I am preparing my talk for Wednesday’s CIMCIG conference at the Building Centre in London (a happy return to the venue of Be2camp 2008 which I co-organised last year). The theme for the conference is Downturn Marketing: A survivors’ guide to recession, and I will be speaking about “Online: The rise and rise“:

Many are focussing on the apparently cheap alternatives offered by online marketing methods. Is it really the panacea it occasionally claims to be, and can we make a step change in ROI through enthusiastic adoption of novel communication such as Wikis, Tweets and Blogs?

(For me, the event will be notable in one major respect. While I am down to speak as head of corporate communications at BIW Technologies, this conference will be the first time that I will be representing my reformed consultancy business, pwcom.)

I plan to reflect on the major changes that have taken place in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) marketing and PR world. When I started learning my trade  just before the early 1990s recession, the worldwide web was still some years away. Even when CERN opened the web to the world in 1993, it took a couple of years before my then employer (Tarmac) decided that it should have even a rudimentary website.

Just over a decade later, websites are now a key part of the AEC marketing promotion mix, and just as the industry faces an even deeper recession, we are seeing new web technologies change the online landscape. I have written before about the limited take-up of web 2.0 technologies by AEC professionals, but – perhaps reflecting the slightly higher levels of AEC media web 2.0 adoption – I believe that now is the time to invest in social media as an integral part of corporate and marketing and PR. However, it is not necessarily a cheap option – particularly if organisations have to rethink how they communicate, moving from approaches based on broadcasting to becoming listeners and sharers. I wonder how this message will go down on Wednesday?

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