I just couldn’t bring myself to write “10 christmas gifts for an architectural photographer” (which appears to be mandatory for every blogger this time of year) and instead wanted to flesh out an idea that’s been milling around in my head for the last couple weeks which i’m going to call an end of year media audit. Way less sexy than buying new camera gear, but probably far more valuable. The idea is to list all the media coverage you’ve had over the last 12 months and assess if:

  1. You’re getting “out there” enough.
  2. What worked well (was the media coverage effective, or just an ego boost).
  3. What can you improve, or change for next year.

When I did this I came across a couple interesting observations

There’s lots of different types of media

When I started to write my list I had things like being published in magazines, blogs etc, but I also started to write down other activities like public speaking events. Not exactly media, but it’s part of getting out there and as i weighed up what was valuable, those public speaking events weighed in pretty high. That was where I got to meet real people and connect with them.

Blog posts

Blogging was an important part of me being able to contact people, and visa versa. I was able to reach out to interesting people all over the world and have a reason to talk to them. That alone makes the time I put into the blog worth while.

Another observation I made was that I stopped writing as much as I used to in 2012. I was creating one post every week, which dropped off to one post every second, or third week. I put that down to time pressures and writing inspiration. What’s important though is maintaining that conversation with the world because the energy of being online only comes to you if you’re putting it out there. As soon as you stop then so do all the benefits.

Social Media

Similar to blogging, my social media use started to slow down during winter. Not sure why. I guess the constant flow of information and interactions with lots and lots of people takes it’s toll. The lesson learnt is that social media isn’t about just having a stream of content pumping out into the world, it’s actually about interacting with real human beings. Once I switched back into gear it was amazing how many good things started to flow. I didn’t realise it at the time, but that little break was a great reminder of why social media is so powerful.

Magazine, blogs etc

Getting my client’s projects published is part of my job, so the more projects published the better. A big part of my media audit this year is touching base with all the different editors and writers I’ve met over the last couple years, to make sure I don’t loose touch with different people, and to figure out who has changed jobs. Once that’s done I need to work on increasing my media network and meeting new contacts. (If you’re reading along drop me a line here)

Books

It’s a little bit early for me to comment too much on books. I’ve been involved with a couple this year, but they’ve only recently been published. It will be interesting to see if they lead to anything, or if they’re just ornaments to strategically place in coffee shops before meeting up with new clients.

Interviews

I did a range of interviews during the year from podcasts, to  written articles, to video clips, and in my opinion they are far more powerful than having photos of any project published. An interview allows you to connect with people. The audience gets to meet you at a personal level, and most importantly you get to share ideas. As an example, think of your favourite architect. You may have seen many photos of their projects which you pin up on your wall and love to bits, but I bet it’s architects who you’ve seen in a documentary, or youtube clip, or radio show, or written interview that you have the strongest connection with. By nature we want to connect with people, not inanimate objects, and that’s what interviews provide. It’s even better if you can include images of your work, because then you get the best of both worlds.

Ideas and leadership

When I did my media audit something I picked up on was that the most successful pieces of media were based around ideas and leadership. When I discussed topics like open sharing of images, redesigning the way we work, and encouraging people to follow their passions, I ended up getting a huge response from both the audience and other media sources. That’s because ideas can be inspiring, controversial, and worth talking about. People don’t remark on boring stuff.

So if you’re still reading along at this point and thinking about making a media plan for 2014 your starting point probably isn’t about magazines and blogs. It’s about figuring out the ideas behind your work that make it engaging. What is it that you believe in? What makes you wake up in the morning to do what you do? And if your projects don’t currently reflect those beliefs, then look to the future. What projects do you want to do and why are they important? Figure that out, and you’ve got something worth talking about.