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why don't architects know how to work the media?

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ericharch, you completely missed my point. I DO NOT feel the need to market "the value and principles of "architecture" to society." If I were marketing, however, it would be to market the value and principles of "Quondam Architecture" to society.

May 19, 05 1:22 pm  · 
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both are probably necessary: individual marketing of the architect and a greater awareness of 'the values and principles of architecture'.

the example of gehry above is interesting and begins to show a potential direction > architect with publicist reaches the mainstream > BUT the situation would probably have been different if it had been his house that was published instead of his chairs. the general public wouldn't have been ready for the house.

May 19, 05 1:28 pm  · 
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ericharch

Quondam Architecture? As in your website? Maybe I missed somthing, but I don't see how that relates to the discussion. But you seem to have the idea of self-promotion down :)

May 19, 05 1:34 pm  · 
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Just remain mindful of the disticntion between publicity and marketing. Granted, any publicity today boils down to marketing (like what isn't product placement anymore?), but, if I were marketing, I'd make damn sure that it is MY "values and principles" that the target audience takes note of and remembers. Why should I waste my time marketing architecture in general, which boils down to marketing all architects. That would be like advertising for the competition, wouldn't it?

May 19, 05 1:43 pm  · 
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ericharch, you really don't get it, do you?

The question of this discussion is: "why don't architects know how to work the media?"

It now seems clear to me that architects don't know how to work the media because they don't see that "self promotion" is basically all that "working the media" is about.

May 19, 05 1:51 pm  · 
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ericharch

I see what you are getting at. No, Rita it is you that doesn't get it. We are a PROFESSION. Individual marketing and self promotion is definitely importatnt, but our individual practices can only be as strong as the profession as a whole. Rem Koolhaas himself has given lectures about how little money he makes -- especially considering that he is one of the top starchitects.

We are limited in how far we can grow when even the best architects aren't making much money and can't afford to pay their workers good salaries. The key is to market our values and principles to society to create more demand ofr our indicidual services. The only way that we can do this is by working together towards this common goal.

May 19, 05 2:01 pm  · 
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"...if I were marketing, I'd make damn sure that it is MY 'values and principles' that the target audience takes note of and remembers."

Agreed. And I probably shouldn't have borrowed the 'values and principles' line from erich. I'm less concerned with marketing anyone's particular values or principles and more concerned with promoting attention to the built environment IN GENERAL. If that means marketing/publicity of specific architects likely to create a ripple, so be it.

Around here it's apparent that people have opinions about what they like and why, but they don't have a context in which to understand it. Thus we get preservation efforts that will fight for unlovely landmarks to historic events and we get support for the demolition of wonderful architectural artifacts simply because of their unpopular tenants. We get new commercial 'architecture' with pasted on arches heralded as 'future landmarks', a new award given by the local historical society, despite the fact that these are set in the middle of parking lots and are 10yr lifespan buildings.

May 19, 05 2:02 pm  · 
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mauOne™

i agree with the rita

but self promotion as a body of professsionals is as important as self prromotion as individuals

May 19, 05 2:03 pm  · 
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ericharch

Listen, our lack of organization and common goals is precisely the reason why we have trouble marketing our services. We are a classic example of a "circular firing squad", as displayed by Rita's comment: "Why should I waste my time marketing architecture in general, which boils down to marketing all architects. That would be like advertising for the competition, wouldn't it?"

May 19, 05 2:11 pm  · 
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mauOne™

our organizations should market us as a body

we should self promote, both efforts will show results someday

May 19, 05 2:14 pm  · 
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ericharch

Exactly Mau. We need to do both in order to succeed.

May 19, 05 2:17 pm  · 
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mwad

We need a campaign alogn the lines of 'Beef, its whats for dinner' or the milk mustache campaign

Ideas anyone?

