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Instagram: Why Your Firm Should Have It and How to Implement It

Instagram is among the newest social media platforms that companies of all industries are implementing to reach their customers. Boasting over 300 million daily active users, Instagram has huge potential for marketers, even those in the AEC industry. People come to Instagram to be inspired and discover things they care about, and that includes content from brands and businesses.

Research shows that:

  • Engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter

  • 48.8% of brands are on Instagram. By 2017, this is predicted to rise to 70.7%

The popularity and the research that supported the marketing effectiveness were the reasons why SMPS Arizona decided to embark on the journey of implementing a Chapter Instagram account. In this post, we will share our implementation experience and provide takeaways for a successful implementation experience.

BRAINSTORM & RESEARCH: Ask yourself, why Instagram?
Our Instagram journey started with a brainstorming session, which revealed these key questions:

  • Why should we have an Instagram account?

  • What type of content would we share on our account?

  • How will this benefit our membership?

Next, we researched fellow SMPS Chapters using Instagram, and how they were using it. We reviewed 14 SMPS Chapter accounts and analyzed what types of content they were sharing and how they were using it to communicate with their membership.

Find your target audience, decide what you want to communicate, and research how competitors are using the platform.

PLAN: Create a solid, straight-forward plan to obtain approval.
After brainstorming and performing research, we incorporated all our findings into a seven-page plan to present to the SMPS AZ Board. The plan incorporated our research, how we could use Instagram to advance the Chapter, types of content to share, and next steps for implementing the account. The plan was well received and immediately approved after being presented.

Provide  decision makers with a well thought-out plan that provides evidence of WHY you should implement the process and HOW the implementation will be achieved.

A snapshot of the SMPS Arizona Instagram Plan 

DESIGN: Create templates for easy dissemination of information.
To ensure success in providing content on a consistent basis, we created graphic templates for content provided on a regular (monthly, weekly, annually) basis like: events, job board posts, monthly member recognitions, and annual special events. This helped us streamline the content creation process while allowing for customization of templates according to specific content.

Social media can take a back seat when marketers get busy with  day-to-day tasks - set yourself up for success by having a library of graphic templates on hand to populate your account with content.


SCHEDULE: Create a Content Calendar & Utilize a Scheduling Platform
Due to the multiple social media accounts we manage and volume of posts published monthly, it was crucial to create a content calendar. It keeps our Chapter volunteers on track with  regularly scheduled posts and helps avoid missing opportunities for publicity. We use our events calendar and historical data on special events to populate the calendar. This calendar also allows us to utilize  third-party scheduling platforms like Hootsuite to schedule our posts in advance. Scheduling Instagram posts on Hootsuite is slightly different from standard posts. Per Hootsuite’s site, when a post is scheduled or sent through Hootsuite, a notification is sent to your mobile app which then allows you to publish the post on Instagram. Both the Hootsuite and Instagram apps must be installed on your mobile device to send the post.

Save time by creating a content calendar to manage your weekly social media posts and schedule posts ahead of time with Hootsuite.

PUBLISH: Share content with your audience and follow industry accounts.
Once we completed all the preparation for our Instagram account, we created a profile and scheduled our first post. Then we began to follow other SMPS Chapters, industry firms and vendors, and influential accounts to increase our exposure. We continue to use our templates and schedule to publish content along with live photo and video from events. Check out the account here.

Preparation prior to creating your Instagram account helps make a smooth transition for the launch. Make sure to follow other accounts in your industry for reciprocal exposure.

Roxy Kinsinger 
Senior Marketing/Proposal Coordinator, Pulice Construction, Inc.

Roxy has been in the A/E/C Industry for six years and a SMPS member for the past four years. She's has had a crucial role with SMPS as Publicity Director for the past two years and has worked at Pulice for the past four years. In her free time, Roxy loves checking off awesome hikes from her bucket list with her husband and channeling her inner zen at yoga!

Michelle D'Souza 
Marketing Coordinator, T.Y. Lin International 

Michelle has been immersed in the A/E/C Industry for about five years and a SMPS member for the past 10 months. Michelle is a Social Media Champion for the SMPS Arizona Publicity Branch and a recent Member of the Month award winner! Michelle loves to work on fun design projects, cook and travel as much as she can in her free time. 

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Build Business 2017 Takeaways

Build Business is the premier A/E/C Marketing and Business Development Conference that brings together hundreds of marketers, business developers, principals and firm owners. This year’s Build Business had a few new features and a lot of great information!

What was new this year?

  • Three-day conference: Build Business started earlier this year (at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 12) with immersive learning, workshops, and never-before-seen presentations

  • MAX (Market.Act.eXchange): The popular, short-form presentations are back—but this year, they were on the Main Stage! 

  • Digital Skills Lab: Instructor-led, hands-on training makes its debut with technology-based programs such as InDesign and Photoshop (Yes!) 

  • Mind Exchange: Roundtable discussions with the latest topics facilitated by industry experts

  • Evening of Excellence: Reinvented awards presentation focuses on recognition, inspiration, and more networking opportunities

Several of our Arizona Chapter members had the opportunity to attend Build Business this year and came back with great tips! See below:

Data Tells, Stories Sell

Data is about connection, not necessarily perfection. Data doesn’t say much until it is interpreted. Evidence SPEAKS:

S – stories
P – personal examples
E – expert testimony
A – analogies
K – killer quotes
S – statistics & facts

The Best Leaders Prioritize Effectively

According to CJ McClanahan, there are five levels of commitment that we can attach to tasks and life. Prioritize your tasks by assigning a level to them: 

  1. No – not doing it!
  2. Wishing and wanting to do it.
  3. “I’ll try.” (We all know this really means “no”.
  4.  I’m committed, unless something else more important comes up.
  5. Absolutely! Whatever it takes!

