How do you get published? To help answer this, here’s Aleesha Callahan, editor of Australian Design Review [editor note: at the time of this interview Aleesha was ADR editor, now she’s Indesignlive’s new editor). Having studied and practised (briefly) as an interior designer, Aleesha is now firmly in publishing. Here are her tips for getting published in the design media:
VCC: What advice would you give to an architect or designer wanting to pitch a project to the media?
Aleesha: First of all, before doing a bulk send-out to every publication you can think of, consider which one would suit your project best. For example, if it’s a sustainable project, target those titles that specialise or prioritise sustainability first, and if you get knocked back (which does happen), then go down the list to the next most appropriate publication.
Also, consider why you want to get published. Are you using the publicity to get new clients? Or is it something you want to put up on your website or showcase to the industry? This line of questioning will also influence which publications you should target. If it’s about getting seen by potential new clients, then you should really look at reaching out to consumer titles over industry ones and vice versa.
If you’re looking to go into print – offer exclusivity! Many online publications want exclusivity these days, so consider that before you start hitting send.
VCC: What makes a media pitch stand out?
Aleesha: The ones that stand out are clear and clearly targeted – they have a brief overview of the project and mention why they think it’s suitable, along with a selection of 10-12 low-res images. And don’t be afraid to follow up! Sometimes we’re really slammed and we read it, but don’t file it away or remember it. A gentle reminder a few weeks later is always worthwhile.
VCC: How can architects and designers better promote themselves and the work they do?
Aleesha: I think architects and, to a lesser extent, interior designers, sometimes suffer from being seen as elitist. This is often a misconception, but I think letting your work and your personality shine through are really important tools of promotion.
One thing I really hope architects and designers start to realise is that being published online can bring more views and a much wider reach, and shelf life, than print. Yes, it’s nice to have something to hold in your hands, but think about how often you sit down and read a mag cover-to-cover. Then consider how long you sit scrolling and skimming articles on your phone. Being published online also means you get a link straight back to your website.
VCC: How do you think the media and PR industry is changing? Are there any key trends emerging in the industry?
Aleesha: I think social media has democratised the landscape a bit. Now it’s possible for pretty much anyone to become a publisher through blogs and other channels. People also consume media in a very different way these days, it’s 24/7, in a sense. I also think Instagram has been a force for good for many architects and designers – it opens up the industry and lets people peek inside and glimpse behind the scenes. Particularly when it’s done well and with a bit of personality!
In terms of trends, I think social media will continue to pervade our lives, but rather than being skeptical or afraid, take it as an opportunity to showcase the beautiful work you do.
As much as the death of print has been touted for a long time now, it’s not dying, it’s just changing. It’s becoming more specialised and a lot more independent publications are cropping up. It’s a lot more fragmented, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
VCC: What does the future hold for the architecture and design industry in Australia?
Aleesha: That’s a hard question! As a stab in the dark, I think the skills of designers and architects are very sought after – problem solving, lateral thinking, and creativity combined with logic. I don’t think the need and demand will go away anytime soon. But perhaps architects and designers will look for careers in similar-but-different industries?
I do believe Australian design is world-class. There is a certain finesse that people just expect from our built environment, whether it be a skyscraper or cool new café. I hope that more experimentation in alternative housing models continues. And experimentation in alternative materials – bearing in mind that Australian designers are working within one of strictest and most heavily regulated sectors in the world.
VCC: What stories are you looking for at the moment?
Aleesha: A beautiful and unique project will never go astray. And there are some topics that always perform well – modular/prefab, Japanese design and emerging technologies. Beyond that, I’m always looking for stories that bring a new perspective on a topic. We certainly don’t get enough opinion pieces.
Also, regional stuff! Being based in Melbourne I have to always make sure things don’t end up being too Melbourne-centric. I know there’s plenty of great regional projects out there, but they’re often hard to find.
A big thank you to Aleesha for kindly sharing her insights.
"We certainly don’t get enough opinion pieces."
Aleesha Callahan, former editor of Australian Design Review