by Shannon Eckhart | June 16, 2014
In this series, staff at the national headquarters of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) discuss the details of their efforts to define, teach and promote best practices in design-build. In this post, DBIA’s Director of Public Relations, Shannon Eckhart, describes how the recent redesign of DBIA’s Integration Quarterly (IQ) magazine and the launch of this news site came to fruition, and the reasons behind it.
It was my first week of work as Director of Public Relations at DBIA when my new boss, Louis Jenny, asked me to join him for a lunch meeting. Little did I know this meeting in July 2013 was the beginning of an eleven month effort to completely redesign one of DBIA’s core channels for outreach.
During that lunch, we met two gentlemen from Hanley Wood, a noted publisher of design and construction magazines. They asked inquisitive, thought-provoking questions about our communications strategy, which I’d been thinking about since I first accepted the position with DBIA. I wanted us to communicate with our members and industry partners in a fresh, tech-savvy way, but wasn’t certain I knew the best place to start.
Their questions prompted many of my own as I quickly got up to speed in my new role at DBIA. I asked for a follow up meeting with Hanley Wood to see what alternative ideas they might have to offer in terms of a new look and feel for the print and electronic versions of our magazine, Integration Quarterly. We were shown an array of options that really opened our eyes to new possibilities. Over the next several months, we continued to collect examples of fresh and colorful print magazines that caught our attention. This even included an outing with my colleague Geoff Corey to a nearby Barnes & Noble in downtown Washington, D.C. where we scanned crowded racks of magazines while engaging in a healthy debate to zero in on what other publications do well (or do poorly) that we wanted to imitate (or avoid). This lengthy process allowed us to develop deeper thinking around who we are as a brand, a delivery method and an institute.
Along the way, we also began to discuss if there was a more effective delivery method to reach our members (and those industry partners who we hope will become members). Digital versions of DBIA’s magazine have been available online, but they were hard to read and even more difficult to share on social media. We considered putting individual articles on the DBIA website; after all, that’s where we house our blog, which was doing rather well. However, we realized having so much information on DBIA.org could make it overwhelming for users, and take away from our website’s important focus on educational offerings, conference updates and membership services. Plus, we were hoping to attract a wider audience; reaching everyone from those who advocate for and embrace design-build project delivery all the way to those who haven’t even heard of it – or tried it yet.
Since research continues to show that professionals in our industry are on the move during the workday, a more nimble communications channel was critical to keep the latest design-build news, best practices and research at people’s fingertips. Finally, after a lengthy brainstorming session, our Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach, Louis Jenny, verbalized our thoughts, saying, “If only we could have all the latest news and information in one central location.” Our future partner from Hanley Wood, Simon Hyoun, responded, “Of course you can. It’s called a microsite.” Our interest was officially peaked. We were on our way to making a final decision and signing a contract! Not long after, we presented our proposal to Lisa Washington, DBIA Executive Director/CEO. She enthusiastically gave us the green light to proceed and Hanley Wood officially became our new magazine publisher and strategic counselor.
While Louis, Geoff and I worked to select a new color palette, font family and a fresh design for the print edition of our Integration Quarterly magazine at Hanley Wood’s offices, we also began drawing up on paper the basic design we had in mind for the electronic news site. We wanted it to be user-friendly, featuring the most important updates on the homepage, and a searchable database of articles separated into categories. Hanley Wood was able to take our rough sketches and creations, and turn them into the site you’re on right now: DesignBuildDoneRight.com.
After many hours of internal discussion and decision-making in the first half of 2014, DBIA is proud to announce that the first issue of our newly redesigned Integration Quarterly magazine (see comparison to previous version above), along with our corresponding electronic news site, just launched last week! The electronic site allows for mobile access, more sharable features and a much greater reach as we work to promote the benefits of design-build to new audiences.
We encourage you to share this blog post with your friends and co-workers who would enjoy this new site (that also includes electronic, sharable versions of Integration Quarterly magazine feature articles), and keep an eye out for the next issue of print magazine slated to mail in August. In the meantime, please visit our electronic news site often to read about the latest issues and opportunities facing and advancing our industry!