Every so often, I read a press release of how XYZ Construction Company was awarded (insert high-profile project name) for (insert large amount of money) and how the owner and XYZ look forward to a successful project. I shake my head and pray that the construction project goes well for everyone's sake.

With my business training, I fully understand the purpose of promoting that XYZ Construction has work in the pipeline. It serves to improve relationships with investors, shareholders, employees, suppliers, and other business partners. Project awards provide a point of comparison relative to industry peers especially in a weak economy. After all, the losers of the construction bid process have nothing to brag about.

However, this type of press release could set the company up for potential PR back-peddling if the construction project goes bad. By no means, do I mean to devalue the importance of advertising that "Hey, our company has work and a good chance of staying in business. We might hire people to finish this project. We are still relevant. We won something."

Here are my top 5 reasons for promoting construction project Completions as opposed to Awards:

  1. Completions prove success. Chances are that no company will promote themselves over a project that blew the budget, or that had a major accident or construction defect (i.e. lawsuit fodder). Similarly, XYZ may have been awarded the project due a bust in the estimate. While this (probably) wouldn't be publicized, it would give XYZ a bittersweet feeling about the project. If XYZ was able to build a high-profile project within the budget, then they might be more willing to spend money in order to promote their success. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.
  2. Completions offer more useful information. Press releases on Awards are boring templates (see the first sentence of this post for an example). Contrarily, Completions make for great case studies that can teach construction professionals about new construction innovations, project management techniques, or construction materials.
  3. Completions provide real pictures. Nothing against some of the beautiful artist renderings, but they only illustrate the genius of the architect's imagination. The last time I checked, most tourists visiting my city of Chicago take pictures of Willis Tower and not of an un-built building. Completed project pictures are more appealing to those rooted in reality and eventually provide content for corporate brochures, websites, newsletters, and other marketing material.
  4. Completions improve favorable search results. Over the long run, there is nothing worse than having your company linked to a failed project on the internet. Right or wrong, a company's failure is hard to bury on the internet. Failures make for easy fodder for regional (and sometime national/global) media outlets. While the construction industry is very relationship-based, the impression of the younger generation is being formed to a large degree by internet search results. The hope is that one project failure paired with several project successful completions can shift the balance of influence favorably towards the company.
  5. Completions can lead to awards. There are no award ceremonies for awarded work. Without belaboring this point, there are a vast array of awards from American Institute of Architects, Associated Builders and Contractors, , ENR, Concrete Surfaces, and other industry-specific organizations on completed projects. Award ceremonies should lead to more favorable press and more business opportunities for the company.

One counterpoint is that the press release about the construction award was free. I'd argue that it's not free since your company has to spend time, money, and other resources during the construction phase in order to prove the Owner made the right decision in the award process.

Neel Khosa is vice president of AMSYSCO, Inc. He is the chair of the Post-Tensioning Institute's CRT-30 (Unbonded Field Certification) and a voting member of PTI-CAB and ACI-301E. Mr. Khosa has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BSc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. He manages the corporate blog at www.amsyscoinc.com/our-blog which primarily deals with unbonded post-tensioned concrete.