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March 2011

San Antonio It Is!

The CWA Annual Conference has a new location, and a new name -- CONNECTED 2011

CWA is now accepting proposals from potential speakers for its Annual Conference, which has a new name: CONNECTED 2011.

CONNECTED 2011 will be held in San Antonio this fall. The specific dates and location will soon be announced. There were some great reasons to choose San Antonio including the stunning River Walk, historic Alamo, and renowned Southwestern cuisine. But equally significant is San Antonio’s phenomenal growth, success in attracting business and aggressive investments in infrastructure. “San Antonio is one of the most active construction markets in the country,” said Kim Phelan, executive editor and director of programs for Associated Equipment Distributors, and co-chair of the CWA 2011 Annual Conference Committee. “It promises to provide a great environment in which to learn and network with our peers.” Frank Raczon of GyroHSR will serve as co-chair of the Annual Conference committee. The Conference will include the 2011 CWA Grand Awards Dinner as well as a project tour.

If you are interested in speaking at the conference, now is the time to submit a proposal. An application form can be found on the CWA website.

“We’d like to hear from experts in communications and public relations as well as construction,” said Phelan. “We’re looking for fresh and innovative programming that will help construction writers, marketing communications and public relations professionals succeed in all aspects of their careers.”

A brief overview of the proposed topic, presentation, program and bio is required.  Proposals must be submitted to info@constructionwriters.org on or before April  4, 2011. Please include the email subject line: “2011 Annual Conference Proposal.” Questions should be directed to Deborah J Hodges, executive director at info@constructionwriters.org or by telephone at 1-773-687-8726. 

CWA Networking
Don’t Miss the Biggest Networking Event of CONEXPO-CON/AGG

Conexpo ConaggYou may find it difficult to track down your CWA friends, construction journalists, and other marketing communications professionals among the thousands attendees of CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011, but on March 24, you will undoubtedly find many of them at CWA’s Networking Reception.

Join fellow CWA members, invited guests of CWA, and construction journalists at the Las Vegas Convention Center from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., in Room N227, on the second floor of the North Hall.

“This is a great way for PR professionals, journalists and corporate communications professionals to connect in a relaxed atmosphere, away from the pressures of the show floor,” said Pat Monroe, public relations manager for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), host of the CWA networking reception, and producer of CONEXPO-CON/AGG. According to Monroe, more than 550 media representatives from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the show.

There is no charge to attend the event, which features cocktails, snacks and a 50/50 raffle to benefit the CWA Scholarship Fund. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about CWA and the valuable networking opportunities we offer,” said CWA President Tracie Christie.

Held every three years, CONEXPO-CON/AGG is one of the largest international gathering places for the construction industries. More than 2,000 exhibitors will show their latest innovations on 2.2 million net square feet of exhibit space.

Register to attend this event here.



March 24, 2011
CWA Networking Reception - CONEXPO-CON/AGG
Las Vegas Convention Center
Room N 227, Second Floor, North Hall
Las Vegas, NV
More details soon

Hosted by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).
AEM Logo

It’s Time to Show Your Stuff

CWA Journalism and Photography Awards

You’ve worked diligently, perfected your craft, and now is the time to get the recognition you deserve in order to set your publication apart from the competition. CWA is now accepting entries for its 2011 Journalism and Photography Awards. Our annual award programs serve to recognize excellence and commitment in the field of journalism. Entries must be postmarked by April 20, 2011, and winners will be recognized at the 2011 CWA Grand Awards Ceremony to be held this fall in San Antonio, Texas.

The CWA Journalism and Photography Awards will be presented in seven categories that include:

NEW! The video award is a new category that has been added based on the increasing importance of video to construction industry journalism.

“Obtaining recognition through the 2011 CWA Journalism and Photography Awards is a great way to showcase your professional accomplishments as well as raise the profile of your publication,” said Amber Santor, trade press relations, Caterpillar, Inc. and chair of the Construction Writers Association’s Journalism and Photography Awards Committees. “CWA is proud to recognize the talent and dedication of the industry’s best writers and photographers.”

For entry forms and additional information, visit the “Awards” section of the CWA website (www.constructionwriters.org), contact us at (info@constructionwriters.org or at 1-773-687-8726).


ACA Randall Reilly

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CWA Standout: Chusid Associates

Michael Chusid couldn’t make up his mind between a career in architecture or marketing, so he found a way to combine both. After earning degrees in design and architecture, he worked in product development for a building product firm, and then spent a decade in architectural practice. These experiences taught him how much architects depend on manufacturers for design inspiration and technical support. Recognizing an opportunity, Chusid Associates was born.

Since then, the firm has been a marketing and technical consultant to more than 200 building product manufacturers, and has produced some standout entries in the Construction Writers Association’s (CWA) journalism, photography and corporate communications awards. In 2010, the firm captured three CWA awards, winning in both the corporate communications and e-newsletter categories, and receiving an honorable mention for the Godfrey Award.

