Public Outreach Committee

November 14



After my election, 2016 AIA President Russell A. Davidson, FAIA, appointed me to the Public Outreach Committee. The trip to Austin was to meet with Roy Spence's public relations team who have been consultants to AIA on its public awareness campaign, notably the ilookup ads and film challenge. The focus of the meeting was to review initial ideas about the 2017 public awareness campaign.


Roy Spence has been working with AIA both in his capacity as co-founder of one of the nation's premiere public relations firms and as founder of the Purpose Institute. Much of AIA's Repositioning parallel's the recommendations of the Purpose Institute which assists organizations in understanding their core mission and how to align resources to advance their mission.


The sense of both the consultants and committee is that the ilookup campaign was successful in helping the public, and particularly potential decision-makers, recognize that much of the surrounding world is designed by architects. In addition, taken as a whole, the ilookup ads and film challenge constitute a substantial body of work that can and should be drawn on for national, state, and local component outreach efforts.


Spence's team proposed that the 2017 public awareness campaign dig into the next stratum, addressing the impacts of architecture more tangibly than the ilookup campaign. Three alternative concepts were "pitched" and discussed. The team will rework their ideas based on this feedback. Also, an overview of how AIA can combine "owned" (social media, website), "paid" (digital, ads, events), and "earned" (publicity) public awareness elements.


Working with Roy Spence is a joy. He opened the meeting, conducted only a few days after the 2016 national elections, while many heated words were flying through the AIA community, reminding us that archtiects have value because we care, give meaning, envision what's not here, and are change agents for the better. Over the course of the day, he shared many other pearls of wisdom including: "Fess up when you mess up" and "Precious, get over it and get on with it."