13 November 2006
Linda Fisher, Design Management Resources
Linda Fisher, Design Management Resources

As public relations specialists, Design Management Resources focuses all of our expertise on achieving the right kind of media exposure for our design firm clients. Most of our clients begin working with us by hiring us to create Living Marketing Plans. The natural progression is to then take our clients' firms new positioning and to integrate it into their websites.

Design firm principals who are aiming high--to be counted among the
leaders in the industry--understand that PR without an underlying
strategic marketing plan is ineffective. They know that their marketing
strategy must extend to their website copy. Read: electronic marketing.
Now they are ready for public relations.

Since Design Management Resources has garnered a great deal of experience in our exclusive work with design firms over the past few years, we thought it an ideal time to share some of our insights into what works, and what doesn't. And to underscore the value of true collaboration between design firm principals and PR professionals.

Our policy is to collaborate closely with our clients, on all of the
projects we undertake. We compile PR credentials for our client firms.
Whether we are seeking media placement of press releases and articles
about their work and underlying philosophies and methodologies, or
speaking opportunities at conferences for our firms' principals--credentials must be compiled. We rely on the absolute veracity of all of the materials submitted to us, because we want to represent our clients to our media contacts, and the world, in a truthful, accurate manner.

Fortunately, we generally receive great material to work with. We are then able to bring out the strong positioning and differentiating factors that make our clients stand out among design firms. We feel that great design firm work, underpinned by great underlying strategies, experience and knowledge speak for themselves. That is, insights on issues such as
corporate brand initiatives and brand standards, effective brand
communications, building brand equity, brand revitalization, brand
management and brand globalization are just some of the core capabilities we bring to light about our clients. This "intellectual knowledge" is intended to resonate with the corporate world, our clients' prospective clients. This is especially powerful when targeted to specific industry sectors.

On occasion, we have received information from clients that we found, in
retrospect, was not quite accurate. We want to take this opportunity to
address PR issues and make some points with our readers. First of all, we
only want to work with accurate details from our clients. Believe us, we
can find your firm's core strengths and make you shine to the media--without hyperbole. Secondly, many of you will recall how we
scrambled to become tech savvy when the computer age was born. An adage was born along with it that came to signify how effective this new
technology could be. "Garbage in, garbage out. Good stuff in, good stuff
out." In short: the output you got from your computer depended on how good your input was. The same is true of PR. The best media articles, and conference presentations, come from the most accurate source material.

Design Management Resources has many industry contacts and connections. We have seen how inaccurate representations of design firms in the media, have come back to haunt those businesses. Reputation is everything. It takes years for design firms to grow in size and stature--and to build their reputations. It takes one inaccurate, overblown bit of media exposure to lose that reputation. Our assessment: it simply isn't worth it.

Stop and think: if you hire a PR firm, whether that firm is Design
Management Resources or not, do you think you will gain in the long run if you aren't scrupulous about the information you share with your PR
partner? Stop and think: won't your competitors, and worse, your clients
past and present, find out about your inaccurate representations in the
press? What about the consequences of that? What about public perception? Remember what author ( "In Search Of Excellence") and marketing guru Tom Peters said: "Perception Is Everything."

So what is the true value of PR? Public relations, expertly handled,
singles out your design firm from among thousands of firms, and all of
your competitors, and makes a star of it. The secret of the best PR is in
the placement. Once we have a strategic marketing plan in place, we have an assessment of your firm's true mission and positioning. With
positioning, we have targeted industries in mind. These targeted industries are full of potential clients who read specific publications--in print and online. We know what these are, and we make contact with these publications' editors, once we have written articles tailored for their readers. We also seek out general business and branding publications for our clients, since they have a wide subscription base that includes our clients' key publics.

A tremendous amount of work and research is done prior to any articles
being written. Editors trust us to deliver factual, quality articles to them. They may choose to use them as written, or dissect them, using specific quotes and examples to integrate into articles that their staff writers are writing. Whatever they choose to do, they must deliver solid, factual information also. Our goal is to have a case study of our client's work highlighted, an insightful business quote from the firm's principal, and contact information about him and his firm. Attaining these goals,  requires solid negotiating skills as well. Editors are sensitive to articles being misconstrued as advertising. But, what value is an article in building your business if it does not have contact information.

Some of the largest design firms in the world continue to ensure and
increase their visibility. They do so by employing a well-known PR  technique. They place their published press releases and articles on their
websites--the most current ones go on their home pages--the rest on
dedicated "Press" pages on their sites. Design firms use the articles as
marketing pieces--sending them out to clients--past, current and  prospective. They understand that the residual value of PR builds over
time. Well-written articles on core subjects do not become dated. Rather,
they are always timely, and can be reprinted, and sent out to more
potential clients over time.

Some design firm principals feel that if an article is published about
their work, their ideas, their methodology, their business insights--it
should bring in immediate new business. PR does not work that way. Very few of your potential clients are ready to pounce on a design firm they read about in an article with a fully-budgeted project in hand. However,  corporate buyers do take notice. Many of them tell us that they will file the article, and pull it out when they do have a project or share it with colleagues interested in a referral. The more the corporate buyers, in a specific industry sector, see articles about your firm over time, the better. This is what builds your firm's stature, and the "must work with that design firm" mentality in the minds of corporate buyers. When these buyers' new annual budgets are set, who do you think they are going to call?

Another thing about good PR: it builds credentials for the design firms
who use this powerful tool. Design firms who use effective PR slowly build trust with a large number of prospective clients. That, in turn, leads to more qualified projects. Larger projects. The ability to raise, and get,
higher fees. More profitable revenue. And isn't that a shared goal for all
design firms?

Once articles appear in print about your design firm, they are yours
forever. Think about that. What lasting, lingering impressions do you want to make about your design firm? Perhaps, how your firm helped the client attain their goals.

Thanks to Claire Ratushny

About Design Management Resources

Design Management Resources provides strategic marketing, consulting, and public relations to design firms who are leaders or aim to be around the world.