May 19, 05 2:22 pm  · 
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st.

getting TO the people is only one part of it (and maybe the easiest part). making your market respond to what you are saying is far more difficult. most architects are very poor at describing WHY architecture is important. just look back over this discussion and note how many times phrases like "promoting attention to the built environment", "the importance of design over simple construction", "teaching society to see architecture the way we do"--it's precisely these broad, empty statements that bore the bejesus out of people. i realize that this topic isn't specifically about detailing architecture's significance, but look at the content of the entire archinect forum--it's mostly the same general statements. it's relatively easy to find potential clients, but, when found, architects don't know what to say to them or how to say it.

May 19, 05 2:26 pm  · 
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ericharch

St, you are absolutely right. However, my point is that not all architects can even agree on those broad statements. Hell, just look at the exchange I just had with Rita!

To me, creating that common goal and agreeing on broad ideas for all of us to unite around is only the first step towards getting the message out. We all need to get on the same page before we can get bogged down with specifics.

But you are right, these issues have to be addressed.

May 19, 05 2:34 pm  · 
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st.

but we all agree that architects are important.

now, why.

May 19, 05 2:37 pm  · 
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abracadabra

2 architects walk into the bar,
1 says, i want a drink to promote 'architecture', here is my two cents.
the other 1 says, i want drink to promote 'my architecture', here is 10 bucks.
bartender turns to first one and says, 'get the fuck outa here.'
moral;
yes, if all the architects contributed 2 cents it would be more than 10 bucks, but, bartender hates pennies and not interested to comp just anybody..

May 19, 05 2:38 pm  · 
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e

ericharch, the sum of the whole is only equal to it's parts. if all architects promoted themselves, they would not have to rely on the failed approaches of an organiztion for the whole. personally, i would prefer to speak for myself so that i can control that voice and target the ppl that i want to work with and not rely on someone to it for me.

would microsoft promote the importance of all software? i don't think so. they promote the importance of microsoft's product/offering only. sure in that speak there is discussion of what software can do for you, how it can make your life easier, and how it can make your life more efficient, but it is still fundamentally about microsoft's software.

May 19, 05 2:40 pm  · 
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st.

it seems premature to fight for the podium when you don't know what you're gonna say.

a poorly presented idea is sometimes more damaging than no idea.

May 19, 05 2:40 pm  · 
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you'd be right about the generality of our comments, st., if it was the general public we were talking to. we're in a conversation of peers, here > while i'd say 'attention to the built environment' here, when i'm conducting a walking tour with a group (which i do) we talk about specifics.

with a group of high school students - we walked a town and asked questions:

'why does the sidewalk end here?' - a discussion of what happens when you move from a wealthy neighborhood to one with less influence.

'how to do walk to a store?' - understanding that there is no way to walk 1/2 mile in a suburban neighborhood without walking in the street.

'when was this town at its peak?' - in a town cemetery, where the attention and investment to monuments can closely parallel the town's economic conditions.

questions like this, in addition to specific questions about the elements of individual buildings ('what do shutters do?', 'why is there a hole in that building - and why is there blue foam in there?', 'what kind of building is that? > how does it tell you it's a school?), can increase people's awareness of what is built through their asking of questions. even if they don't know the answer, they can speculate and have a fuller understanding of why things are the way they are.

and then dryvit and plastic shutters and drywall arches make less sense. and, soon enough, they start to 'get' what architects are doing. and none of their bejesus has been bored out of them.

May 19, 05 2:43 pm  · 
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st.

sw--
so you think that architects, as a group, do an adequate job of explaining their own importance?

May 19, 05 2:47 pm  · 
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ericharch

E, Microsoft invests millions of dollars each year in putting computers in elementary schools and high schools across the country. Why? Because in the long run, these kids will grow up and know the computer inside and out. Sure Microsoft benefits, but so does Adobe, and Google, and Yahoo and all the rest of the software companies who compete to get their software on thsoe machines. It is not that black and white... it is all interconnected.

