Construction During the Pandemic

For this upcoming summer, I have been asked to join Patner Construction for an internship in their Business Development department, and I am overjoyed to learn from the collaborative industry that is construction.

Construction has always been a part of my life. With a mother in architecture, a father in civil engineering, and stepdad in mechanical engineering, a hard hat for creativity was practically glued to my head.

Such immersion from a young age gave me an inside look on all of the pieces required to build, well, anything. For reference, I talked with my father who works at PGAL and is the Director of Reagan International Airport’s four-year-long project, “Construction of New Security Checkpoints and a New 14-Gate Concourse” for American Airlines. I asked him who is involved in a project as huge as this one. He answered, but not limited to, “architectural designers, electrical contractors, civil site workers, utility teams, HVAC, LEAD systems, telecommunications, baggage handling systems, plumbing systems, structural concrete systems, blast protection construction, vendors for materials”, and a multitude of other subset systems.

At the heart of this type of work is communication and relationship building. Without strong relationships among all of these different types of industries, the work would never get done, and more importantly, would never get done well.

Patner Construction’s motto is, “The First Thing We Build is Relationships”. As an aspiring PR Practioner, I believe this to be a genius welcome to who Patner is beyond a successful construction company. I didn’t know their brand before the Pandemic, and I was curious as an incoming intern how they were able to continue that claim without in-person interaction.

For Patner’s Manager of Business Development, Erica Walsh, she used the first six months of the pandemic to find new techniques to network the firm. “Patner saw a need for more marketing which allowed us to rebrand ourselves, market to different industries, and win projects nationwide. Even in Madrid, Spain”, Walsh wrote.

Walsh rebuilt the firm’s website from scratch and has been actively replacing the old logo with their upgraded design. Patner’s decision to improve their branding in the midst of the pandemic is an incredible example of what it means to adapt.

Joe Martucci, one of Patner’s Project engineer’s, agrees that on top of the ongoing marketing opportunities, the pandemic has created a lot of positive aspects for the construction industry, “Jobsite cleanliness, social distancing, and dust/debris management have become extremely important. Owners appreciate the additional level of comfort knowing their job sites are cleaner and at lower risk of spreading viruses”.

And Steven Sheppard, another Project Engineer, adds, “A positive change would be owner flexibility when it comes to job delays. I haven’t been on a job where an owner doesn’t understand why issues related to COVID have delayed the project, which typically isn’t the norm”.

I feel extremely lucky for the chance to work alongside this group of respected creators that are able to thrive and find the positive opportunities, instead of the negative, of working through a pandemic, especially in one of the most collaborative work industries on the market.

I am also eager to be able to bring what I have learned in my classes the last few years at JMU and apply the knowledge I have gained on the meaning of intentional, action-based PR. And what I mean by intentional and action-based is that every minor detail must be purposeful, and our actions must be strategic. Whether it be at Patner or another organization, representing your brand's image is a powerful, meaningful job. In a media heavy society, and a currently virtual dominated work environment, honest public relations is more important than ever.

However you choose to call it- PR, marketing, communications or business development- there will always be a need for human interaction and client relations in the construction industry. But because of the pandemic, not only have those techniques been limited, there has been more room to be creative. Generating new, positive, out-of-the-box changes in the way we interact with our publics is what makes any industry grow. Whether it be building skyscrapers or building relationships, positively adapting to life altering measures is they key to success.

For more information on Patner Construction go to:

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