Chusid, a Fellow of the Construction Specifications Institute, loves writing about building products, and utilizes his experience as a registered architect, product designer, and certified construction specifier to help building products manufacturers connect with design professionals and contractors. “Our work helps clients sell their products, but our most important service is helping our client’s customers avoid selecting the wrong material for a given construction need,” said Chusid.

Ceilings Plus ImageHis award-winning entry in CWA’s corporate communications competition, the Idea Box™ campaign for Ceilings Plus, shows how the firm delivers positive results for their clients. “Our challenge was to create a piece of collateral that was so useful and attractive that architects would keep it at their desk,” explained Chusid.

The solution became the Idea Box, a perforated anodized aluminum box that Ceilings Plus fabricated with its own CAD/CAM-driven equipment. It contains product samples showcasing their materials, fabrication capabilities, and installation processes. “We needed a visual showpiece,” said Chusid, “something that would appeal to the creative community.” The campaign also included a corporate capabilities brochure as well an Idea Pad™. The magnetized Idea Pad sought to immediately engage architects by offering them an opportunity to “play” with various trapezoid and rhombus shaped metal swatches. The strategy quickly communicated that the design possibilities of Ceilings Plus offered “freedom from the square grid” required by conventional ceiling systems. “We wanted something that the salesman could tuck under his arm and deliver, that the architect would immediately open up and engage with,” added Chusid.

The creative effort did not go unnoticed. According to Chusid, the results have exceeded the client’s expectations, and the company’s sales continue to grow despite the recession.

Chusid’s inspiration comes from clients who are raising the bar for best industry practices. “What excites me about Ceilings Plus, is not only that their products are beautiful, but they represent a higher level of performance at a lower cost than the technologies they replace.”

Chusid credits a talented team of five staff members and five associates for the firm’s continued success over the past 25 years. He also recognizes the value of his membership in CWA. “We have been able to work with CWA members all over the country, both freelance writers and editors, and I am grateful for the way they have been willing to share their expertise,” said Chusid. “Being part of CWA raises my own sense of professionalism, because I can look at the work that other are doing and ask myself how my work compares to the outstanding work that they do.”

By all accounts, very well.

For more information about Chusid Associates visit www.chusid.com and its blog at www.BuildingProductMarketing.com.

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Trade Show Press Events: The Difference between Sizzle and Fizzle

By Jim Parsons

With trade show season once again upon us, companies of all sizes and specialties are jockeying for the attention of construction editors and writers. The goal: to share news of their latest products, introduce new corporate initiatives and leaders, or simply be remembered for a future article.

One of the signature tools for attracting at least a share of the industry spotlight is the press event, a scheduled opportunity designed to focus the journalists’ full attention on the company and its message. The events range from lavish, choreographed affairs rivaling Super Bowl halftime shows to more humble exhibit floor meetings offering press kits and a Q&A.

But whether a company tempts reporters with upscale refreshments or simply permits an extra dip into the communal candy bowl, a poorly planned and executed press event risks being memorable for the wrong reasons. As a result, journalists are left longing not for more information, but for the half- to full hour of their lives back.

Baltimore-based construction journalist Judy Schriener speaks for many of her peers in putting “news, not fluff” atop her list of press event must-haves. Companies should also be ready with “interviews and fact sheets when we need them, plus access to the top people, not simply the PR folks.” Even better, Schriener adds, is meeting “the folks who actually did the work on whatever they’re talking about.”

A recent survey conducted by the Publications in Construction and Agriculture (PICA) group of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) reveals many other press event likes and dislikes among trade press journalists.

For example, companies should be considerate of the reporters’ hectic trade show schedule. More than two thirds of PICA survey respondents prefer that press events be held during a show’s first two days. Concurrent site visits are helpful, but companies should remember that reporters covering trade shows are on the go from the time they arrive until the frantic cab ride to the airport. They can’t afford to have their often limited time monopolized by a single company.

If a company focuses on substance, they need not become overly dependent on style to attract reporters or outdo competitors. Simpler may actually be better, if they remember the “little” things.

For example, Nisah Tahara, a writing tutor at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., suggests timing presentations for around lunch time, “after the people have been walking the floor for a couple hours,” and offering “light snacks, beverages, and comfy seating—no folding chairs.”

As for press kits and other accompanying materials, CD-Rs and USB drives are the overwhelmingly preferred format. The capacity of these devices should permit the inclusion of high-resolution photos, not thumbnails. An emailed URL to a company’s website is also acceptable as long as the photos can be accessed without a time-consuming virtual journey through the “online newsroom.”

Companies should also invest in well-crafted press releases and background materials to ensure their messages get across. After all, they’re trying to attract the interest of professional writers who are deluged with dozens of similar pitches before, during, and after a trade show.

As Mike Woof, editor at Route One Publishing in London, UK, pleads, “can we please never see the word ‘unique’ used again?”

