SMPS Chicago Blog

Excellence in Marketing Awards

About the EMA’s
The Excellence in Marketing Awards (EMAs) are designed to recognize outstanding achievement in marketing communications by professional service firms in the Chicagoland AEC industry. Modeled after the SMPS National Marketing Communications Awards, the program provides an opportunity for firms to showcase their best marketing practices.

Click here to download the ENTRY FORM 

EMAs webpage

Any SMPS Chicago member is eligible to nominate a firm. Outside consultants utilized to develop materials (i.e. print shops, photographers, copywriters, etc.) should be identified in the Clarification Statement.

What can be submitted? Any materials that fulfill the criteria of the categories listed above are eligible. The material must have been published or issued between January 2016 and May 2017.

Benefits of Participating
• Industry recognition for your firm
• Enhancement of your firm’s brand and positioning
• Inspiration for future campaigns
• Expert feedback on your firm’s marketing practices from evaluation panel
• Complimentary attendance at awards reception

Submittal Deadline
All submittals must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. 

Entry Categories
SMPS Chicago’s EMAs honor individuals and firms responsible for excellence in marketing communications in the following categories:

  • Advertising
  • Annual Report
  • Book/Monograph
  • Brochure
  • Corporate Identity
  • Direct-Mail Campaign
  • Feature Writing
  • Holiday Piece
  • Internal Communications Magazine
  • Media Relations Campaign
  • Newsletter — External
  • Newsletter — Internal
  • Promotional Campaign
  • Recruitment & Retention
  • Social Media
  • Special Event
  • Specific Project Marketing
  • Trade Show Marketing
  • Video
  • Web Site

Contact Lindsay Green
Project Management Advisors
150 South Wacker, Suite 2150
Chicago, IL 60606
[email protected]

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Off to the Races Special Member Ticket Price

Members, get your Off to the Races ticket for just $50.

Register now

Enjoy the summer sunshine and cool breeze with your fellow SMPS Chicago members and guests in a private trackside tent at the world-class Arlington Park racecourse. The perfect spot to enjoy live racing and spark some friendly competition. Derby hats optional.


Easily accessible from the Metra Arlington Park station and stopping directly in front of the park. Potential Union Pacific Northwest (UPNW) train options from Downtown Chicago:

  • Departs from Ogilivie @ 11:30am, arrives at Arlington Park @ 12:20pm
  • Departs from Ogilivie @ 12:30pm, arrives at Arlington Park @ 1:20pm
  • Departs from Ogilivie @ 1:30pm, arrives at Arlington Park @ 2:20pm

There is also a general parking lot with free parking.

Registration includes admission, food, and two beverages.


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Lots of Job Openings


The Job Bank is heating up along with the weather. Take a moment to browse the openings. Are you a fit for any of these openings? Can you bring a friend into to the world of AEC marketing and communications?


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ISO: Chapter Volunteers

SMPS Chicago is a volunteer-run organization. We are grateful for all the contributions our committee members make week after week to help the chapter be a success, create excellent programs, provide educational opportunities, and get the word out about our events.

SMPS Chicago has volunteer needs for the following committees or roles:

  • Programs Committee
  • Sponsorship Committee
  • Annual Sponsor Social Media Team Member

SMPS strives to connect members to trends and hot topics that will help them in their firms marketing, research and planning. Each committee member is responsible for planning a monthly program. This includes developing a topic, finding a speaker(s) and leading all other arrangements to ensure the program runs smoothly from start to finish.

The SMPS Chicago Sponsorship Committee members are responsible for obtaining sponsorship for annual sponsorship, monthly programs and special events. The committee works with other committees to facilitate financial support for programs from monthly luncheons to special events. They are in charge of conveying the benefits of annual and program sponsorship opportunities to current and potential sponsors from all facets of the A/E/C industry.

Annual Sponsor Social Media Team Member

As a liaison between Sponsorship and Communications, we are looking for a social media savvy person to assist specifically with helping the annual sponsors take advantage of the social media benefits offered in their sponsorship package.

