Many design and construction firms will kick off 2016 with a strategic planning session, or at least a meeting to discuss sales, marketing, and operations for the year. Mass shooting security is an issue that should be on your agenda because we are on the cusp of this trend, which has the potential to alter the Built Environment. Your commitment to designing, building, or supplying construction equipment or materials to support public safety must become a recurring theme within your marketing efforts starting now.
The San Bernardino shooting was a stark reminder that we live in dangerous times. Since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in the United States, according to FBI statistics. The trend shows no sign of letting up either.
The Unsung Role of AEC Firms
Our military and first responders are the most visible when a mass shooting occurs, but you play a role, as well, since you help to define the setting. Because the design and construction industry is directly responsible for the layout of buildings, sites, and transportation facilities across the country, AEC firms can help to hinder or possibly even prevent mass homicides through smart design. Design is no longer about providing spaces for people to gather, find shelter, and circulate; it’s also about facilitating safety in light of the recent mass shooting trend. Terrorism has already changed our way of life and this trend is poised to follow suit.
The floorplan of a building or layout of a site directly affects public safety in ways that aren’t always readily apparent. I learned this years ago after securing a position on a Design-Build team and competing for a large prison complex. Our general civil engineering firm, which was tasked with site design and surveying, learned a few lessons from members of the design team that focused on corrections work. For example, the diameter of underground utilities running under the fence had to be small enough to prevent prisoner escape. Also, trees had to be placed to avoid blocking shots from the guard tower in the event of a fleeing inmate.
Mass shooting security is and will remain in the forefront of your clients’ minds, whether they be developers or public agencies. Safety occupies a spot on Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs and it has been compromised for all Americans. Your clients realize that mass shootings don’t just occur at shopping malls, churches, stadiums, and airports. Crowded bridges and roadways can be targets also, so all infrastructure is at stake. Your marketing should always focus on how you solve problems for customers, and this is a serious problem.
Mass Shooting Security & AEC Marketing Strategy
Forward-thinking AEC firms must begin incorporating mass shooting security into their overall marketing strategy. You don’t need to rebrand as a niche security-focused firm or rewrite all of your marketing collateral, you should evaluate your entire marketing strategy and identify ways to tastefully incorporate your awareness of mass shooting security and perhaps your experience implementing it.
It will take time to build a portfolio of specific experience, but you might highlight security features such as security bollards, blast-resistant barriers, secured entrances and exits, or surveillance systems. AEC firms that have done work with such agencies as DOD, GSA, and the Army Corps of Engineers will have a head start with relevant qualifications, while others will require more time and effort.
Your marketing should reflect your dedication to designing and building safe facilities. It should also explain your proactivity outside of the required scope of a specific project. Is there a more noble cause than playing a role in national security? This is a great time to harness the power of groupthink by bringing your team to the table.
The following questions are a starting point to working mass shooting security into your overall marketing strategy:
- What projects have you done that included a security element and which members of your team were involved?
- Have you collaborated with a design team or owner to implement or improve building security in some way?
- Are you a contractor with experience building safety features?
- Is your design team experimenting with building floorplans or site layouts to prevent, hinder, or facilitate safety during mass shootings?
- Have you convinced an owner to take an alternative approach to improve security?
- If you’re a construction equipment distributor, what measures have you taken to secure your equipment at a jobsite or your facility?
- If you supply construction materials, how are your products being used to improve security?
Once you establish your firm’s role and track record with mass shooting security, it’s time to tell the story. You can then tell that story through your marketing tools including: marketing and business plans, e-mail marketing, website content, project descriptions, resumes, social media, public relations, advertising, and video marketing.
Building mass shooting security into your marketing strategy is not a one-time event. The way you design, build, and supply the machinery and materials needed for private and public facilities has been forever changed as it was following the attacks on September 11th. Your goal now is to continue to play a pivotal role in protecting your country and fellow Americans, and to make sure that your clients hear that message loud and clear through your marketing efforts.