Build Business Recap: Communication Best Practices, the Words and Why to Use Them


Didn’t have the opportunity to attend Build Business in Philadelphia this year? Do not fear, SMPS CF is here! We are providing you with a Build Business teach back series from our board member’s most valuable sessions.

Presented by: Dorothy Verdon, CPSM, and Amanda Gibney Weko

I had the pleasure of attending Build Business in Philadelphia this year through our generous chapter’s presidential budget for registration and I am thrilled to blog about one of the sessions. Given this is my first blog ever, pleasebear with me and let me give you the highlights.

Writing Tips:

Be specific. Get to the point; say what you mean; mean what you say; and do it in the most concise manner possible.

Tone and voice. Writing is not like talking; when you talk, whether it’s on the phone or face to face, tone, pitch, volume and non-verbal sounds like laughter come into play. In written communication, especially e-mails, this is not the case, hence the digital-age invention of the emoticon. While we are not suggesting emoticons be used in formal business correspondence, paying attention to tone and keeping it consistent throughout your document is important. Positive is good, passive voice is not. Avoid the “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, may, might” syndrome. You can and you will.

Redundancy and wordiness. Avoid repeating yourself except for carefully planned emphasis of a specific point. When you can say it with a single word, do so. It is amazing how many ways there are to say “because,” but in writing, less is more.

Word usage. Don’t allow spelling demons to possess you! Learn the meaning, proper usage and correct spelling of commonly misused words like effect/affect, comprise/compose, principle/principal, to/too and lead/led. Avoid industry clichés such as bottom line, action item, big picture, extensive (or significant) experience.

All of the above was very helpful, however things turned in a direction I was less enthusiastic about however you may or may not appreciate depending on your role within marketing.

Interview Tips with the media:

Before an interview with a journalist:

  • Know the reporter, publication/program, audience, type of story, and interview format.
  • Have a goal. What do you wish to accomplish as a result of this interview?
  • Know what you want to say. Review your message points.
  • Jot down likely questions and appropriate answers.
  • Remember your bridging phrases:
  • What’s really important here is . . .
  • That brings up an interesting point . . .
  • I think what you’re asking is . . .
  • The fact is . . .
  • You may be interested to know . . .
  • I think the answer to that question will come after
  • I have explained . . .
  • Have you ever thought about . . .

During an interview with a journalist:

  • Speak in “headlines” – offer conclusion first, briefly and directly and back it up with facts.
  • Don’t over answer – short answers are preferable.
  • Don’t be fixated by the question. “Bridge” to a related point you want to make.
  • Asked about a problem? Talk about a solution.
  • Don’t let false charges, facts or figures offered by a reporter stand uncorrected.
  • Don’t repeat a reporter’s negative statement or slurs.
  • Frame your reply as a positive statement.
  • Speak clearly. Avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Be engaging, likable, interesting – add color.
  • Don’t know the answer? Don’t fake it. If appropriate, assure the reporter you will find and provide the required facts in a timely manner, or refer the reporter to another source.
  • Keep cool. Don’t be provoked.
  • Don’t criticize.
  • Don’t speculate.
  • Don’t go “off the record.”
  • Don’t say “no comment.”
  • Never lie.

A FEW MORE PIECES OF GOOD ADVICE . . . The following links offer recommendations for writers, PR pros, and marketers.


– Tara Bleakley, Business Development
TLC Engineering for Architecture, Inc.


Build Business Recap: Trends in Sports Design


Didn’t have the opportunity to attend Build Business in Philadelphia this year? Do not fear, SMPS CF is here! We are providing you with a Build Business teach back series from our board member’s most valuable sessions.

Trends in Sports Design:  It’s all About the Experience


  • Kevin Lewis, Sports Practice Director, Henderson Engineers


  • Logan Gerken, Director of Project Development for Sports Group,
    Mortenson Construction
  • Mike Haramia, Sports Practice Leader, Henderson Engineers
  • Ryan Sickman, Director of Sports, Gensler
  • Norman Vosschulte, Director of Guest Experience, Philadelphia Eagles


  • Displacement ventilation to provide fan comfort – even in open air stadiums, providing heated/cooled air to create thermal comfort
  • Medical inclusivity – example Mayo sports clinic in Timberwolves stadium
  • Mixed use development – build around stadiums to help create destination, as well as help offset stadium construction costs
  • Greater use of public/private partnerships
  • College level facilities getting more sophisticated, on level with professional teams
  • Use of augmented reality to help owners ‘see’ stadium, help raise donor funds for construction

Interesting Stories Shared:

Gentler – Showed an amazing video rendering of what they proposed for the Washington Wizards stadium at their interview. They were the only DC firm that made the shortlist, thought they were very well positioned to win, so invested in technology to show their concepts.  Lost the project to a Detroit firm – didn’t pay enough attention to the chemistry with the owner and what they wanted, instead got caught up in technology and what Gensler wanted to show.

Gensler again – Texas A & M realized that current students aren’t as engaged with the home football games as traditionally and wanted to understand why. They thought it had to do with the limited bandwidth in the stadium and were getting ready to invest in significant technology improvements to the stadium to draw the students back. Gensler did a pro bono study to help understand why – several team members spent two home game weekends in Austin and during the football games covered Austin to find where the students were and asked a lot of questions. Turned out technology had little to do with the problem. Student complaints were that the student ticket policy was bad, the food and alcohol situation didn’t meet their expectations, that Austin has great music almost every weekend and if you go to the game, you miss the live music. The school solved several of these by awarding student tickets differently, allowing students to sit in more than one section of the stadium, creating a student only tailgate area with food trucks (and wrist bands for those old enough to drink), decreased the number of ads that run during the game and replaced them with live video streams from various music venues around Austin, simulcast some music events and also made some improvements to the Wi-Fi – result was that without spending nearly as much money as they thought they needed to, students came back to the games.

Philly Eagles – how they select design/construction partners – unique in public as City owns the stadium, but looks for relationship, chemistry, understanding of the issues and expects educated questions from their partners.

– Cheryl A. Maze
Principal / Corporate Marketing &
Business Development Manager
TLC Engineering for Architecture