Embracing the ‘Organized Chaos’ of Modern PR

 Brien McDaniel is Director of Communications at FXCollaborative.

Brien McDaniel is Director of Communications at FXCollaborative.


A/E/C Stories is an ongoing series of posts featuring individuals who excel in the architecture, engineering and construction industry.  Nominate someone.


Brien McDaniel, director of communications at FXCollaborative, can summarize his job in two words: organized chaos.

“Every day feels like a red alert day,” he says. “There’s always something going on. Each of my projects are at various levels of attention or milestones.”

It’s a reality McDaniel has come to enjoy.

“I like the ability to wear many hats all in one day, all at the same time, and that creates a very fast-paced environment,” he says.

Juggling is a skill that he has learned to master.

“It’s a matter of prioritizing the work and meeting the expectations of others,” says McDaniel. “I try to structure the day every morning with a ‘to-do’ list, but it’s typically driven by multiple deadlines, project demands or press requests. At any given moment you will find me editing an award submission, coordinating a photography shoot, posting to social media, developing a panel discussion or preparing a press release to announce a new project. And sometimes that’s before lunch!”

He increasingly relies on a digital infrastructure to communicate with colleagues, media and other partners. This inevitably involves email, which he considers a necessary evil. “I don’t know what’s worse: preparing to leave for vacation or coming back,” he says, alluding to the backlog of messages that inevitably pile up while he’s away.

Going forward, a growing part of McDaniel’s role will involve promoting the New York-based architectural design firm’s newest name and identity. Founded as Fox & Fowle in 1978, the practice changed its name to FXFOWLE in 2005 and recently rebranded again as FXCollaborative.

“I think with our new name, we’re telling you who we are,” says McDaniel. “We looked at the approaches other architecture offices took to naming, and found that almost no firms had names that reflected their character, culture or philosophy. We wanted something that described as much as identified our firm. It is our brand promise.”

   McDaniel at his desk, the epicenter of FXCollaborative communications

McDaniel at his desk, the epicenter of FXCollaborative communications

Great Moments

When asked to recall his favorite project, he cites the release of FXCollaborative’s third monograph, Reveal Filter Evolve Effect, and his communications plan to support it.

“Our monograph broke completely from the traditional format and aesthetic of most architecture firms,” says McDaniel. “We organized the publication not by typology or program, but by shared bodies of ideas that have emerged from our work–basically, to teach how architecture really happens.”

McDaniel approached the monograph’s launch in a similar non-traditional manner. “I created a communications plan that included announcing the publication, in addition to the creation of year-long events, educational programs and salon dinners to celebrate the firm’s culture, process and the exchange of ideas. I was involved in this project from the very beginning, and three years later it’s still one of the most rewarding experiences for me—both personally and professionally.”

The monograph went on to win a First Place and People’s Choice Award from the New York Chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. It was also one of three finalists for the SMPS National Marketing Communications Award.

Reveal Filter Evolve Effect was a strategic opportunity for the firm to be memorable and singular,” says McDaniel. “It’s rewarding, and humbling, to have your work recognized by your colleagues and peers.”

   McDaniel at the Beaux Arts Ball, The Architectural League of New York, with FXCollaborative Director of Marketing Katherine James

McDaniel at the Beaux Arts Ball, The Architectural League of New York, with FXCollaborative Director of Marketing Katherine James