Most people feel the exact same way as you do – swamped and unsure of how to get everything done. Prioritize effectively and you’ll always feel ahead of the game.

  1. Plan your week in advance – Less than 5% of professionals plan their week in advance because odds are, it’s going to change. Plan out your week so that you always get your most crucial tasks completed on time. How? Monday morning sit down and write down five things that hold the top priority level. Then, get them done.
  2. Eat that Frog – Yep, you heard me. Complete the task you don’t want to do, first.  Just get it done first.  It’s all downhill after that.  Try to avoid the fake conversation with yourself late on Tuesday afternoon. You know, the one where you’re telling yourself you’ll be “in the mood” to work on that task tomorrow. Chances are you won’t be “in the mood” tomorrow. Attitude second, priority first.
  3. Reduce Distractions - Distraction number one is your coworkers.  Resolution – shut your door!  No door?  Put in headphones.  Send a do not disturb signal to your coworkers.  Create an environment where you are not accessible to everyone, all of the time.  If you are working on something that requires total concentration, do not allow yourself to be distracted or fully accessible to other people. Distraction number two is your cell phone and number three is email.  We are addicted to interruptions.  Studies show e-mail is destructive for productivity. Studies show, when you are interrupted, it takes 7 to 21 minutes to refocus your brain on what you were doing originally.  Want proof? How many times have you stayed late and been way more productive in those last hours when no one is in the office than you were the entire day?
  4. Write things down in a notebook - Sticky notes are not to-do lists.  Microsoft Outlook is not a to-do list.  Canary pads are not a to-do list.  Get a special notebook and take it with you everywhere and use that as your to-do list.  When people ask you to do things, write them down, in one place, and then get back to what you were doing.  Then, at the end of the day, you can revisit that list and ensure nothing is forgotten.
  5. Stop saying yes to everything – Consider the level of importance of tasks you’re requested to do and how well they tie in to your job description. If you are asked to do something that is not part of your job or not important, you CAN say no to it. You can’t do everything. Something has to take a priority.  Your priority is quality not quantity. 

Values-based Hiring Leads to Higher Employee Engagement and Lower Turnover

Ever wonder why some people just seem to be a “fit” in your firm and others are like poison apples? Perhaps it is because you are focusing just on an employee’s skill set and not how their values align with your firm’s values. By utilizing behavioral and experiential interview processes, and including questions on your firms’ values in the application process, you are much more likely to find the right match. How does marketing fit into this? Well, we are the brand ambassadors, meaning it is our job to help HR (and our entire firms) to understand the mission, vision, and core values.

You can work with HR to ensure that the application process includes questions on your application. You can be a part of the interview experience by creating a “values exercise.” Your employees have an effect on everything that you do. In order to communicate your culture to a potential employee, ask cultural questions such as “What attracts you to our company?” or “What do you know about us?”

You can make sure your office is clearly expressing your values through internal marketing such as naming your conference rooms after your core values or having signage that shows employees what those values look like. Lastly, you can create an internal marketing campaign to reward employees who are living the core values through their work. You cannot stop people from leaving the firm, but you can create an environment they don’t want to leave. Retention ideas include hand written notes from the CEO, golden anniversary gifts, one on one meetings each week, and a “years of service” wall in your office.

Untapped Marketing Power of the Infographics

Why infographics?

  • We’re visually wired - Almost 50% of your brain is involved in visual processing.

  • It’s more persuasive: In a Wharton School of Business study, 67% of the audience was persuaded by the verbal presentation with accompanying visuals.

  • Infographics are easier to recall: People remember 80% of what they see and do, versus 20% of what they read and 10% of what they hear.

How to Create an Infographic:

Start with an Infographic Go-No Go. Ask yourself the following questions: Why is this needed? Who is it for? What should they know after seeing it? What is the topic? Finally, where should it be shared? Once an infographic has received the “go,” collect the data and find your narrative for the infographic. Next steps include creating a mockup, design edits, and lastly, testing the effectiveness of your infographic.

Infographic Tool Recommendations:

Marketing Communications Awards

Wow! There were some fantastic and brilliant ideas that came out of the MCA’s this year. If haven’t had a chance to see the finalists and award winners visit You’re sure to walk away with a few dozen ideas for your firm. 

Thank you to our local members for providing great tips from this year’s Build Business Conference!

Build Business is a great conference that brings A/E/C clients, content experts, principals, business developers and marketers together to learn from and challenge one another to think differently about business. It looks like many of our fellow SMPS members were able to learn from others and provide the rest of our chapter with some great tools to “build yourself, build your firm and build the world.”

Did you attend Build Business? Do you have additional takeaways you’d like to share with the chapter? Please, comment below and share your knowledge!

Ashley Black
Marketing Administrator, Ryan Companies US, Inc.

Ashley joined the AEC industry in January 2015 and became a member of SMPS shortly after. She is the current Blog Chair and a member on the hospitality committee. Ashley loves hot yoga, basketball, cooking and spending time with her newborn niece, Halle. 

