Architects have no time for media

One of the biggest hurdles to architects and designers getting published seems to be time. Everyone is so stretched within their practices, sitting down and putting together content for a journalist can just slip to the bottom of the list. But promoting your work in the right places is just so important.

Well, this week Nic and I were given the perfect example of how quickly you can get out to journalists. One of our users signed up, and within 15 minutes they had set up their project on the system and sent it to key publications they wanted to target. Within a few hours, they had made contact with editors and were ready to publish.


All a journalist really needs to get started:

  • Professional photography
  • Description of project
  • Location
  • Project type
  • Credits

But let’s break this down to understand how long you actually need to spend preparing content…


Description text | 2 – 20 mins

You don’t need to spend hours crafting the perfect story. This is what journalists do. If you already have text on your website, copy and paste it in (that’s the 2-minute option). If you haven’t written anything yet, use our Brief, Challenges, Solutions storytelling tool. This doesn’t need to take more than 20 minutes – just write as if you were talking to a client.

DO NOT USE ARCHISPEAK!


Photography | 1 – 5 mins

If you’re planning to get published (or have an up-to-date website) you will already have your photography ready. All you need is a Dropbox or Google Drive link, with all the photos you’re happy to publish, and your photography is set.

Credits | 1 – 5 mins

Add all the relevant credits for the project, including photographer and project team members where relevant.


Q+A | 10 – 20 mins

Using a great tool like a BowerKit helps you to prepare a simple Q+A covering the Who, What, When, Where and Why – everything a journalist needs to understand your project. Again, don’t think too hard about this, just answer in your own voice, as if you were talking directly to clients (the kind without a degree in architecture/literature).


At the very most, this process should take you no more than an hour. If you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it can take less than 20 minutes.

So go check out a BowerKit like this one to see exactly what you need, and how quickly you can pull it together. Spending an hour up front can help you get published in the right places more often.

 

Why Journalists Love Awards Time

Whether you win or not, journalists are excited about your awards submission.


You’ve just attended an architecture awards night. You’re riding high on the buzz of the evening and you’ve just seen your project up in lights. Whether you win, get a commendation or miss out on an award, what you have are the building blocks of a story, so why not ride the momentum?

Rather than just putting your project up on your website, now is the time to prepare your content for sharing with the journalists who can help tell your story. In fact, journalists love this time of year; because they know that an awards submission usually contains everything they need to write a great story.

What you have:

  1. Photography: You’ve likely just spent a chunk of money on getting some great photos taken of your project.
  2. The Story: Chances are you thought long and hard about what your project is all about and have put some of this into your awards entry. The 5 ‘W’s are all you really need.
  3. Currency: Your project is most likely new and exciting. If you’ve won an award, magazines and newspapers, websites and television programs will also see a validated project.

You might have been holding off on approaching writers and editors, but this is the perfect opportunity to put together a media kit (or a BowerKit). If you’re lucky enough to be a winner, you should shout it from the rooftops.

If you’ve got Instagram or any other social media you can instantly start sharing your ‘hero’ shots with your followers, who will like, and share, and comment.

Using your awards content as the basis of your ‘media kit’, you’ve actually done all the hard work. Make sure you have all your content in one place – whether that’s a PDF or Word Doc and a Dropbox folder of images or a BowerKit – then go ahead and share your project; you’ve literally got nothing to lose.


Have you got an awards entry you’d like to share with journalists? We’ll help you polish it up and create a BowerKit. You can then use BowerBird to share it with your favourite publications.

Just send us an email to support@bowerbird.io with your submission or project page on your site and we’ll get you set up.

 

Are ‘exclusives’ worth it?

Time and again, this question comes up when talking to our users and other architects and designers: ‘What is an exclusive, and is it worth it?’. So we thought it would be useful to revisit our post from last year.

Article Highlights:


If you’ve ever dealt with print media, chances are you’ve heard the term ‘exclusive’, even if you’ve never been asked for one yourself.

An ‘exclusive’ is an agreement between yourself and a publication that guarantees the publication first right to publish and/or an exclusion period before others can publish your project. So in other words, you’re giving the publication unique content for a set period of time. That’s quite valuable in today’s internet world where your project could ‘go viral’ online, hitting hundreds of websites. As such, an exclusive should be carefully considered.

