Build your Architecture Practice with PR
London is a city world-renowned for its architecture. From traditional to contemporary, art deco to gothic, there are hundreds of great buildings in the capital. And behind every great piece of design and architecture, there’s a host of great stories waiting to be told: stories about people, innovations, challenges and experience. It’s these stories that make for great architecture PR.
Make yourself newsworthy
A good PR agent will make it their business to share your name, work and story with the world by instituting a tailor-made communications strategy that focuses the spotlight on your firm.
A PR agent can help you establish a strong media profile, which is increasingly important in the awarding of design jobs, as competition increases and institutions purposely seek out ‘star’ designers and architects for prize commissions.
Dame Zaha Hadid
Having been appointed to design the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympic Games, the Guangzhou Opera House in China and the Qatar World Cup Stadium, Dame Zaha Hadid is most definitely an architect with star quality. She’s risen to global superstar status, having initially been dismissed as an eccentric ‘paper architect’ – someone whose designs look great, but are impossible to build.
But with the help of a savvy PR team, she’s reinvented herself. She’s been positioned as a tough, no-nonsense entrepreneur, who is constantly pushing boundaries. Not only has she made it to the top of an industry dominated by men, but her daring designs have earned her respect in architecture circles, and a slew of prestigious awards, including the highly coveted Pritzker Prize – the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in architecture.
Everything she does is newsworthy, and it’s largely due to her PR team, who’ve helped her establish a strong media profile and positive reputation.
Foster & Partners
PR can also help you get your side of the story across when things go wrong.
On Saturday 10 June 2000, London’s Millennium Bridge and lead architects Foster & Partners made headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. On opening day, in the full glare of the media spotlight, thousands of pedestrians crowded on to the bridge, causing it to sway rhythmically from side to side.
Nobody was hurt, and there was no danger of collapse, but the bridge had to be closed after three days, and remained closed for 18 months.
Lead architects Foster and Partners were struggling to cope with the torrent of phone calls, request for interviews, and demands for an explanation. TV companies wanted sound bites and national newspapers were looking for strong, simple angles – who’s to blame? Who’s going to pay?
Using the PR Machine
Foster’s PR machine sprang into action. The company took ownership of the problem, while explaining that they could not have predicted the problems with the bridge’s sway, as they had followed all the relevant standards and guidelines. Lord Foster publicly apologised, admitting that the problem had caught them out, and that they would be conducting extensive tests to ensure the bridge was safe before re-opening it.
This quick and honest response won Foster & Partners favour with the media, as did the fact that they kept the media updated with their progress.
After rigorous testing, Lord Foster attracted yet more publicity with the news that the wobble was due to a previously unrecorded phenomena dubbed ‘synchronous lateral excitation,’ whereby the natural sway motion of people walking caused small sideways oscillations in the bridge, which in turn caused people on the bridge to sway in step, increasing the amplitude of the bridge oscillations and continually reinforcing the effect.
Eighteen months later, some 2,000 volunteers carried out the final tests of Foster’s anti-wobble retrofit. Rather than shun the inevitable media interest, he turned the tests into a cross between a family picnic and a public relations event, confident that the success of the tests would go a long way to banishing the wobbly bridge stain from its reputation.
It worked. A few weeks later, the saga concluded with the premiere of a specially commissioned orchestral work at the Festival Hall.