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Construction Site Safety: Tips for Marketers

Marketing professionals working in the construction industry juggle many tasks every day – from adapting to the preferences and requests of clients, to ensuring the success of marketing plans and everything in between, these daily job requirements are far from simple. Safety is top of mind for those out in the field but is that mind-set being carried into the office? Safety should be the highest priority for all employees in construction as people are firms’ biggest assets and it has a major impact on a business’s bottom line.

Let's take a look at some safety tips and information:

Verify vendors visiting sites are meeting your firm’s safety requirements.
Marketers within the A/E/C industry should provide the company safety program to all vendors prior to sending them on an active site. This way, the vendor will be familiar with all safety processes and procedures prior to entering the site. This is a great step to ensure safety without compromising the firm. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided to anyone visiting an active site.  

Ask the appropriate staff member before sharing an active job site photo on social media.
Even if you are up-to-date with all job site safety regulations, you should always check with a superintendent, project manager or safety director before posting an active job site photo. The worst thing you can do is take a great action shot and blast it on social media, to find out that a safety hazard is taking place in the image. Be careful and double check before sharing on social media!

Become OSHA Certified.
The benefits of being certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should not be underestimated. provides an online library featuring 40 construction safety courses – Look them over and decide which course would make most sense for your specific firm. For example, the OSHA 30-hour Construction Industry Outreach Training course is a comprehensive safety program designed for anyone involved in the construction industry. By meeting OSHA's certification qualifications, marketers can enhance their knowledge of construction safety and demonstrate to clients that they are well-versed in safety matters. In addition, questions regarding safety is always an important section asked in an RFQ/RFP. Understanding the OSHA requirements and learning more about safety will allow marketers to have a better understanding of the regulations in order to respond appropriately – instead of recycling old verbiage.

Aside from these technical benefits, the most significant byproduct of becoming OSHA-certified is in being able to communicate more effectively with field personnel. 

Actively Promote and Campaign Safety Programs
Safety awareness from all employees is important to a successful project. One way of spreading cognizance is by having a safety campaign. It is important to actively promote your firm’s safety program and is even better if you understand the terminology and the regulations that your team can best relate to. Conveying an understanding of safety guidelines will allow for successful safety campaigns.  

Jessica Kane
Professional Blogger, Federal Steel Supply, Inc. 

Jessica Kane has been a professional blogger for the past five years at Federal Steel Supply, Inc., a leading supplier of carbon, alloy and stainless steel pipes, tubes, fittings and flanges. She’s been in this industry for 10 years and stumbled across SMPS Arizona through LinkedIn. In her free time, Jessica enjoys spending time with her 1.5-year-old son and husband. 

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What I Learned from the F Word: From Failure to Fortune

“Successful people are not people who never fail. They’re people who know how to fail really, really well” (Karen Salmansohn).

Failure is part of life, but I never explicitly learned how to handle failure in productive ways. I was originally reading Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmansohn to learn about personal grieving and loss. The books are about so much more, and I found something I didn’t know I was looking for. I found that resilience was one of the keys to strong marketing professionals. These techniques aren’t just helpful in my personal struggles; they are tools for my career in marketing professional services. These tools help the marketing professional with personalization, feedback, perfection, loss, rejection, and more.

Marketing professional services is a unique career. I continue to improve my marketing skills including document layout, writing, presentations and graphics. As I dive deeper into my career, resilience is another skill that takes a significant amount of awareness and practice.

Warning: description of a proposal loss ahead.

As marketing professionals, we take ownership of each pursuit. We customize each submission and leave it all on the page. We comply with everything requested – checking each box. We put hours into perfecting every detail until we feel confident with our submission.

We feel the joys of being asked to interview for the project. We practice and strategize with our teams. This is the moment for which we have trained. We’re perfect for this project.

You wait for days that feel like months or months that feel like years. You anxiously refresh your browser and inbox.

Then you receive the letter – your firm wasn’t selected. Your heart drops followed by your neck’s strength.

Several of my marketing role models have their own stories. The more time you have invested, the harder it hurts. Everyone’s loss is unique.

Rejection doesn’t go away and neither does the pain of rejection, but some of the strongest marketing professionals are those that bounce back quickly. Failure and resilience are part of the job.

The techniques below are helpful with adversity, loss, failure, rejection and more. They have also helped me to become a better support system for others who go through their own struggles. Here are some ways to turn failure into fortune.

Avoid the three Ps.

Martin Seligman found that the following 3 P’s can stunt recovery:

  1. Personalization — the belief that we are at fault
  2. Pervasiveness — the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life
  3. Permanence — the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever

“It’s not only the event itself, but the way we explain the event to ourselves that causes depression” (Salmansohn).

The book continues, “What beliefs has your adversity triggered? What type of person does it make you feel like?” Salmansohn urges us to be aware of our negative self-talk.

I’m not good enough. (personal)
I’ll never be able to do this. (permanence)
This always happens. (pervasive)

Talk about it.

Always debrief with your team and your client. Keep a couple of rules in mind. Salmansohn explains that if you ask the wrong questions, you’re going to get the wrong answers. Why didn’t I…? What if…? Or Why me? These questions slow our recovery time and personalize the situation. Instead, make sure your debrief questions and your self-talk are geared toward productive questions. What can I do to move forward? What’s within my control? How can I grow from this challenge? It’s very important to keep personalization out of a debrief conversation to avoid a defensive meeting.

