By Janice Harris
As the President and Founder of Communication Arts + Design, Christine Anderson has a full plate. She's also incredibly well-known and respected in the industry, and she has the client list to prove it. Fortunately, we’ve built a strong relationship with show expert, world-renowned interior designer, and president of Arch-Interiors Design Group, Christopher Grubb, who facilitated an exclusive interview with Christine at Dwell 2018 in Los Angeles, CA.
Stay tuned for the video interview which is set to drop on House Tipster TV in a few weeks. In the meantime, we couldn’t wait to bring you some of the biggest takeaways from this special conversation.
Christopher G.(C.G.): Christine, it’s so great to be here talking with you at Dwell. You are very well-known in this industry. Could you explain how you got into the field of PR? What excited you about PR work?
Christine A. (C.A.): I came into this field in a roundabout way. In fact, I began my career in the art world. Both of my parents are artists, and I worked for art dealers, so I started in the realm of art by default. Over time, I became the publicist for a gallery, and that position took me to a number of art fairs.
At one particular art fair downtown, I saw a model of an architectural masterpiece by Coop Himmelblau called “The Open House,” and I thought, “wow, that is living sculpture.” It was phenomenal! That was truly the pivotal moment that brought me out of the arts and into architecture and design.
C.G.: Your firm, Communication Arts + Design, is very well respected by designers, architects, and really everyone in the industry. Tell us more about your firm and who you work with.
C.A.: With over 20 years in the business, we’ve worked with many wonderful, high-level clients in design, architecture, and showrooms. For example, we did a lovely product and jewelry retrospective with Frank Gehry. We also had the opportunity to work with Steven Ehrlich on his institutional division, particularly when he started doing university work. When our firm started promoting his projects, his name alone opened many doors.
From that point on, we started working with clients like Coop Himmelblau, Soli Architectural Surfaces, and Snyder Diamonds. Today, we’re handling a lot of the PR for Mark Weaver and Associates in West Hollywood, Kitchell Custom Homes, and a new client, PHX Architects in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Beverly Hills. Right now, we’re working a lot with Sky-Frame out of Switzerland. They make beautiful, motorized aluminum doors that are absolutely magnificent.
Interestingly, our client list is always changing depending on their needs and the events coming up, such as trade shows.
C.G.: I’ve heard that your work with Frank Gehry was transformative. Can you talk a bit about working with him?
C.A.: That’s a funny story because I’ve had this long-running joke with my friends that, when Frank Gehry called, I’ll be ready because he really needs me. He was on my client bucket list! Out of the blue, the Museum of California Design called because they were doing a retrospective of his work-- they wanted to celebrate it. In the end, we did a wonderful event for Frank.
C.G.: You’ve probably noticed all the amazing design work homeowners are doing on their own today. Do you have any advice for homeowners looking to publicize their work? How do they go about submitting to online publications?
C.A.: People are always welcome to submit their work, but it’s always good to have some guidance along the way. For starters, you have to take into account editorial calendars, meaning you need to know the themes and be in touch seasonally.
Pictures also matter because the editors you’re submitting to are used to world class photographs. It’s always a good idea to choose a photographer with a good track record.
C.G.: Social media is transforming the industry. How do you see it impacting your work?
C.A.: I truly believe that social media is everything. It’s imperative. It’s the “now.” It’s the future. It brings you audiences all over the world in 2 seconds!
Find a publicist that follow you around and shares your perspective on social media. For example, when Mark Weaver went to Italy, we followed him around and took pictures of him enjoying the country. These actions help to define the client to the public and highlight how they acquired their wonderful taste level.
C.G.: You’ve worked in this industry for 20 years. How have you seen it change over the years?
C.A.: The industry has definitely changed, phenomenally! Today, you need to be broad-minded; you need to spread the wagon wheel out and present your work in a variety of ways. There isn’t just one digest or publication that everyone reads or refers to. And while you think you may know your audience, you never know the opportunities that arise without branching out.
Frankly, you don’t know who is reading what publication at any given time. Did you know that when Richard Landry’s monograph came out, it was translated into Chinese and Russian? He didn’t even know it, but from that point on, his career was stratospheric!
C.G.: Are there any other final secrets or tips you have for designers or other industry professionals thinking about working with a PR agency?
C.A.: Before you work with anyone, do your homework on them! Talk to your editors and other industry professionals-- because they know who works on-time, who gives good promotions, and so on. Also, look for someone who is conscientious. Don’t fall for someone who is charming without knowing their work ethic.
Check out their client roster too, as well as the number of press clips they’re doing.
Above all, look for an expert and, once you’ve found the right fit, listen to their advice. They’re looking out for your best benefit because it’s mutually beneficial. Be open to their PR ideas and don’t be afraid to try something new, such as getting onstage or out in public.
C.G.: Finally, what’s next for you, Christine? Is there anything exciting on the horizon for you and your firm?
C.A.: I’m excited to be speaking at the UCLA School of Design about PR and marketing in the coming weeks. In addition, I’m excited to announce a new project my firm is working on. Design Blast LA is geared toward people who can’t afford a PR firm around the clock, or just need limited assistance. With this venture, we will help send out any announcements and blasts, so that clients who wouldn’t be able to otherwise can access the entire design industry.
We are thrilled that Christopher Grubb and Christine Anderson allowed House Tipster to experience this great interview.