount of ad space would cost about $20,000 plus the cost of designing the ad, much more than you would pay to write and place the article.

PR generates awareness, and awareness is accumulative and builds slowly. Our clients still report inquiries from publicity we placed a decade ago. This is even more likely to happen in the new online era, where documents remain in circulation indefinitely. A Google search on your building product after sending your press release will now show your site in the top 20 hits. With continued PR, we may be able to raise its ranking to the top 10.

PR is never meant to stand alone, but to work in conjunction with other marketing efforts. For example, Wikipedia may not allow us to insert your company's URL directly into its website; but we can now link building product) to one of the online postings based on your press release.

In advertising, you control the schedule for when an ad reaches its audience. With PR, you surrender much of this control. While many online news outlets pick up wire service stories almost instantly, other editors file press releases away for later use -- and this could be as little as two months from now or as great as one year from now.

Finally, don't discount the possibility, even the likelihood, that your product had an immediate impact. Some building owner or designer may have seen the press release the same day it went online, and forwarded the post to his project architect to use on the project where they are just beginning the landscaping plans.

These are some of the reasons we recommend establishing an ongoing PR budget to keep your product visible, continuing to build brand awareness, planting seeds that will bloom in their own season, and continuing to improve your search engine standings.

Continuing Education in Architectural Record

One of my clients recently participated in an Architectural Record multi-sponsor continuing education article. For the same price as a full page ad, my client got the ad, plus a product spotlight, plus 25 percent of the coverage in a themed continuing education article, plus other marketing exposures. The continuing education article remains online for a year, generating prospects. My client has gotten a good response from the program -- over 260 people took the course in the first week alone! Not only a nice number, but a number that represents highly motivated prospects that spent up to an hour of their own time studying your product category. This is in addition to readers that viewed the pages in the magazine and online without registering for credit.

The magazine has several multi-sponsor continuing education courses scheduled in the coming year. I can't guarantee that the deal is still in effect; the magazine was very motivated because they had three buyers already and needed one more. But it is worth asking about.

One final caveat: Architectural Record uses freelance writers to compile the articles. Although the authors do a fine job, they can not be expected to invest the time and energy necessary to fully understand your product and how best to tell your story. Make sure you have your own PR consultant involved in the process to help shape the message.

Press Kits at Tradeshows

World of Concrete attracts a large contingent of construction industry and popular press editors and reporters. The show's producers, Hanley Wood, do a great job of providing a press room and space for press conferences. If you are exhibiting at WOC, take advantage of the opportunity to stock the press room with press releases. The press room has long tables where exhibitors can display their press releases, and most editors do take the time to scan the materials on the table; most go back to their offices with a satchel full of news they plan to use in the coming year. Here are some tips published by World of Concrete on how to do an effective press kit:

Press Preferred Media Kit Format: Based on press feedback, we recommend that you go green and do not provide many printed press kits. Printed materials are difficult for the press to carry onsite and are expensive to ship back to their offices. Additionally, it causes the press to re-key information about your company vs. copying content electronically to help create content.

We strongly recommend you provide:
1) 50 flash drives (least bulky digital media) containing the Media Kit Content suggested below or provide an online media kit URL on your Company Overview sheet
2) 50 copies of printed 8.5” x 11” company overview
3) Something to hold/display the materials onsite

If you do decide to provide printed media kits, please supply 50 copies and preferably something to hold/display your media kits onsite such as a lucite/plastic holder.

8.5” x 11” Company Overview (Optional and in addition to your Press Kit.)
• Company logo
• At the top, provide your Booth #(s) and who the press should contact for more information onsite and post-show
• Online media kit URL
• What your company does
• Target market (geographically and within industry)
• List of products you’re exhibiting with brief description
• What’s New
• Why press should visit your booth or press conference
• Outline your show activities (speaking engagements and demonstrations); who is available for interviews, what is their expertise, when and where they will be available.

Electronic/Printed Press Kit Contents
This is your chance to be detailed; but make sure the information you provide is also newsworthy, grammatically correct, clear and concise.
• Write-up about company
• Write-up about products and applications
• Dated press releases
• Hi-res, print ready photos (on CD or flash drive)
• Video demonstrations (on CD or flash drive)

Chusid Associates will be at the show again this year -- we have six clients participating in the event. I would welcome the chance to meet with you to discuss your marketing requirements. Contact Michael Chusid ahead of time or at the show via my cell phone - 818.210.4937.