ARCHITECT contributor Jeff Link asks: Should architects receive media training prior to speaking with the press? It is a question that looms more every day as designers embrace activist roles, take on sensitive projects, and strive to make a name in the competitive marketplace. Here, several architects and public relations experts share their thoughts.

Improve Your Messaging
Media training can help architects deliver a more coherent, gripping message while avoiding common missteps such as neglecting to mention key contributors, leaking confidential project details, or unintentionally slighting clients.

Tami Hausman, architectural historian and the founder and president of New York–based marketing and PR firm Hausman, says that while some architects are naturally gifted speakers, many are not as effective as they could be at reinforcing key messages that help differentiate their firms. “The most basic lesson is be truthful,” she says. “We also tell people to be very respectful and helpful to the interviewer.” At a cost of “several thousand dollars and up,” depending on the service length and rigor, Hausman’s firm offers videotaped mock interviews, tutorials, talking points, and role-playing sessions to prepare practitioners for media interviews and high-profile speaking engagements.

Todd DeGarmo, FAIA, CEO and principal of New York–based Studios Architecture says small group trainings with Havre de Grace, Md.–based media consultant MarketPoint, including videotaped and critiqued speaking assignments, have helped firm associates discuss the practice’s work to the press corps and deliver convincing project pitches to commercial clients, which include large media and technology companies. DeGarmo has learned it can be best to let their clients' PR teams outline the story’s key themes prior to media interviews. “Very rarely do we talk to a publication if we haven’t talked to the client first,” he says. “With how many times [these clients] get touched from media, we’re absolutely fine to let them coordinate all that. We just want to make sure were mentioned in the story.”

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