Sandberg discusses the importance of acknowledging her situation with her team, which helped her feel less isolated. When we validate our team members on their experiences, we’re building a supportive team that encourages growth from rejection.

“Teams that focus on learning from failure outperform those that don't.” For Sandberg, failure is a learning opportunity.

Avoid iceberg beliefs.

“Iceberg beliefs are thoughts that float beneath the surface of your consciousness: powerful forces that can significantly undermine your resilience and cause you to overreact to a situation” (Salmansohn). These are like the three Ps. They sound like self-doubt and disguise themselves as actual truths. One way to overcome iceberg beliefs is to write a proof of inaccuracy next to each iceberg belief.

Finally, I’ll end with a poem, Autobiography In Five Short Chapters, written by Portia Nelson

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in... it's a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately. 

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it. 

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

To me, this poem illustrates my journey of self-awareness. There are times where I am aware that I personalize a situation, I fall in a hole, and it takes me a while to get out. There are times of growth where I can catch myself ruminating, and I get out of the hole immediately. I sometimes bounce back faster than I have in the past. I’m still working on walking down another street, which means trying these productive habits when adversity crosses my path. Sometimes it’s helpful to be reminded that there are other roads and that you aren’t always walking alone.

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
The Bounce Back Book by Karen Salmansohn
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Jennifer Giralo 
Marketing Coordinator, Archer Western Construction

Jennifer has been in the A/E/C industry for the past five years and a SMPS member for four years. She was previously the SMPS website chair and will have an active role within the chapter in the upcoming 2017-2018 year. Jennifer is improviser, she creates stories and characters onstage. She also performs one-woman musicals in her car during her commutes. 

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Teaming Up - VDC & Marketing

VDC is extremely relevant in our industry today and has evolved over the last few years. Megan Conrad, Virtual Construction Manager and Mike Prefling, Director of Virtual Construction at Ryan Companies, will provide some valuable insight below.

What is exactly is VDC?

VDC stands for Virtual Design Construction. I believe there are two concepts to understand. First, we have a Building Information Model (BIM); which is a 3D model representation of a building scope, a MEP system or any other physical part of a project. Designers, contractors and vendors have mostly moved to BIM as it provides a more efficient way for them to design, draft and fabricate. I think of BIM as a noun, it’s the model & repository for information. On the other hand, Virtual Design & Construction should be thought of as a verb. It is how a myriad of models are combined, shared, evolved, leveraged and used for communication, conflict identification and resolution, and gleaned for information sharing to all stakeholders. VDC is a process driver. I’ve heard it described well as if BIM is the car then VDC is the driver. The VDC process includes software, hardware and people – ideally all in the proper configurations and locations to allow for cooperative participation, and enabled to deliver a high performing (i.e., optimized) constructed facility. 

How are the VDC and the Marketing teams in your company similar? How are they different?

We have a lot of similarities between our VDC and Marketing teams. Both groups have to draw desires and vision out of people. We both have to force action, keep groups on task, and hold people accountable. We have strict design standards, even use some of the same software, and care deeply about helping our clients experiencing a positive, emotional reaction to their project. The biggest similarity is that we both tell stories; they just might be in different formats and for different reasons. Our VDC team is able to transform a design concept into an image, animation, or virtual reality that brings it to life, while our Marketing team is able to take our deliverables and form a cohesive message with text, branding, and formatting to deliver a complete story.

How do VDC and marketing team up for pursuits or even for current projects?

We collaborate on almost every pursuit and almost every project together. VDC and Marketing combined has become a powerful duo. Marketing really understands the overall vision, objectives and key messaging points for pursuits and interviews. VDC understands construction and is in the business of visually communicating scope, process, design, logistics, budget and schedule. During pursuits, VDC can help provide supplemental graphics or tools in order to help tell the story. We do that in a variety of ways:

  1. 3D building animations and renderings
  2. Cost and schedule summary infographics
  3. Site logistics
  4. Process maps
  5. Regional amenity graphics

Sample Schedule Sequence Infographic

The VDC team’s talents reside in bringing information to life, and combined with a marketing team’s overall vision strategy, it makes for a perfect combo for business development efforts trying to win work. 

How do you think VDC technology can enhance marketing efforts or what successes have you seen when combining VDC and marketing?

One of the greatest successes we’ve seen is utilizing Virtual Reality in marketing efforts, particularly in leasing and sales capacities. Ryan’s VDC group generates 360 degree views of apartment units for potential renters to tour via virtual headsets and even an interactive experience that allows the viewer to use a controller to explore the space virtually at their own leisure. Additionally, we provide design studio-quality renderings that can be used in a wide array of marketing platforms. This provides huge added value to our clients in order to accurately market the space well before the projects are finished for closing sales and leasing sooner.

Do you have any advice for marketing or business development professionals when it comes to interacting or utilizing VDC?

  • Sit down with us on a routine basis and map out upcoming deliverables, efforts and marketing initiatives. We have a deep perspective on the pulse of construction and can offer technical support and/or perspectives.

  • Give us at least twice as much time as you think we need!  We use as many as 10 separate software programs to craft our deliverables, which can mean a lot of importing, exporting, rendering, aligning and tweaking details to get it just right. These things take time, but they are well worth it in the end.

  • We need content, and the more we can get sooner, the better (building models, concepts, branding standards, design constraints, etc.)

  • Feedback is greatly appreciated, especially when it’s early and often. It is significantly more challenging to make changes when nearing the due date for our deliverables.

