Architects target City for better office design

When international architecture company Gensler decided to raise the profile of its UK workplace practice it approached professional services PR specialist Man Bites Dog to convince board-level executives that office design – a subject unlikely to keep the average CEO awake at night – is a critical business issue.

Campaign These Four Walls: The Real British Office
Client Gensler
PR team In-house and Man Bites Dog
Timescale April to July 2005
Budget £11,000

The PR team promoted awareness of Gensler's services, personnel and creative approach to office design.

Objectives
To raise awareness of the Gensler brand and position the architect as an expert in office design. To encourage new-business enquiries, particularly from the legal, financial services and media sectors.

Strategy and Plan
To engage business leaders and journalists, Man Bites Dog produced evidence of a link between good office design and productivity. Working with research expert Vanson Bourne and the Office for National Statistics, the PR team produced a report showing that poorly designed offices cut UK productivity by 20 per cent annually, equivalent to a loss of £135bn every year in the service sector alone.

Entitled 'These Four Walls: The Real British Office', the 40-page document was endorsed by Design Council chairman Sir George Cox and featured images and case studies of Gensler's flagship projects in target sectors, showcasing alternatives to traditional British office design.

The report was launched to business and trade media on 28 July, with Gensler's European director of workplace, Gary Wheeler, acting as the firm's spokesperson.

Measurement and Evaluation
For audience reach and City credibility the Financial Times was top of Gensler's list, and Man Bites Dog secured a half-page exclusive in the paper's Business Life section. The story also ran in all four international editions of the FT.

This provided a launch-pad for interest from titles including The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Washington Post. In addition, Gensler senior associate Evelyn Fujimoto conducted a critique of the design of Radio 5 Live's offices on-air, while Wheeler was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland.

News and features coverage extended to 19 regional titles ranging from the Aberdeen Press & Journal to the Plymouth Evening Herald. Trade press coverage is ongoing with highlights to date including The Law Society Gazette and Human Resources.

Results
The firm has recorded more than 8,840 hits to the report page on its
website and 40 enquiries for more information. This includes requests from institutions such as Reading University, the University of Liverpool and fellow architect Sir Norman Foster's office.

Gensler is now planning to roll out a similar campaign globally. According to media evaluation by Mantra, all coverage related to the Real British Office campaign promoted the message that office design has an impact on productivity and positioned Gensler's architects as experts in their field.

'Man Bites Dog delivered a compelling report,' says Gensler head of PR and communications Alessandra Almeida, who adds that it has also 'led to a number of other opportunities, including speaking engagements and client events'.

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