About This Book
You are a great designer, but no-one knows. Now what?
This indispensable book, written by one of the most influential marketers in architecture, will demystify Public Relations and marketing for all architects, whether in large practices or practicing as sole practitioners.
It bridges the distance between architects and marketing by giving practical tips, best practice and anecdotes from an author with 20 years' experience in architecture marketing. It explains all aspects of PR and Business Development for architects: for example, how to write a good press release; how to make a fee proposal; how to prepare for a pitch. It gives examples of how others do it well, and the pitfalls to avoid. In addition, it discusses more general aspects which are linked to PR and BD, such as being a good employer, ethics for architects and the challenges when working abroad.
Featuring vital insights from a wide variety of architects, from multinational practices to small offices, this book is an essential companion to any architectural office.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR MANAGING UNPAID WORK
- Take time to calculate your chances. Architectural competitions vary in their structure, often according to the country in which they are taking place, but more often than not they have poor conditions. In Germany, for example, architectural competitions often consist of 30 practices competing, with only the first 5 receiving a (small) fee. The remaining 25 effectively work without compensation, producing the same amount of work as those shortlisted. One means of countering this is being selective and beginning with a worst-case, rather than best-case, scenario. Consider how much of a loss you are prepared to suffer and make a probability calculation. A 1 out of 30 chance of winning is a very poor statistic (just over a 3% chance of success), while 1 out of 4 (25%) is a fair chance. Surprisingly, a lost competition can generate a positive PR boost. However, statistics also come into play here. The 4 finalists’ projects are more likely to be published than the remaining 30. In the case of the ill-fated Guggenheim Helsinki competition, many practices experienced a positive surge in PR by publishing their project. Committing to a clear and decisive strategy facilitates impartial decision-making, leaving less to chance and more to choice.
- Request a symbolic fee instead of working without a fee. Many architects request a symbolic fee rather than working entirely without compensation. Quoting a figure in the realm of £2,000 to £10,000 serves as an effective means of testing if a particular client has serious intentions and whether they value architectural work fairly.
- Reduce the scope of work for unpaid services. Strategically reduce the scope of the deliverables for unpaid service by providing fast hand sketches, or volume studies, without defining details. Entice a client’s imagination with a few strategic images and figures to acquire a full commission.
- Negotiate follow-up conditions. Accept the unpaid work only on the condition that the client retains your architectural services should the project continue. A simple letter endorsed by the client in this case is sufficient.
- Negotiate a next project. Enquire whether the client will commission your services for other projects, should this one not be successful. Be wary of setting a precedent with a potentially large client of initially working without a fee. Consider strategically whether it is worthwhile to initially work without a fee.
- Negotiate a bonus. Commercial project developers, in particular, appreciate it if you take a risk by making an unpaid sketch. By negotiating a success fee or bonus you can receive payment if the project continues.
- Emphasise your flexibility. Ensure that your client understands that free work is an exception. It is important that the client realises that your work, in this particular case, is a gift.
- Solicit your own work by approaching the right parties with your ideas. With unsolicited proposal work (unpaid) it is possible to generate your own commission. If you identify a vacant site with potential, you might sketch a concept for its revitalisation and approach a developer. This kind of active acquisition works for some architects. However, as in all things, balance is key. How much time is it wise to invest and what happens if this does not have the desired outcome?
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR MANAGING HARD-LABOUR CONDITIONS
- Get paid. Easier said than done, but implement controls and sufficiently schedule deliverables to ensure that you receive payment for the full services you provide.
- Plan ahead. Planning your work well will ensure success. Endlessly exploring options can be a wonderful means of innovating but fail fast, iterate rapidly and commit to efficiency.
- Involve clients in decision-making. Avoid working in a black hole. Involve the client more frequently to expedite decisions and reduce unnecessary workflow.
- Make communal decisions. Plan the overwork together with your employees. Be there and do the same hours as your employees, or more.
- Enhance secondary benefits. If you cannot pay your employees for the full services they provide, seek out opportunities to make their lives easier, by offering other employment benefits. Maybe share some of the perks of your professional life with your employees – think about taking them to interesting meetings or site visits. It will be great for morale and motivation.
- Be open. An open discussion and transparency between you and your employees is important. You can discuss future ambitions and agree that the current work style is a means to an end – an investment in a future without overwork.
- Be grateful. Be aware that people work overtime voluntarily and that this is a gift of a precious resource. Be grateful and respectful of this.
- Do better. Although you might have endured abuse yourself as a young architect, do not perpetuate this tradition.