Generally, exclusives are the domain of print media, and more specifically magazines, however some websites will also ask for exclusive first-publish rights. The question you should ask is ‘Is this worth it?’

Here are several things to consider:

How many people will see it?

As a general rule, exclusives make more sense when the publication has a large audience, but also one that’s harder to otherwise reach and valuable to you. For most architects this value will equate to a local audience with a high proportion of their ideal clients.

Some publications will have audited numbers which explain their audience size. You can ask the journalist or editor if they can provide these numbers and/or audience locations.

Who will see it?

One of the most important criteria for helping you to judge whether an exclusive is valuable to you is whether or not it will drive more clients to you.

If you publish in an industry publication, chances are you’ll have many of your colleagues throwing great kudos your way, but ultimately your future clients may never see it. Go for publications that will have the best readership for your practice.

If you’ve just designed a corporate headquarters for a large banking firm, an exclusive story in a glossy high-end business magazine with a readership of 1000 of the world’s top CEOs would be far more valuable than an architecture journal that goes to 10,000 architects.

Think about the kinds people who will actually see your project, not just the number.

What’s the offer?

Beyond readership and circulation, the publication might want to offer you some specific benefits in return for exclusive publication rights. This is where you can get more value from your project.

Some publications will simply offer you ‘a feature’. You should ask for more details to help you decide if it’s worth it to you.

Are there dangers for you and your practice?

Being asked for exclusive coverage in a magazine can help you to better tell the story of your project in a longer-format article, so there are some clear benefits.

However, you should think carefully about an exclusive when it could be detrimental to further stories on your project.

One example would be a ‘time-sensitive’ project, such as a pop-up bar, or the opening of a restaurant. If you were to agree to a 6-month exclusive period with a magazine (rare, but not unheard of), by the time you’re able to publish elsewhere, others may have lost interest.

Another example would be a new practice looking for extra work. Waiting four months before you can publish your first project online could mean four months without new work coming in.

Again, you should weigh this against the audience size and type to decide if it’s worth it for you.


Our Exclusivity Checklist

  • How many (more) people will see your project?
  • Are your future clients going to see it?
  • What is the exact date of publication?
  • When can you publish elsewhere?
  • How many words/pages/images will be published?
  • Where will the story appear in the publication?
  • Where will it appear in associated media channels (social media etc.)?
  • Will the publication link back to your website?

Some other things to take into account

  1. Online Publications: Online likes to be first, but it isn’t the most important thing to them. Taking an exclusive offer with a magazine generally won’t preclude the right project from being published extensively online and in other media.
  2. Wait for it: You don’t need to ask for an exclusive. Generally you will be approached for an exclusive by a publication, so you don’t need to offer exclusive publication unless asked.
  3. Be clear: Make sure the date of publication is very clear (get it in an email) and also be clear with the publication that if your project doesn’t appear where/when they have said, you reserve the right to publish elsewhere.
  4. Sometimes things change: Be aware that the world of magazines is a fluid and complex one. Sometimes a feature will be dropped to make room for an advertiser, or to give other features more breathing room. This means that your project could get ‘bumped’ to a future issue, even when you have an exclusive agreement. This is just part of the territory, and is something you should take into account as a possibility.
  5. Flexibility: A lot of architecture and design publications understand that your project might have audiences outside of theirs, and will often be happy for the project to be featured elsewhere even when an exclusive has been agreed. Always check with the publication to get a list of places you can/can’t publish.

When asking yourself if an exclusive agreement is worth it to you and your practice, remember why getting published is so important.

Why get my projects published?

Let me give you a hint. It’s not just an ego boost.

You might not necessarily feel that you want media. For some, getting published can seem a little vain; this idea of validation from a bunch of editors and/or your peers. Ultimately the decision to pursue media is a personal one, but there are some very solid business reasons why you need media, including these…


Exposure

John is sitting in his office. He has just completed work on his first project – a brilliant project, with very happy clients and a standout on the street. He had had a couple of calls from friends of this first client, but they’ve either not been ready to engage an architect, or just weren’t the right fit for John’s practice.

