Discussion Forum

Changing the Tone of the Conversation
Original Comment:
When I first started as the Executive Director for the Modular Building Institute in 2004, I was told that “if the public had an opinion of our industry, it was negative.” At the time, there was a lot of news about mobile classrooms and a ton of misinformation about the potential risks of these units.

Working with MBI’s government affairs and public relations committees, over time we addressed and improved indoor air quality, classroom acoustics, and energy efficiency. We developed reports and resources for the public, spoke at numerous education-related conferences, and introduced new language into the building codes.

About seven years ago, MBI created two distinct membership councils: Relocatable Buildings (RB) and Permanent Modular Construction (PMC). We did so to draw a distinction in the minds of potential end users and to better promote the growing PMC segment.

MBI has continued to protect the interests of our fleet owner members, but has lead the way towards changing the tone of the conversation about modular construction. When we first created the PMC Council, there was a good deal of discussion about the word “modular” and whether we should continue using it. Ultimately, we decided that no matter what we call this process, we had to deliver on high quality projects and share more successful case studies with the architect, engineer, contractor, owner community.

We’ve had our share of ups and downs in our media relationships, but we keep promoting our message on a consistent and accurate basis. And overtime, that has helped to change the conversation.

Today, the interest (and I’d say the image) of modular construction is at an all-time high. Just this year, MBI has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes Magazine, Huffington Post, Construction Dive, ENR, and numerous other publications. Our public relations committee uses a database to identify all industry related news stories and to measure whether the stories are positive, neutral or negative. The composite of all these stories generates a “sentiment score” for MBI. Out of 600 references for Modular Building Institute in the news so far in 2017, nearly 69% of those stories are positive and 31% are neutral – 0% negative!

With a leadership team focused on industry growth, active committees, and members building great projects that we can showcase, MBI will continue to lead the way! As always, thank you for your continued support of the industry association.
Started on August 28, 2017 by Tom Hardiman
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