  • Let us know the mood, theme, and other non-tangible elements of marketing a project. We can add little things to convey these properties and give our content a lot of depth. Every little bit of information matters!

As a VDC Manager for Ryan Companies, a design-build firm that also acts as a developer, you must have a unique perspective on the value of technology for all stakeholders (designers, contractors, and owners.) Can you tell us more about the value that you’ve seen VDC technology bring to a construction project?

As a full-service real estate solution provider, I find that I need to communicate in different ways with a myriad of stakeholder groups. VDC processes have become a powerful medium from which to communicate. It is our conduit to facilitate the vision and plan intelligently. We have found that the more information we pass through our VDC processes, the more “unknown” factors get converted to “known.” This enables tremendous agility and confidence in decision-making and maintains trust for all parties. We like to state that VDC gives our construction teams certainty of outcomes.

Your role in VDC exposes you to some of the most interesting technology trends in the industry. What tech are you most excited about for 2017 and beyond?

We have been working quite a bit with Virtual and Augmented Reality at Ryan Companies. With more consumers using these technologies, we are seeing a surge in applications within construction. As I mentioned earlier, we’re creating immersive experiences to invoke a positive emotional response into the sales and leasing process. I’m hoping that within the next two to five years, VR and AR will merge further, unlocking even more opportunities within construction. I’d like to see this expand to on-site applications and safety uses with true simulation and rehearsal of high-risk construction activities where “game-like” scenarios can be practiced and fine-tuned, similar to what is done in the aerospace or military industries.

Megan Conrad 
Virtual Construction Manager, Ryan Companies US, Inc. 

Megan Conrad works in Ryan's Great Lakes Region as a Virtual Construction Manager. She has been in the industry for 10 years and with Ryan Companies for over two years. Megan loves her job because she is able to tap into her creativity and provlem solve by helping others visualize the best steps to move forward. In her free time, Megan loves to hike, camp, canoe, kayak and travel to National and State parks. 

Mike Prefling 
Director of Virtual Construction, Ryan Companies US, Inc. 

Mike Prefling has worked in this industry for 17 years and nine years at Ryan. He oversees Ryan's Virtual construction department out of the Phoenix office and interfaces with all 13 offices across the country. He loves that every day is a different and complex puzzle to be solved. In his free time, Mike enjoys time with his family and anything that is kid-related, especially outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, swimming and other sports. 

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Surviving a Rebrand

Our firm just went through a whirl-wind and I survived! Earlier this month, my firm went through a significant transition to unite globally under one name, WSP, and launch a fresh brand and identity. Like many companies out there, we have experienced tremendous growth, both organically and by acquisition. Over 80 companies worldwide make up WSP today.

In the United States, WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff came together in 2014 to form a cobranded firm, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. After extensive research including client and market surveys, internal focus groups and stakeholder feedback, the decision was made to move forward as WSP worldwide. The initial announcement of the name change was released in January with the new brand identity rolled out in early May.


As part of the U.S. corporate communications team, I not only had a front-row seat to the rebrand, I was in the mosh pit. January through May has been a bit of a blur. Even though it was a chaotic time, the experience helped me hone my communications skills, think outside the box, and strategize under pressure. Throughout the process, I learned several valuable lessons. Below are my top five rebranding survival tips based on my recent experience.

1. BE FLEXIBLE! Things change often during the course of a rebranding process. Everything from deadlines being pushed up to meet a new timeline, to unexpected projects tumbling into your lap, to technology challenges. You can’t predict the unpredictable but you can plan, adjust and make the needed accommodations to meet the various project goals for the rebrand. Managing your work flow and deadlines is imperative and you need to use a method that works best for you and your organization.


2. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNIATE, COMMUNICATE. Did I mention you should communicate? If you feel you are over communicating, you are doing it right. Not every person in your organization digests information in the same way or through the same channel. Some people will disregard your emails but will happily read each and every Intranet post while others may find the posters in break areas a great way to catch up on company news. I can’t express how important it is to keep staff engaged and updated during the rebranding process!


3. BE CONSISTENT AND PERSISTENT. When the marketing and communication staff is immersed in the rebrand process and efforts, it’s easy to occasionally take for granted the knowledge we have. We forget that we know a lot more about the rebrand than the rest of the staff. It is crucial that we continue to communicate (through several channels) throughout the process to provide consistent messaging. It is our duty to educate staff on the meaning of the brand as well as keeping staff informed of upcoming key milestone dates and activities. If you say you will send daily or weekly email updates, send daily or weekly email updates. If you have committed to hosting weekly webinars, host weekly webinars. Keeping staff informed and engaged will result in higher levels of buy-in.


4. HAVE FUN WITH IT! All work with and no play can make the rebranding process somewhat tedious. Find something unique and fun that speaks to your organization and can turn staff into brand ambassadors. We found Instagram was a great way to have staff interact and engage with our new name. We asked staff to show their pride in #becomingWSP with the tag and sharing photos that included the WSP name or around WSP projects in their communities. 

Superheroes spelling WSP in the city of brotherly love 

Our Raleigh staff showing their WSP pride on the lawn

Yours truly in Tempe getting off a train at Valley Metro Station after Pat's Run!

5. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! The rebranding exercise is not something that happens overnight and can be a grueling process. To be successful, it will take months of hard work with a lot of long hours and stressful deadlines. Keeping a work-life balance is difficult under normal circumstance; throw rebranding into the mix and all bets are off. During the process, it can be easy to forget to give yourself some ‘me time’. Whether it is having dinner with friends or family, centering yourself at yoga class, or making it to your child’s hockey game, it is essential to give yourself a break. These breaks will help to rejuvenate you and by stepping away for a bit, will help you to refocus and bring new insights to the process.

Suzi Mein, CPSM 
Marketing Communications Manager, WSP USA 
Suzi has worked for WSP USA for the past five and a half years, has been in the A/E/C industry for over 15 years and has been a SMPS member for over three years. In her free time, Suzi likes to disconnect! She enjoys traveling and outdoor activities including hiking, camping, boating, scuba diving, fishing and SUP. 

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Inside Scoop on Getting Recognized

 As Marketers, we are constantly compiling statistics, photographs and information about our colleagues or projects and nominating them for awards. Why? Awards are awesome. Awards contribute to your firm’s success through visibility, validation, testimony, reputation and they differentiate your company or colleague apart from competitors. We often put in hours, days and even weeks filling out award applications for everyone, except ourselves.

In case you missed out, the SMPS Marketing Communications Awards competition is the perfect opportunity to receive the credit you deserve! The MCA’s recognize excellence, creativity and results in marketing communications produced by professional Arizona services firms in the A/E/C industry. The 2017 MCA event, chaired by Nicole Christy, was booming with competition and bright creations this year!

The competition included the most innovative campaigns of 2016 for awards across several categories and three individual nominations: Marketer of the Year, Technical Professional of the Year, and Up and Comer. The individual nominations are an opportunity to recognize some of our most impactful marketers in Arizona! Congratulations to two very deserving winners: Maisha Christian Hagan, Marketing Director at Jokake and Charlie Crews, Interactive Marketing Specialist at Small Giants!


How do you become an Up and Comer or Marketer of the Year? How do you know if you qualify for such a prestigious award? Maisha and Charlie reveal their tips below!

What is your position, length you’ve been at your current company and how long have you been in this industry?

CC: I work as a marketing specialist at an AEC marketing and business development firm, Small Giants. I began my career at Small Giants in 2014 and worked previously as a marketing assistant at two large general contracting firms in the Valley while finishing my degrees at ASU.

MCH: I’ve been an AEC marketer for ten years. This June I’ll be celebrating six years with Jokake Construction.

When filling out the award application, did you provide statistics or examples of how you impacted your firm in 2016? If so, can you share some of those examples?

CC: In my application we focused on my contributions to my firm, commitment to the industry, talents and specialties, involvement in SMPS and samples of the work I have completed for my clients. My examples ranged from national website redesigns, managing large multi-discipline projects, advertising strategy, and proposal development. 

MCH: Yes. As a result Jokake had a 93% response rate to the 2016 employee survey which reported the firm had an 89.02 employee engagement score (a twenty point increase from a 2014 survey). I was the liaison between Jokake’s employee base and a third-party employee survey conductor.

Also, after dramatically restructuring the mentorship program to illicit more engagement from and provide more value to program participants, the number of participants increased from 12 to 19 (increased revenue from $700 to $1,100) and protégé participation throughout the entire program experienced a 50% increase from 2015 to 100%.

Did you have family, friends or colleagues help you with your submittal? Why do you think that might have been beneficial?

CC: My team helped me to assemble my submittal which was very helpful and appreciated. So often we are experts at talking about our firms and team members, yet it is so difficult to talk about ourselves! This was the case for me and I was very thankful for their support and assistance with the submittal.  

MCH: I didn’t. I didn’t even tell anyone I was submitting.

What does being awarded Up and Comer mean to you?

CC: Up and Comer was such an unexpected win for me, as there are so many incredible up and coming marketers in our industry and SMPS. The award solidifies my passion for the work I do everyday, my commitment to the industry and all the people involved. It was a great accomplishment that gives me the push and drive to strive for the best marketer I can be. 

What does being awarded Marketer of the Year mean to you?

MCH: It’s a reminder of how blessed I am to be able to do work that excites me for a company and people I respect in an industry I love.

Maisha said that her Mom was easily the most proud of her for this great accomplishment. Proof in text message above!


Any additional advice to those hoping to submit for one of the above awards in the future?

CC: Stay with your passion! If you enjoy marketing and love what you do, try to get more involved by volunteering or signing up for a committee. Not only will find great friends, mentors and ideas but you can set yourself apart by contributing in a meaningful way.

MCH: Submitting for Marketer of the Year is a great opportunity to step back from the task-driven, day-to-day activities and see the overall impact you make to your firm and industry. Don’t be shy about promoting yourself or your accomplishments for the Marketer of the Year.

Travis McCoy, Managing Director at Schaefer, was also recognized at the MCA’s this year! He was surprised at the event and recognized with this year’s President’s Choice Award! This was awarded to Travis for his activism and leadership with the chapter all last year.

“Having just completed my first full year with SMPS, I was extremely surprised and honored to win this award. Not only have I been welcomed into the organization with open arms, but to win this award shows that I’ve been able to add value to SMPS as well. This has definitely motivated me to increase my involvement within SMPS,” said Travis McCoy.

So what are you waiting for? Start tracking your great progress and efforts during 2017 so you are ready to submit for next year’s MCA’s!

