Exclusive blog: Turning awards into media coverage

Alex Blyth, Joint MD at PR and new business agency Red Setter reveals how thought leadership can push your practice to greater heights.

This week’s CGarchitect Architectural 3D Awards saw some outstanding examples of the power of design. Amongst our favourite winners was Alexey Zakharov, who took home the prize for the best Architectural Film (non commissioned) with a photo based animation project called “The Old New World” which takes viewers on a journey back in time.

The winners and nominees produced work for the creators and indeed the entire industry to be proud of. These awards matter to architectural practices and firms. They can inspire the team and attract new talent, and they can strengthen client relationships – even encourage new clients to pick up the phone. Simply winning one of these prestigious awards begins that process, but turning that win into media coverage vastly accelerates the process.

But how to create that media coverage? Anyone who has tried it will know that it is not as simple as sending a news release to the media and waiting for them to publish it. Editorial space in the leading publications is at a premium, and editors in these titles receive as many as 1000 news releases each week.

Gaining this attention is possible. It is not easy, but it can be done. Here are some ideas on how practices and firms can begin to turn awards into media coverage and new business.

Look beyond a news release

Write a news release by all means. Getting the facts of the win and the project down on page is a useful place to start your PR campaign, and it can be a helpful vehicle for gaining all necessary client approvals. You might want to email your news to your existing clients, as well as to dormant ones, companies you have a relationship with, and other friends of your practice or firm.

You can post it on your website and push it out to your network through social media. On Twitter you can hashtag to take it to a wider audience, and on LinkedIn make use of groups and possibly even sponsored posts if budget allows. But if you want to take it to a wider audience of people you don’t know and who, crucially, don’t already know your practice or firm, you need to get smarter than a news release.

It’s not about you, or your win

A far more effective tactic for generating media coverage from your award win is to craft some thought leadership around it. This should look more closely at the project and highlight what your practice or firm did that merited the award. The fact of the award remains critically important, simply because it helps your pitch to an editor stand out from the many others they will receive that day. But it is the work, and the thinking behind it that matters most.

This sort of thought leadership is difficult to create, but do it well and it will have a powerful impact. It will be relevant not only to editors, but also to potential clients. The fact of your award win might draw them to read your article, but it is the quality of the thinking and ideas that led to the win that might persuade them to pick up the phone to you.

This thought leadership should form the basis of ongoing media engagement, and start the process of attracting more of the right sort of work to your practice or firm.  The practices or firms that spend the next few weeks doing that will be making the most of their win at the CGarchitect Architectural 3D Awards. We hope to read those thought leadership articles in the weeks to come – if nothing else the quality of the winning work demands it.