Fresh eyes

Do architects need PR people?

do architects need pr people
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Written by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

I attended a recent RIBA event and unsurprisingly got chatting to an architect about PR. “I don’t need PR,” he said. He added: “My work sells itself. If I design a great building, it is there forever, a permanent advert.” I think somewhere in all that there is a valid point. That being, out of all the professions, architects are sitting on gold in terms of PR collateral.

New buildings improve landscapes, communities and lives – and in the process drive huge interest.

With its specialist built environment PR team, Freshfield has managed the communications affairs of architects for many years. And in a profession (PR) where we fight hard to unearth great stories and positive messages, handling the PR for architects is a joy. A PR dream in some cases.

But many architects rarely get the credit they deserve for their work. And I don’t just refer to headline public realm projects. I refer to jobs such as social housing schemes, schools, commercial buildings.

With almost any new building, comes media attention. It’s great news. It therefore presents opportunities for those associated with the building to gain recognition and positive profile: the commissioner, the builder, the people who will occupy the building and of course… the architect. But more often than not, the architect fails to ensure they get a strong share of voice.

And let’s not just think of the media. Designing a great building creates a multitude of opportunities for architects to communicate their message. I name five for starters…

  1. Media coverage at various stages of development: planning approval, start on site, site nears completion, site launch.
  2. Gaining profile in sector / trade publications, for example education press if it is a school project.
  3. Entering awards if it has a unique feature, such as energy and environmental.
  4. Reuse of photography on website and social media channels.
  5. Creation of case study (print and video) to be issued to potential clients and placed on website.

The traditional structure of architecture practices means in-house PR roles are quite rare. Therefore, an external consultancy can be a great solution.

Designing a building is one thing. Ensuring you gain full recognition of your work is another. That is where good PR firms can really help.

So my friend, architects do need PR people. But as you bought me a pint, I won’t hold it against you!

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