Congratulations to all MCA 2017 winners:

  • Holiday Piece: JE Dunn Construction
  • Video: The Weitz Company
  • Website: TankGirl Marketing
  • Special Event: Concord General Contracting
  • Project Pursuit: The Weitz Company
  • Marketer of the Year: Maisha Christian Hagan, Jokake Construction
  • Up and Comer: Charlie Crews, Small Giants
  • President’s Choice: Travis McCoy, Schaefer



Ashley Black
Marketing Administrator, Ryan Companies US, Inc.

Ashley joined the AEC industry in January 2015 and became a member of SMPS shortly after. She is the current Blog Chair and a member on the hospitality committee. Ashley loves hot yoga, basketball, cooking and spending time with her newborn niece, Halle. 

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One CAN Make a Difference

Did you know that every 13 seconds, a child dies from hunger related causes? YOU can make a difference! Get involved with Canstruction® - this year marks the 11th Anniversary of Phoenix Canstruction®, a unique charity art exhibit in which AEC firms collect cans and compete to ‘can’struct the best exhibit.  After the show, cans are donated to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. 

It is the mission of the SMPS Arizona Chapter to advocate, educate and collaborate on behalf of the AEC industry to build business for a thriving economy.  What better way to accomplish this mission than to lend our time, energy, and creativity to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, through Canstruction®? 

Five Tips to Simplify the Canstruction® Process

1. Draft a Large Team

Just because there are only five builders permitted during the build-day, doesn’t mean your team needs to be limited to just five people. In fact, the more the merrier! There are several phases of this event – just like a real project. Make sure you have committed team members for the following: 

  • Captain – This person will handle all of the organizational tasks and makes sure your team stays on track and doesn’t miss any deadlines.

  • Architect & Engineer  – Make your life easier and get an architect and an engineer on your team to design the structure. This person will understand structural integrity so that your structure stays intact for the two-week viewing period.  

  • Contractor/Builders – Gather a few “builders” that can help create the structure on build day. This is a long day of building so the more people you have on your team, the better.

  • DE-canstructors – Your team will return to the Convention Center on August 12 for break-down day. This process is much faster than Build Day and the more team members present, the faster it goes. 


2. Pick simple & easy-to-stack cans

When designing your structure, try to choose common cans. Rare cans, especially rare-sized cans, will be very difficult to order in bulk and will present problems down the road! Keep it simple and pick cans that not only work with your design but will be easy to find. It’s not a bad idea to go to the store and stack a few cans together to see which fit together best.  
*Important Note: Cans that look similar in size can be slightly different, which can have a huge effect on structure stabililty.

3. Create the final design as soon as possible and secure your cans as early as possible

These two steps should be simultaneous. Aim to have your design close to final by the time registration closes, then, shop for your cans immediately. This way, you have plenty of time to adjust your design should you struggle to find the cans needed to complete your structure. Ordering your cans eight weeks in advance is recommended.

4. Plan a pre-build day off site

Take an afternoon and test build at least some of your structure before build day. The last thing you want to do is get to the event and not be able to finish your structure. Also, this will make the process faster on the actual event day.

5. Stay hydrated and fueled

If you are going to build just a few hours then pack some water and snacks, but if you plan to build all day long, be sure and bring some lunch to scarf down in between stacking cans. 

Now that you have your tips for success, make a difference for hungry families in Phoenix and register for Canstruction® 2017

Canstruction® comes around at just the right time of year (Build Day is July 29, 2017). Donations are typically at their lowest during the summer months with many donors heading out to cooler climates, while children are out of school for the summer and not getting their typical breakfast and lunches at school. Hungry families are left to weather the Phoenix summers, leaving the demand is at its highest. 

We use our creative skills every day, through design or communication, to help achieve goals for ourselves and our respective employers.  Why not extend those skills toward a creative event that both involves and benefits the community? 

You can register your team here for the 2017 competition through Friday, May 19th, 2017.

The competition during Canstruction® can get pretty fierce! Just check out some of last year’s amazing creations:


Image 1- Best Meal, Most Cans & People’s Choice 
What BB Ate: Gensler, PK Associates, Corporate Interior Systems, Airpark Signs & Graphics, and Holder

Image 2 - Judges Choice
Super Can Man: Corgan, Buehler & Buehler and Wood Patel

Important Dates:

  • Deadline for team registration is May 19th
  • Build-Day is July 29th
  • Decanstruction is August 12th  


Sarah Clegg at [email protected] or 480-829-6000
Dana Varieur at [email protected] or 602-957-1155 


Taryn Marie Herbert
Corporate Marketing Coordinator, Rider Levett Bucknall

Taryn joined the AEC industry in 2015 and is a Corporate Marketing Coordinator with Rider Levett Bucknall. She joined SMPS this year and is loving the organization already; she ventured to Philadelphia for Build Business and is a member of the Blog Committee! Taryn loves creating writing - she's been published! She is training for a marathon right now and loves to read, run, hike, camp and practice yoga in her free time.

Ashley Black
Marketing Administrator, Ryan Companies US, Inc.

Ashley joined the AEC industry in January 2015 and became a member of SMPS shortly after. She is the current Blog Chair and a member on the hospitality committee. Ashley loves hot yoga, basketball, cooking and spending time with her newborn niece, Halle. 

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Michelle's Mini Illustrator Tutorial

Adobe Illustrator – did you just get the chills? Fear no more Marketers! Michelle Dsouza, Marketing Coordinator at T.Y. Lin International, has come to the rescue!

