Monday, September 16, 2013

Constructing thought leadership programs

Architectural and design firms are getting into the thought leadership business.

A survey of 144 architectural, engineering and construction firms worldwide found that  55 percent have some sort of a thought leadership, research or innovation program. More than half of these programs were started in the past five years.

Although it was not part of the survey, the matter of the slow economy came up in later interviews, suggesting that firms in this industry are using thought leadership is a means to survive the bad times. And it seems to be working. Amanda Walter writes:
More than 65 percent of firms with these programs can make a direct or indirect correlation between the thought leadership program and new work. Although not every firm can point to a specific example, Sera Architects in Portland actually received a cold call from Google telling them that they’d been watching their sustainability presentations for years and invited them to respond to an RFP.
Another interesting finding is that the companies in the survey are taking to new media more than old in their efforts.
With 63 percent of respondents communicating their efforts through social media and more than half of them sharing their content through blogs, this subset of firms seem to be adapting to the shift toward communicating in the new media at a faster rate than the industry as a whole. (According to the research in the 2012 book Social Media in Action: Comprehensive Guide for Architecture, Engineering and Environmental Consulting Firms, only 16 percent of firms reported that they were blogging.)
Here's a picture of the communications channels of those in the survey:

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