May 19, 05 2:50 pm  · 
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e

it is all interconnected. you are correct, but they put those computers in schools part as good will and part as to get them on MS products early on. you better believe they are stacked with MS apps and not their compeitors.

i guess if i were you, i would rely more on convincing ppl what you have to offer, why ppl need it, what you can do for them, than trying to convince the public at large that they need architects. do the former first and the latter last. both are important, but i think one is fundamentally more important to you, your offering and your ability to convince ppl that they need to hire you as their architect. at least that is the way i think about my business.

May 19, 05 2:58 pm  · 
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st. - no, not as a group. that, in the end, is partly what this discussion is about, isn't it? whether we use media or not, we don't do a good job in general of telling our story. probably because most of us are too busy or don't care. there are lots of overworked, jaded architects. those of us likely to discuss things on archinect are the ones who can make a difference, maybe?

there's another slant this discussion could take, though. it would be great if the work, rather than our words, could do the trick. but we've found that when the local paper or the local business journal here run an article about a building, it's nearly impossible to get them to remember to list the architect's name. often the only place you'll find the architect is in the illustration credit at the bottom of a picture (sometimes not even there). even though they'll list the client, the contractor, and even the real estate agent - and talk in detail about the design of the building. some of us have been talking to the papers about this and it's getting a little better...

ericharch - this is a great idea, one we're exploring here. the local chapter of the aia has been arranging with local middle schools to have local professionals come into classrooms and talk about what architects do and to introduce some very general concepts. we're thinking about how to introduce it to elementary schools as well.

May 19, 05 3:05 pm  · 
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st.

yep.

May 19, 05 3:09 pm  · 
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Philadelphia even has an architecture high school (or at least I assume it's still in existence), but the topic here is "working the media" and marketing, not education, per say.

I wasn't kidding when I wrote that it would be awesome to see pixelwhore pimping HOT ROD ARCHITECTURE in a commercial. Would this commercial need something like the AIA promoting architecture as well? I don't think so. Would this commercial need something like walking tours and grade school presentations promoting architecture as well? I don't think so.

st. is right about specifically knowing what to market, and here the notion of having a brand, albeit not absolutely necessary, nonetheless helps.

Maybe some of the problem stems from the (educated?) notion that architecture is some sort of homogeneous product (like milk or beef), where, in reality, architecture is extremely diverse in its many manifestations. Maybe what the public really needs is to see how many architectures are really available to them.

May 19, 05 3:36 pm  · 
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yes, but how do you make it seem impt to them to care? pixelwhore pimping hot rod architecture might work. at least as well as rem doing it. but what if paris or brad were doing it? THEN you'd make people notice. the facetious comments near the beginning of this post make some sense.

trump isn't getting noticed in the wtc thing solely because he's a successful developer. if that were the case we would have seen more of silverstein's opinions by now. it's because trump's a celebrity. if he gives something the stamp of approval people will decide whether they agree, but at least they'll pay attention. and they'll think it's impt.

May 19, 05 3:51 pm  · 
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abracadabra
architecture stamps

,37 cents.

May 19, 05 4:06 pm  · 
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The point of marketing is not to "get them to care," it's to get them to buy the product!

Just heard on the radio that Kelly Drive is closed because of the Stotesbury Regata on the Schuylkill River. And how about Bo Bice being from Helena, Alabama? I thought it was enough just having Constantine Maroulis as one of the popular contestants. It be great to have them promote Quondam Architecture.

May 19, 05 4:09 pm  · 
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my product is better when there is a knowledgeable and engaged client. if i've sold my services, but my client is a dud, it will be a struggle to do anything of merit.

i don't want them to 'buy the product' unless i can be in a position to provide a product i think is good. this is where i think marketing architecture is different from other marketing. we have a responsibility to ourselves and to the public realm.

so our marketing may take the form of service on planning commission or review boards, positions on building/grounds committees for some group, service in accessibility advocacy groups, or other. the glossy brochure has limited reach. it's through things like community involvement - meeting as broad a public as possible - and through publication (newspaper, periodical, whatever) that we can show our value. and if we can still get beck to do that song...

i love architecture stamps.