If any of these openings are a fit for your interests or skills, we are excited to hear from you. Please contact Jessie Erickson at Pepper Construction Company, [email protected]

Thank you!


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5 Tips to Be Successful Using an Online Task Manager

Ever feel like you’re drowning in tasks? Stressed because you have so much to do and always feel like you’re missing something: an email that needs to be sent or a blog that needs to be drafted. That was me: a desk covered in “to-do” post-it notes and handwritten checklists to keep track of everything. Or do you use your email inbox? Come on, I know I’m not alone (I hope...Bueller?).

When I was first introduced to an online task management system, I was skeptical. Convinced my swimming in post-it notes method was a solid strategy, I didn’t use the task manager for the first month we signed up (hey! it was a trial.) One day, though, when I was rewriting my to-do list in order of priority, I thought, “this is such a waste of time.”

Which brings me to my first tip:

Keep your task manager open on your desktop

It’s easier to manage tasks when they’re right in front of you. I stuck with handwritten checklists for so long because they were at my fingertips. Now, the first thing I do every morning (even before opening my email)? Go online and check my tasks. The tab stays open all day: I mark items complete as I finish them, and drop new ones in throughout the day. What constitutes a new task, you ask?

Everything is a Task

The short answer? Everything. This tip might not be right for everyone, but it has been a tremendous help. Need to follow up with a marketing partner or journalist? That’s a task. Need to complete an award submission? That’s a task. Random things you’re asked to do throughout the day? You guessed it! That’s a task. Whatever you accomplish shows up in a daily or weekly overview, and provides a good sense of how much you’re completing (or when you’re procrastinating.)

Set Real Priorities

A marketer, especially in the A/E/C industry, deals with countless (and often extremely tight) deadlines. When I first started managing tasks digitally, I was marking everything as high priority. This didn’t turn out to be very efficient. I’ve learned to mark tasks which take the largest time investment as high priority items (and receive reminders first thing in the morning.) For example, a client case study or building a new web page. Items which take less time or that can be pushed back a day or two are marked as low priority. i.e. resizing an image for the website. Most tools have ways to prioritize tasks, for example: easy, medium, and hard. It just depends on the tool you choose, which is why it’s important to…

Choose One That Works For You

Although these systems and apps technically do the same thing, each have different features. Some even let you manage multiple lists at a time. Many options exist, so if you spend more time setting it up, then actually using it, consider other options. Don’t let finding the right task manager become another task! Here’s a short list I’ve tried: Tribe, Todoist, and Producteev – all free options. I prefer Todoist because it’s a happy medium: Tribe didn’t do enough of what I needed it to do to be successful, and Producteev had too many features.

Work as a Group

Speaking of cool features, task managers are great for group projects or large teams. You can see what other members of your group are working on, pass a task to a colleague, or see how many tasks your coworkers have completed. In a large team, this would be an easy way to communicate without even picking up a phone or sending an email.

In the end, it all comes down to your preferences and objectives. What do you need to do to be more efficient, organized, or work better as a team? Are you already using an online task manager? We want to hear about your experience!

Catie Duffy is in the marketing department at Cushing, a display graphics company offering solutions such as custom office wall decals. She volunteers on the SMPS special events committee.


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Take a Capitol Tour with SMPS Wisconsin on June 8 in Madison

Just how much impact does the government have on the AEC industry?  In this SMPS Wisconsin event, we will take a tour of the prominent Wisconsin State Capitol building, learning more about its history and impressive architectural features.

Following the tour, Bob Cook, Senior Vice President of Government Relations at HNTB, will provide an informative presentation at The Old Fashioned on the Capitol Square. This presentation will delve into how legislation directly impacts the AEC industry.

The day will be capped off with a happy hour, including appetizers and two drink tickets.

Additional details can be found below. This event will involve a lot of walking so please plan accordingly.


