How the Niagara Region used Fellowship to raise the profile of architects
By John Raimondo, MRAIC, and Ian Ellingham, FRAIC
Only a few decades ago, marketing was a dirty word in most professions, but now one sees the faces of lawyers on the back of buses. Architects need to be heard too. Their stories are compelling, and their work affects people everyday.
An opportunity presented itself on June 25, when the RAIC announced the names of the 41 men and women who would be inducted into the RAIC College of Fellows in 2019. Among them was Emilio Raimondo, FRAIC, of Niagara Falls, ON.
The RAIC publicized the list with a media release sent to journalists in the cities and towns of the new Fellows.
The Niagara Society of Architects took the initiative to amplify the efforts of the RAIC. In the Niagara region, it was apparent that there was an opportunity to use the award of a Fellowship to one architect to benefit all architects in the area.
We developed a press release to complement that of the RAIC. It gave the local media enough material to build a story about the recipient, the award, and about architects and architecture in the area. We also followed up with calls to local journalists to stimulate their interest.
In our experience, a key factor is having someone contact the media and be persistent. It is a good story, as, certainly outside of the big cities, the award of a Fellowship is not an everyday occurrence.
- There were articles in all the major local newspapers, including the leading widely-circulated free weekly.
- The recipient and the chair of the local society were contacted by the local radio station to do a session on architecture and architectural practice.
- The recipient received phone calls from numerous past and present clients, relatives, acquaintances, and local politicians.
- Interest and appreciation of local architecture firms rose in the community.
Tips for generating local media coverage:
- This is not just about the recipient. It is an opportunity to enhance and develop the profession of architecture.
- Prepare your activities in advance.
- Appoint someone persistent to contact the media.
- Don't worry about how much things might be presented by the media – Just as long as they spell architect correctly.
- The benefits, perhaps not apparent at first, could be long-lasting and might even provide a new project or two. Think about how the local community might follow up with more market-oriented activities.
For the recipient of the award, it is a rare opportunity. Some effort in promoting the award can help elevate the firm brand and awareness, particularly in a smaller community.
It is a good story, and as a form of marketing, it can help increase the profile of architects and architecture and bring all architects into the local media conversation.
John Raimondo is an RAIC Syllabus student working in the firm of Raimondo + Associates Architects in Niagara Falls.
Ian Ellingham,PhD, FRAIC, is the chair of the Niagara Society of Architects and the chair of the Built Environment Open Forum, which publishes the Right Angle Journal.