Lightspeed Changes in Marketing

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Tapping In to the Power of the Press” and sent it in newsletter format to a number of AEC firm principals. This article also served as the basis of a webinar, most recently delivered for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) last December. Next month, I’m presenting a live version of the topic at ACEC’s Annual Convention in Washington.

It’s amazing how much public relations has changed since I first sat down to write that article less than two years ago. Specifically, how many more opportunities there are to publicize your firm and how different those opportunities are. This is due, in great part, to the growth of networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

More than ever, if you have an interesting viewpoint that can raise your firm’s profile with your target audience, you don’t need to win the approval of a writer or editor for one of the industry trade magazines to get it into a reader’s hands. You can “self-publish” this information in a blog or through some other online resource (on LinkedIn, say, linking it back to your web site).

You could always go directly to the audience, of course, by sending personalized letters or hard-copy newsletters. A few years back, e-mail newsletters became a trend to accomplish the goal of getting your thoughts directly to your target audience. In both these approaches, you risk having your hard work dumped in the trash without it being read.

Hard-copy trade publications are still a powerful medium through which to market an AEC firm’s services…one that I believe will outlive a lot of other so-called “traditional media.” The principles from the “Tapping In…” article still hold true.

But the ease with which I’m seeing firms draw attention to themselves through the “Web 2.0” phenomenon hints of a future where most of our writing, marketing, and publicizing will go straight from the writer’s hard drive to the reader’s computer screen with no filter and no middle man. This is revolutionary for marketing in our (and any) industry.

Granted, the current audience for material on blogs and social networks is relatively small. But it’s an audience that is growing exponentially; for example, Web tracker comScore says Twitter attracted 6.1 million global visitors in January, an increase of 40%.

The attention being paid (and time being spent) on these networking sites means it’s only good business sense to know as much as you can about these potential marketing tools. How else can you decide where your firm should be on the growth curve?

As for my presentation next month, any thoughts of making a few minor tweaks to the previously delivered material are gone. I updated my material to incorporate the online networking trend in the context of gaining press coverage for AEC firms. Otherwise, my presentation about tapping into the power of the press would be old news.

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