The social media scene is ever evolving. New platforms are popping up rapidly, while others are becoming obsolete. With so many channels to choose from, learn about and keep up with, social media strategy has the potential to be a real headache for digital marketers in the AEC industry, an industry changing almost as rapidly as the tools with which we market those services. Here are five best practices I think can help you make the most of your firm’s time spent on social media marketing.
As another new year is almost upon us, I’m reminded of three powerful presentations that I was fortunate to attend in 2016 with lessons to carry forward into 2017.
The national SMPS (Society for Marketing Professional Services) and CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) conferences always have high caliber keynote speakers, and 2016 was no exception with Ben Casnocha and Amy Cuddy. Then at its local signature event in November, CREW St. Louis brought in national speaker AmyK. All three were dynamic, had great stories to tell and gave key takeaways to help others in their career development.
Inspiration is everywhere; you just have to find it from the words of your favorite poet to the leaves of a beautiful fall day that might drive your imagination to another world. As a designer, I translate my inspirations to concepts that lead a design of a space. What inspires me you might ask? Nature plays a huge role in my inspiration. A hike to the mountains opens my imagination to a whole new level. The beauty of how each rock is formed and the breeze that comes through any lookout just instantly creates an idea in my head for what might become a ceiling design, a floor pattern, or even a feature wall design.
When Lawrence Group moved from Lafayette Square to downtown St. Louis in 1992, my mother, Martha Ohlemeyer, presented me with a painting of the Old Courthouse that still hangs on the wall in my office. She painted it over the course of a few days (which still blows my mind), thinking it important that our new office have some artwork representative of downtown. She did it as an homage to one of her favorites, Fred Conway, who she studied under at Washington University in the 1940’s. Look him up and you’ll see the inspiration. She credits him in the upper right corner. It was he who steered her to fine art rather than commercial art. Always practical, her idea had been to be a magazine illustrator. He convinced her otherwise. She enjoyed a prolific career of painting and sculpting in multiple media, teaching, showing and occasionally selling. Selling her work was never a goal, though it was certainly nice when it happened. Her art was just what she did. She never bragged about her talent, but was very comfortable knowing she had it. She worked hard at it and enjoyed it and, in the process, inadvertently made my childhood mid-century modern.
A lot of my school breaks as a kid were spent hanging out with mom and her art friends either at the Artist’s Guild when it was next door to Soldan High School, at one of her friend’s homes or maybe even accompanying them on a plein air outing. I had no idea of the culture rich environment I was immersed in, I was just enjoying it for what it was and soaking it in unawares. If I didn’t have my own coloring books or modeling clay, they’d give me scraps of ‘the real stuff’ to play with. Among her friends was Ruth Schweiss, an art school classmate who had gone on to study at Cranbrook under Carl Milles (sculptor for the fountains in front of Union Station and the Climatron). She created the ballerina sculptures in front of the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. The Schweiss family lived in a house designed by Bernoudy-Mutrux. As a kid, I remember always liking the house because it had lots of cubbies, nooks and crannies and windows that were somehow different than anything I had seen anywhere else. I had no idea I was moving about a mid-century modern classic work of art. It was just a fun place to play.
It has been nearly 15 years since Lawrence Group acquired the Security Building in downtown St. Louis and renovated it as our corporate headquarters. Being a native St. Louisan (and one to never turn down the opportunity to hear a good story), I’ve enjoyed learning about the role the Security Building played in St. Louis history. Some of the stories are verifiable, but some of the best ones are not: Charles Lindbergh signed the financing deal for his historic transatlantic flight in the bar of the Noonday Club on the tenth floor (or did he?); the Security Building actually bests the Wainwright Building as being the first steel frame high rise in St. Louis (or are the dates on the Security Building construction drawings somehow misleading?).
I have been fortunate enough to live in several different US cities. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I spent a summer in Memphis over a decade ago, suffered through a couple winters in Chicago and then ventured to perpetually sunny Las Vegas to finish college. I spent two years enjoying Los Angeles, and since January I find myself nestled here in St. Louis. Throughout all of the change, however, one thing has remained constant – I love to cycle, and there is nothing that could get me off my bike. I bike for fun, for exercise, for transportation and for competition.
As designers, competition is a priority. You can say it’s our way of showing off and sharing our creativity with the rest of the world. It is absolutely fascinating seeing what the restrictions, challenges and guidelines of each competition lead us to create.
Once we get together, nothing can stop us from coming up with a unique idea that breaks “the rule.” I recently entered two design competition with several of my colleagues at Lawrence Group including; Dean Sutton, Jerod Thornton, Terry McCoy, Theresa Sahrmann, and Kevin Le.
The first competition was the 2015 eVolo Furniture Design Competition. Designers were given multiple categories to choose from. In each category teams were tasked to build a furniture piece that would transform the way we live and interact with our environment. As a team we chose “planes” as our category and used it to create “Pop-Up Adventure.” Pop-Up Adventure is a versatile space that transforms into a living room, dining room, or bedroom by simply folding out the furniture from the surrounding corresponding walls, floor and ceiling…similar to a children’s pop-Up book. Furniture is made of thin planes of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber has been selected for its high strength to- weight ratio.
One of the latest trends I’m so excited about is adult coloring and – more importantly – adult coloring books. I know it may sound risqué, but it’s really quite PG. These physical coloring books and even mobile apps consist of ready to color pages of complex patterns, delicate florals, organic mandalas and stunning graphics that are aimed at an older population. Who wouldn’t love an opportunity to revive a great memory of your childhood with a little stress-free coloring?
This latest creative explosion is certainly a means to relax and unwind. I adored coloring as a child, even as young adult, and frankly in my profession, I still love it. In lieu of coloring my favorite Lisa Frank posters, my “coloring” now is a bit more tangible and involves various colorful selections for clients and projects. Nevertheless, any good designer or architect probably has a minimum of four random colored pencils or Prismacolor markers lying on their desk at any point in the day. There is something relaxing about coloring, and based on the fact that seven of the top 10 best-selling books on Amazon right now are Adult Coloring books, it shows that there is a large segment of the population who could use a break from all the stress of the day and a break from feeling of digital overload.
Every year I travel with my former college roommates for a long weekend. We live in five different areas in the country, so we choose someplace unique that supports our need for the urban environment, nature, solitude, experience, or culture. The five of us met the first week at University of Kansas years ago. Arriving, I didn’t know a soul but left with lifelong friends (and a great education!).
This year, we spent a long weekend in Sedona, Arizona. The quietness and beauty of the geological formations were enhanced by perfect weather and friendly people. Initially, the darkness of the city was maddening, as no street lights made it hard to find our lodging late at night; however, that big open sky, the beauty of the vast heavens chock full of stars, quickly dispelled our modern day navigational frustration.
Earlier this month, I was able to attend the 2015 CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network conference in Seattle. From the opening keynote to the breakout sessions, project tour and Madelaine Albright’s closing keynote, the conference was energizing, inspirational and provided lots of networking time.