May 19, 05 4:29 pm  · 
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Steven, you just wrote the perfect commercial for youself:

"Hi, I'm Steven Ward, Architect. I don't want you to buy my product unless I can be in position to provide a product I think is good. This is where I think marketing architecture is different from other marketing. I [notice the "We" changed to "I" because you don't want to come off as being so pompous as to think you can speak for all architects] have a responsibility to myself and to the public realm."

As to the rest, that's advocacy and volunteering, and really should not be confused with "working the media" and marketing.

May 19, 05 4:47 pm  · 
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i do believe that 'we' have a responsibility to ourselves and to the public realm. the change in pronoun was intentional.

'the ethical architect' by tom spector - good book.

May 19, 05 5:04 pm  · 
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ericharch

Looks like a good book Steven. This line from the book summary is a good start to get people to understand what we do everyday:

"Spector estimates that more than 100,000 decisions go into the design of an average sized building."

If people realized how many little decisions go into a building, they would be much more likley to hire and architect to coordinate it all.

May 19, 05 5:20 pm  · 
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ericharch

An AIA TV commercial showing a half built house:

"Approximately 100,000 decisions go into the design of an average sized building... we deal with them, so you don't have to."

Or something along those lines.

May 19, 05 5:27 pm  · 
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i wonder what an average sized building is?

and was that a scrubbing bubbles reference? nice.

May 19, 05 5:29 pm  · 
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Steven, I certainly hope that you are not suggesting that an architect that does not think it necessary for something like the AIA to promote architecture via the media before they themselve market their services via the media is somehow or other an unethical architect. Likewise, I certainly hope that you are not suggesting that an architect that markets their services via the media all by themselves are then somehow or other not "responsible to themselves or the public realm."

May 19, 05 5:48 pm  · 
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i'm not a member currently of aia and i have nothing against architects marketing themselves. i was merely reacting to your positing of 'buy the product' as the endgame. (personally, i can get plenty of work. my marketing has to take into account getting the work i want and that i think will be good work in a broader sense than simply a commodity.)

i'm saying that we're not just selling to a client, we're making proposals that affect the public realm. we are responsible to ourselves in that we must do the best work that we can, not settling for what the client thinks is good enough. we are responsible to the public in that our client is seldom the only user; our projects are out in the world. so we must 'market' with this in mind.

marketing can be thought of as an umbrella term for getting your name out there and building a reputation. whether or not you want to consider them so, advocacy and volunteering are good marketing tools. so are writing books, getting your name in the paper, supporting named scholarships, underwriting public radio, and advertising.

equally useful is building a market - this is what ericharch was addressing earlier. getting the general public into a discussion of their city, architecture, landscape, etc. builds a consciousness about the built environment, as does more formal education about architecture, writing in general circulation papers and mags, and talking to kids. all these efforts can ultimately build a market for architecture among those who would currently settle for builders and butler structures.

May 19, 05 6:13 pm  · 
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ericharch

I don't think he is saying that at all, Rita. I think you are just arguing 2 separate issues.

Self promotion is a given. No one is saying that is it wrong at all. Self-Promotion is virtually the only marketing tool architects currently have to rely on and of course we will all have to continue our self-promotion. But this discussion seems to be about what we can do in addition -- what we can do as a group or a profession to promote all of us as a whole to supplement that. Our individual self promotion reaches other individuals... our group promotion can reach the masses and affect public perception of architects, and that is just as important.

May 19, 05 6:19 pm  · 
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The reason I positioned "buy the product" as the endgame is because you very much implied that architects marketing themselves would not or could not "make [architecture] seem impt to them [the public] to care." You seem to overall assume that "the product" an architect markets for him or herself is somehow going to be insufficient or even detrimental to architecture as a whole.