John could be waiting quite some time for the next call. Without getting media attention, John is really only casting his net as wide as referrals from friends of his first client. By getting published in the media, John widens the net, and increases the chances new clients will find him.

Think for example how many friends your last client has and, of those, how many your client will actually speak to about architecture, and then of those, how many will actually be ready and able to use your services. Chances are you’re looking at a very small pool of people, and a group that you might not necessarily be excited to work with.

Now imagine your project is featured in a capital city newspaper with 200,000 readers, even if there’s only an interest level of 0.5% you would end up with 1000 potential clients in that audience. Of those 1000 potential clients, even if 0.5% turned into clients over a two-year period, with 5 great clients you would be pretty happy.

Getting published can help raise your profile and bring in new work, and at the same time give confidence to any referrals you do get.


Diversifying/Developing Your Business

Jane’s practice has been going strong. Since starting ArchiJane Architecture 2 years ago, she has mainly found clients through word of mouth, family and friends. She has completed six extensions/renovations to existing homes and retail spaces, and was able to complete a full-service house design for an old friend.

Jane is proud of her work, but she really wants to do more full-service house projects. The trouble is, the only people that seem to call are referred to her through word of mouth and are only interested in extensions and smaller work.

Jane needs to get her excellent work on her first full-service project out into the media to show her capabilities and attract a new type of client (interested in commissioning full houses). By getting her house project published, she raises the profile of her practice as one that is doing brilliant houses, not just extensions and renovations.

There are many other reasons that getting media attention could be useful to your business, but it will almost always come down to finding new, and more interesting clients.


If you’ve got a completed project on your website and you’d like us to set up a BowerKit – everything a journo needs to publish your story – send us an email here and include a link to your project webpage. We’ll set you up and get you underway.

Who you should send your projects to…

The most common question we get asked when talking to architects about getting published is ‘Who should I share my projects with?’

We know that there are as many different ways of getting your story out there as there are stories to be told. And that can be confusing, and a little bit daunting. What you really need is to find the right journalists for your project.

We also appreciate that not everyone knows who they should be contacting, in what order or where they should be looking, so here are some tips.

Who’s Who?

The most important part about understanding ‘the media’ is getting to know the publications, and the journalists who contribute to them and edit them. You can easily find editors and journalists on social media (Instagram is a great one for architecture and design journos) or handy apps like this one.

It’s worth connecting with journalists now, as you’ll get a sense of their interests and content without having to rush out and buy every copy of their magazine.

The Right Fit

Make sure you’re sending editors projects that fit their publication. For example, you wouldn’t send a recently completed school project to Houses Magazine (the title of this mag gives some clues as to what they’re looking for, but Katelin Butler has the specifics for you here). Once you’ve found the publications you think fit your work, you can then submit your projects to them.

Acknowledging their publication when contacting journalists is always beneficial (e.g. ‘I loved the beach house special issue last month, Alice’), as it shows that you’re engaged and you understand the content, but it’s not crucial.

Timing is Everything

We have a simple recommendation for the order in which you contact editors. It’s what we call ‘fast to slow’.

The logic is that you should start with fast publications (Instagram feeds, Blogs) that get your project out there in small digital bites, and move on to slower media (Magazines, Books, TV) as time goes on; where more in-depth stories will be told. The only exception to this is Newspapers (and news-driven publications), as they have potential throughout the media cycle – from ‘New School Opens’ to ‘Local School Project Goes Viral’.

While it’s not a concrete rule ‘fast to slow’ is a good little framework for you to share your work with journalists.

In short:

Who do I contact? Know the editors and their publications and choose the ones that fit your project

In what order? Fast to slow media

Where do I look? Social media and BowerBird are a good start


Of course, BowerBird makes all the above as simple as a few clicks, allowing you to follow journalists and create press kits (BowerKits as we call them). On top of this we have created our ‘Find publications’ tool – curated lists tailored to your project, which tell you who to send to and in what order. A handy little feature.

Get your exclusive BowerBird invitation here.

 

Empowering creative people to tell their stories

One of the first architects that Nic and I helped out with getting published sat on her project for almost 12 months before putting it out to the world. The moment the project was shared with just a couple of journalists it went completely viral. The house has now been published over 1000 times, from websites and magazines to books, newspapers and even television.