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WOC Networking Reception

More than 50 CWA members, guests, and media representatives attended the CWA networking reception held during World of Concrete on Jan. 19, 2011, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event was made possible through the generous donations of our sponsors: Kubota, Hilti, Caterpillar and Portland Cement Association.

“There’s always a great turnout for this event, and this year was no exception,” said Patti Flesher, manager, media relations, Portland Cement Association. Flesher co-chaired the event along with Carla Biggs, marketing communications and PR/trade media manager for Hilti. “Several attendees inquired about membership in CWA.”

Get Involved with CWA

One way to increase the value of your CWA membership is to actively work with your peers to shape the future of the organization. This can be accomplished through work on committees as well as Board positions. From now through Friday, March 11, the Construction Writers Association Nominations Committee is seeking candidates for the 2011-2012 CWA Board of Directors and Committee positions. If you would like to expand your network as well as enhance your career, please consider further, active involvement in CWA.

Five positions are open on the CWA Board of Directors for election. The Director positions are two-year terms beginning June 1, 2011, and expiring May 31, 2013. Directors are expected to commit the time necessary to perform board business, as well as allocate time to prepare and attend association meetings. The CWA Board of Directors holds one or two face-to-face meetings during CWA annual conferences and a monthly hour-long teleconference board meeting. Candidates should be members in good standing in CWA with previous board, committee or organizational leadership experience.

There are CWA committees devoted to scholarships, bylaws, finance, Hall of Fame, membership, nominating, publicity, sponsorship, and website, as well as to each event. If you are interested in chairing a committee or participating in a committee, please take this opportunity to contact the nominating committee chair, Susan Garritano (sgarritano@mccarthy.com) to express your area of interest. She will be happy to answer your questions or provide you with additional information. We encourage all members to get involved!

Welcome New Members

Doug Bellamy
Innovative Drywall Systems, Inc
Escondido, CA
United States

Teresa Celmer
Mount Prospect, IL
United States

Mary E. Fenelon
Synergy Collaborative
Lafayette, CA
United States

Mark S. Kuhar
Mining Media International/Rock Products
Medina, OH
United States

John Paul Lawrence
Modern Trade Communications, Inc.
Skokie, IL
United States

Brian Maddox
Executive Director
ASA Chicago
Des Plaines, IL
United States

Ginny McFarland
ASA Chicago
Des Plaines, IL
United States

Melissa Matarrese
Marketing Manager
National Council of Structural Engineers
Chicago, IL
United States

Kari Moosmann
AEC Editorial Manager
Constructive Communication Inc
Woodridge, IL
United States

Tim O'Brien
Marketing Manager
Case Construction
Racine, WI
United States

Jennifer Patterson
Communications Manager
ASA Chicago
Des Plaines, IL
United States

Jim Scarlata
Senior Marketing Operations Manager
Crystal Lake, IL
United States

Caroline Smith
Communications Specialist
PCL Constructors Inc
Edmonton, Alberta

Rick Zettler
Cedar Rapids, IA
United States

Upcoming Calendar of Events

March 22-26, 2011
International Exposition for Power Transmission (IFPE), Las Vegas, NV. For information, visit www.ifpe.com.

March 22-26, 2011
CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas, NV. For more information visit www.conexpoconagg.com.

March 24, 2011
CWA Networking Reception in Las Vegas, NV. For more information and to register, please visit this page.

April/May 2011
American Council of Engineering Companies Annual Convention in Washington, DC. For information, visit www.acec.org/calendar/conferences.cfm.

April 12-15, 2011
Associated Builders and Contractors’ EdCon & Expo in San Antonio, TX. For more information, visit http://www.abc.org/Hot_Links/Meetings_and_Events/Construction_Education_Conference.aspx

May 9-10, 2011
Groundbreaking Women in Construction in New York City, NY. For more information, visit http://www.construction.com/events/2011/gwic

May 12-14, 2011
American Institute of Architects National Convention and Design Expo in New Orleans, LA. For more information, visit http://convention.aia.org.

May 14-18, 2011
Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) 2011 Annual Conference & Exhibition in Grapevine, TX. For more information, visit www.cfma.org.

May 15-17, 2011
Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) 2011 Leadership Forum at the Westin River Walk in San Antonio, TX. For information, visit http://cmaanet.org/conference.php.

May 15-18, 2011
National Association of Surety Bond Producers Annual Convention in Colorado Springs, CO. For more information, visit http://www.nasbp.org/NASBP/2011AnnualMeeting/Welcome/Default.aspx

June 14-16, 2011
Associated Builders and Contractors’ Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. For more information, visit http://www.abc.org/Hot_Links/Meetings_and_Events/Legislative_Conference.aspx

More events »

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For more information on CWA’s Board of Directors visit:

For more information to sign up for CWA Committee click here.

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Send comments or queries to Construction Writers Association at bill.tolley@constructionwriters.org.

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