If by chance you dislike the notion of HOT ROD ARCHITECTURE and the advertising by an architect of such, that doesn't mean that there shouldn't be HOT ROD ARCHITECTURE, or there shouldn't be architects doing it, or even that there shouldn't be clients that want it.

May 19, 05 6:40 pm  · 
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e

for starters you will have to one up extreme home makeover.

May 19, 05 6:41 pm  · 
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ericharch, that's why I brought up the diversities of architectures issue. If there were more architects self promoting their particular "brand" of architectural service, then the public at learge would be much better informed as to what is actually available to them via architectural services.

May 19, 05 6:46 pm  · 
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e, you're right. EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION is very much promoting architectural services via the media. And don't the HOME CHANNEL (or whatever it's called). Let's hope architect's are at least more creative.

I have to go cut my lawn now before it rains.

May 19, 05 6:51 pm  · 
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dwell home on fine living is good, too. whatever you're attitude about dwell as an architecture magazine, the show is a good respite from all of the other fix-your-house-in-fifteen-minutes shows.

May 19, 05 6:59 pm  · 
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trace™

wow, that did take some digging!

Nov 2, 11 12:17 am  · 
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Gehry does, with a single finger. About the only thing he ever did that I like.

Feb 7, 15 9:43 am  · 
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Larchinect

I think all of the design professions could be more involved with their local community--help implement 'democratic design' by helping shape and change land use code and form.

Contrarily, most young architects leave school with a strong desire to create object buildings. 99% of people cant afford this type of architecture. 

I guess what Im saying is the design professions could do a better job of participating and raising the level of design in their own communities. In my opinion, anything we can do to expand our collective market by making good design more accessible is the best marketing.

Otherwise, I look at marketing, branding, advertising, social media, etc as an extension of our work--its all communication.

Feb 7, 15 3:42 pm  · 
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Volunteer all you want, it's all driven by money.

Feb 7, 15 5:30 pm  · 
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Carrera

Funny, remember attending a national AIA convention in the late 80's and they had a display table with something new on it - brochures. That was just 30+ years ago, marketing was verboten.... we were not allowed to even put our Yellow Page listing in bold print... still that way. Today only a handful of firms in my 400k town even have websites.

The reason only 10% use Real architects isn't money... I can do a simple award winning scored face CMU strip center for less than a Dryvit decorated developer version.... its because we haven't really even attempted to educate the public on what we do. If you only talk to 10% you're only going to get 10%.

Believe that twice a year every Rotary Club meeting in the country should have an architect speaker.... if you don't explain it, nobody is going to understand it.... if you don't sell it, nobody is going to buy it.

Feb 8, 15 10:41 am  · 
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curtkram

why would architects in your area not have websites?  do they still think fax machines make communication easier?  or that diazo prints are easier than pdfs?

websites aren't just commercials.  seriously, this internet thing is going to catch on...

Feb 8, 15 11:05 am  · 
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Carrera

Curt, mystery to me. Speaking of fax machines, ever tried contacting an architect? Hard to find a website with a simple “click” contact button to a live person….have to comb the whole site looking for an email and usually end up with one of those text boxes that you have to fill in or “Info@” email addresses that nobody monitors…..even Miles has this. Just as difficult by phone, can’t even find a phone number, hell Miles doesn’t even list one on his website….nobody does. What are architects afraid of? Don’t think architects have fax machines anymore mostly because they’re afraid somebody will send them something. Think it goes back to this idea of comparing ourselves to doctors – doctors are a necessity – we’re not.

Fineprint, I never had a problem with "selling" myself because I was told early that no one else will.

Feb 8, 15 12:12 pm  · 
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Carrera

Fineprint - answer is "retired", just looking back - observing - helping.

Feb 8, 15 12:26 pm  · 
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