That’s because the story is a fantastic one. But it languished for so many months with little more than a tweet and the architect’s web page to show for it. It’s amazing untold stories like this one that we’re trying to uncover through BowerBird – and we know there a literally thousands of them out there.

We want to empower creative people to tell their stories.

In simple terms, we’re talking about two groups: those with stories to share (architects and other creatives) and those with the means to share them (journalists and editors).

At the end of the day we want more stories – and better stories – to be told. Our approach can be summed up in three words ‘connect’, ‘collaborate’, and ‘communicate’.


Connect

Journalists can often find it difficult to find new and exciting ideas for stories. The burden is on them to hunt out stories for their publications. When you consider the number of projects that are completed each year, they should be like pigs in mud, but actually connecting with architects can be difficult.

We’re trying to make those connections easier by providing a place for journalists and creatives to connect with each other, so when a good project comes up, you can develop stories together.

Collaborate

No project is created in isolation. There are sometimes literally thousands of different interactions with hundreds of different people before a project is completed, and even more before it finally gets published. We believe that, to tell better stories, journalists need to know all the relevant people involved in the project. This could be anything from the builder to the product suppliers, the design team to the photographer.

We allow all these people to become part of the community, to help link them into the story – also ensuring everyone is singing from the same hymnbook when telling the project’s story.

Communicate

Lastly, in order for the deeper stories to be told, journalists need the ability to communicate with creatives. Our aim is to move away from a formal email setting, to improve communication between everyone on BowerBird. To do this, we’ve created a quick messaging system that ties conversations to projects, ensuring communication is relevant and beneficial to journalists and creatives alike.


To tell great stories there needs to be a genuine connection between journalists and the creative work they crave. By helping architects to connect directly with journalists, we’re removing the seemingly ‘dark art’ of getting published. More importantly, we’re empowering creatives and independent journalists to tell creative stories, and share big ideas.

If you’ve got a project story you’d like to share with journalists, send us a link to your website project page and we’ll set you up with a starter BowerKit.

 

Simple Storytelling for Architects and Designers

Okay, so we use this word ‘storytelling’ a lot. It’s probably been overused, but for us it’s a really great way of distinguishing between ‘marketing’ and genuine stories.

For architects and designers, telling the story of a project can be daunting. But remember, you’ve got an ally in a journalist. They’re trained to tell your story in a way that people can connect with. Your job is simply to explain to them what’s unusual or interesting about the project.

If you’ve ever read a book on writing, or marketing, you’ll see a common recommendation of using storytelling to explain ‘your thing’. The rationale is that our brains are wired to connect with stories and, therefore, you can explain complex ideas through a ‘narrative’.

In this post – a recap on our earlier post on the subject – we’re going to show you how to describe your project and to create a basic story structure.


Telling your story doesn’t have to be hard

You already know the story of your project (you’ve lived it). It just helps to have a structure. We think this one works really well:

Project Brief

This is where you get to use your client’s words to your benefit. Literally explain what they came to you with:

“The client owned an existing home between two heritage buildings. Their family was growing and they needed a bigger building. Rather than relocate they decided to investigate what could be done with their existing home…”

Challenges of the Brief

This is where you can highlight the difficulties of the project, as no project is straightforward:

“One of the hardest things about this project was the small size of the site. We needed to design a building that would accommodate far more, but without a major increase in the building volume…”

Your Solution

This is where you get to show off your skills. You should explain how you tackled ‘the challenge’ and met the client’s brief:

“We approached the design much like a boat. We knew the envelope of the building was fixed and it was all about getting as much out of every square metre that we could, which included using oversized stairs as extra living space and clever storage in walls and floor cavities…”

One of the benefits of using this approach is that by starting off with the Project Brief you end up using the client’s words and avoid ‘archi-speak’. The second benefit is that the Challenges and Solutions explain the value of using an architect. The bigger the challenge the more valuable you are. And lastly, all three aspects are factual questions and you don’t need to be a great writer to make it work – leave that to the journos.


Try telling the story of one of your recent projects. Jot down some notes on the ‘Brief’, list two ‘Challenges’, then a few sentences on your ‘Solutions’. Feel free to send this through to us here if you’ve got any questions.