How many times have you found the perfect graphic on Shutterstock, but couldn’t edit it in InDesign or Photoshop so you just didn’t use it? Or, for firms with graphic designers, how many times have you received a graphic from your graphic designer and keep going back to them to have it tweaked until it’s just perfect? That stops today.

Michelle has created an extremely helpful handout which provides quick tips and shortcuts for editing vectors in Adobe Illustrator. You can access this document here.

Mini Q&A With Michelle:

Q: Michelle, How did you develop your Illustrator skills?
A: I was born this way....kidding! I continue to work on it, everyday, as much as I can. I love to ‘google everything’, check out tutorial videos and articles, follow other designers in the field and listen to design podcasts. The best piece of advice that I got (and still follow) is If you like something you see, recreate it as best you can – you end up learning so much in the process!

Q: When working in Illustrator, I've noticed that sometimes I get stuck clicking on all of the vector's layers instead of just the layer I'm trying to edit. How can I make sure to just select the layer that I need? The multiple blue lines drive me crazy! 
A: Most vectors (when downloaded) are usually grouped or inside a clipping mask since they contain a mix of vector shapes, text and background elements. The many blue lines are all selected objects that are shown once you unmask/ungroup the whole vector. To undo or separate them:

  • Select everything (Ctrl+A) and ungroup by selecting Object (from the Application Bar) > Ungroup (Shift+ Ctrl+G). You can always group them back by selecting Object > Group (Ctrl+G)

  • If it's in a clipping mask, select everything (Ctrl+A) and select Object > Clipping Mask > Release or Ctrl+Alt+7

Also, if you use the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow), it will ‘directly’ select anything that’s part of a group of a mask).

Are you ready to learn how to edit a vector in illustrator?


Michelle D'Souza 
Marketing Coordinator, T.Y. Lin International 

Michelle has been immersed in the A/E/C Industry for about five years and a SMPS member for the past 10 months. Michelle is a Social Media Champion for the SMPS Arizona Publicity Branch and a recent Member of the Month award winner! Michelle loves to work on fun design projects, cook and travel as much as she can in her free time. 



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Preparing for Your Review

When I walked into my first SMPS event nine-and-a-half years ago, I had no idea what the next decade had in store or how it would change my life. I raised my hand to be a member of the newsletter committee … and eight years later, I began my three-year commitment as the SMPS Arizona president. I always heard people say they owe their career path to what they learned in SMPS. I thought I understood what they meant, but I didn’t fully comprehend it until just a couple of months ago.

I knew that being chapter president would change my life, but I could not completely comprehend the immense results—nothing dramatic, but phenomenal growth. My annual review happens to fall in line with the SMPS year, which worked out well as I wrapped up my presidency and started to think about what I wanted to do next. As I prepared for my review, I expressed my sincerest gratitude to both my boss and my company for all of their support over the past two years. I knew the presidency would make me a better person, but I never stopped to think about how it would make me a better marketing professional. So, then, I began to look back with 20-20 hindsight. I had the incredible experience to lead a great chapter and help to accomplish some amazing goals as part of our three-year strategic plan. It was only after having walked through the presidency that I could see the bene?ts I can directly apply to my job.

I walked into my review having compiled my major accomplishments and contributions for the previous year, outlined five major goals for the upcoming year, and asked for a promotion to be on the executive leadership team. I drew direct parallels from my experience as president and how that translates into my ability to be a better marketing director and leader at Corbins Electric. Ultimately, I was not given the promotion right now, but my boss explained why and then offered me a Plan B to help with my goals and continued professional development. He didn’t have to offer the Plan B, so I’m excited that he proposed another avenue for me to grow and continue to make contributions. He also explained that not getting the promotion wasn’t anything personal, and he knows I am a significant member of the team and bring value to the company. He went on to say that the opportunity may be available in the future.

So what does this mean? It means now my boss knows that I’m interested in future company leadership, and I’m committed to the success of the company. I could have walked out upset and wanting to leave, but instead, I decided to embrace the opportunities with Plan B and move forward. We’re at a great place and have so much growth ahead of us. I’m in this for the long haul and excited to be a part of the company’s growth and contribute to the bottom line. Two years ago, I would have never walked in to my boss and asked to be a member of the executive leadership team. I learned leadership skills and how to ask for things I want as a direct result of my involvement with SMPS.

As I enter this next stage in both my SMPS and professional careers, here are a few lessons learned that I will continue to remember and utilize:

  • Marketing does have a seat at the table—and we are a valuable asset to the team
  • You don’t know unless you ask—and they won’t know you’re interested if you don’t take a risk
  • You should always leverage knowledge gained and skills developed in SMPS

Here are three things to consider when preparing for your review (and note to myself to do this year):

  • Draw direct correlation to how your efforts affect the company’s bottom-line
  • Be prepared with your accomplishments – your boss won’t always remember everything you’ve done the past year
  • Draw direct correlation to how your SMPS experience makes you a better professional and stronger asset to your company

What a ride! Thank you to SMPS for all of the opportunities that helped to create the person I am today.

Please click here to download a detailed review form or here for a general review form – both created by our very own, Cricket Robertson.  

Cricket Robertson, CPSM
Marketing Director, Corbins Electric

Cricket is the Marketing Director at Corbins Electric and the Past President of SMPS Arizona. Cricket is a huge SMPS advocate who took up rowing last year! She is now on the Rio Salado Rowing Club Novice Crew!

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