Bob Cook, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, HNTB
Bob returned to HNTB in 2016 after serving as Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks where he was responsible for working with state and local legislators to pass 2015 Wisconsin Act 60, a bill to authorize and fund a new sports and entertainment arena in Milwaukee.  He has also been involved in the process to develop a 30-acre district surrounding the arena that will transform downtown Milwaukee.

Prior to joining the Bucks, Bob was Vice President and Director of Government Relations for HNTB Corporation from 2007-2014.   He also served as executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, a 400-member trade association that promotes statewide transportation investment. Bob was the association’s primary spokesperson and developed programs to educate the public and policy makers about the needs and challenges of the state’s transportation system. He also served as executive assistant to the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, where he assisted in setting transportation policy for the state’s programs and was a liaison between the department, USDOT, federal, state and local elected officials and the public.

Bob also has served as project director for the House Committee on Science in Washington, DC; legislative director for Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner; deputy director of Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson’s Wisconsin Office of Federal-State Relations; and legislative assistant to Congressman Scott Klug.

Bob has extensive experience working with elected officials to build consensus for infrastructure projects and get the funding necessary to build them.  In 2012, he was appointed by Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, to the Wisconsin Transportation Policy and Finance Committee.

Bob grew up in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin and is a graduate of UW-Madison.


Capitol Tour – 2:00 PM (tour begins promptly on the hour)
Presentation – 3:30 PM
Happy Hour – Following presentation


SMPS Wisconsin Members – $25
SMPS WisconsinNon-members – $45

Register Today


Capitol Tour

Tours begin promptly on the hour.  The tour will begin in the tour orientation center located in the southeast basement of the Capitol.  Access the orientation center via the metal doors beneath the grand stairs on Martin Luther King Blvd.  Please allow sufficient time to arrive and be ready to start. If you arrive late, you may be asked to join the tour in progress or your tour may be shortened. Groups may be combined. The tour will last approximately 45 to 55 minutes. Groups may see the Rotunda, the Supreme Court, the Governor’s Conference Room, the Assembly, the Senate and the North Hearing Room (all subject to availability). The observation deck is open daily from May 1 through November 1.

NOTE: If you have questions or need directions, please see the information desk on the ground floor of the rotunda.

Public parking is available around the Capitol.  Additional details found here.

Cameras with flash and video recorders are allowed in all areas of the Capitol except in the legislative galleries during floor sessions. Wheelchair access is available at the Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Wisconsin, East Washington and West Washington Avenue entrances.

Presentation and Happy Hour

The presentation and Happy Hour will be held in the upstairs room at The Old Fashioned, a Madison favorite. The Old Fashioned is located on the Square at 23 North Pinckney Street, near the corner of Hamilton and Pinckney (map).


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July 12 Seller/Doer Symposium in Indy

Building Your Bottom Line through Business Development

During the next 10 years, over 50% of architectural, engineering and construction firms are expected to increase their use of seller-doers– that’s according to SMPS/SMPS Foundation research, and almost 40% of the firms who participated in the research also say they’ve already increased their use of seller-doers during past 10 years.

As the prevalence of using seller-doers to win more business grows, is your firm prepared to do it effectively? Does your culture foster client relationships? Is accountability clear, with goals established? Are you working with your nontechnical business development and marketing staff to help drive success? Targeted to mid-to senior-level personnel, both technical and nontechnical, this symposium will answer these questions and provide the framework for implementing best practices in business development.

Experienced industry executives who have evolved a business development culture, as well as keynote speakers and a diverse panel of technical professions, will share their experiences and allow plenty of time for dialogue and attendee interaction.

This “pre-con” registration is offered separately from Build Business and includes the opening ceremony and program, as well as attendance at the event’s opening reception.


Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Time: 8AM-4PM

Address: JW Marriott Indianapolis
10 S West Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Price: $495


Online Registration
View PDF of Symposium Outline

*Program is eligible for 7.25 CEUs, AIA LUs, and PDHs.

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