This article features simple communications strategies for anyone pursuing WELL Certification, including my fellow WELL Accredited Professionals, or, WELL APs.
Did you know you can use communications to help promote your projects during the WELL Certification process? As a communications professional, I am always on the lookout for ways to help build buzz for my clients and was excited to learn certain stakeholders can promote their WELL projects – as long as they follow IWBI's guidelines.
For reference, here are examples of public-facing channels where a potential conversation around the pursuit of WELL Certification may take place.
Newsletter/ Email Campaign
Press Release / Press Event
Website, blog, podcast
In an interview, online, tv, radio, print (Public Relations)
To help clarify what is possible (and what is not), I reached out to the International WELL Building Institute™
(IWBI) with a few questions (below), and here is what they had to say. Please note that you should always refer to the WELL Building Standard, WELL Certification Guidebook, and WELL Online as rules may change.
Jessica: Can any project owner, contractor, etc. publicly say they are "pursuing WELL certification"? Or does their project have to be registered on the WELL Online portal and marked "public" first? What restrictions, if any, exist at that stage.
For example, say a project owner may be explaining their plans for 2021 to their employees or stakeholders in a newsletter but haven't started the official process yet. Or, an architect may want to announce a new contract won in the pursuit of WELL Certification on social media or via a press release. Is this allowed?
IWBI: Projects will need to be public to promote their pursuance or achievement of WELL Certification.
All public projects also benefit from publicity opportunities: IWBI may use project data to create case studies highlighting a project’s features, reference a project on the website or to the media, or create other derivative works. Information that may be used for articles, project profiles, presentations or similar promotional pieces may include service providers, project team members, promotional or other project photographs, project strategies for certification, or quotations from team members. A project may opt-out of the WELL project directory and publicity opportunities by electing to be a “private project” at the time of registration. See the WELL Digital Platform for specific instructions in this regard. A private project means that the project name, street address and identity of the owner will not appear within the WELL project directory. Certain other non-project identifying information may be disclosed, including, but not limited to, the city and state in which the project is located and the total project square footage. All private projects that achieve WELL Certification will be prompted upon issuance of award, if any, to transition to public status. A project that wishes to remain a private project will need to re-confirm its private status at the time of certification. For so long as a project maintains its election as a “private project”, the project cannot market or represent itself to the general public as having applied for certification, or as being certified or compliant, and no intellectual property including the WELL certification trademarks may be utilized or displayed in relation to the project. Project owners may change the privacy setting for a project at any time before acceptance of the final award, using functionality in the WELL Digital Platform. Moreover, if it is determined in IWBI’s reasonable discretion that despite its election as private project, your project has been/is being marketed to the public as having registered for or received certification, it will be deemed implied consent given by you to GBCI or IWBI to consider your project as a public project.
In short: Your project must be marked "public" on WELL Online to promote your project publicly. Makes sense. If your project is marked "private" on WELL Online, you are limited to what you can promote.
Jessica: WELL V1 and WELL V1 Pilot projects looking to market the proposed wellness features of a project, only those that have achieved precertification (V1, V1 Pilot) can do this publicly. Others that have not achieved precertification (V1, V1 Pilot) can simply say they are "pursuing WELL certification" but not otherwise promote/determine which features the project is likely to achieve.
IWBI: Correct! Project teams cannot claim anything until they are certified.
Jessica: For WELL v2 projects looking to communicate progress toward achieving WELL Certification, only those that have received WELL Design & Operations (WELL D&O) designation can do so publicly. Others that have not achieved WELL D&O (v2) can simply say they are "pursuing WELL Certification" but not otherwise communicate progress outside of general terms toward achieving WELL Certification.
IWBI: Also correct!
Jessica: Is precertification an option for WELL V2 projects?
IWBI: For a WELL v2 project to be awarded WELL Precertification, projects must submit documentation that demonstrates compliance with all preconditions and that achieves enough points for the lowest level of certification as follows: WELL v2: 40 points Above this minimum, the WELL Precertification designation does not further differentiate how many points are successfully reviewed (e.g., there is no “Precertified Gold” for WELL v2 projects). Projects may submit feature documentation for Precertification Review that exceeds the minimum but does not exceed 100 points in order to receive an early stage review of those strategies. Alternatively, projects may submit the minimum levels of documentation for Precertification Review, and then submit additional features for review during Documentation Review to pursue higher levels of certification.
Thank you to the IWBI team for helping clarify what communications opportunities exist! I hope this sparks a few ideas on how you can help build excitement around your projects on the road to certification.
If you're interested in promoting your project on its road to WELL Certification using these communications strategies – or could use some inspiration to get going – reach out. For more insights, connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter (@jpaynebu).
Jessica Payne is an award-winning communications strategist, WELL AP and proud member of the IWBI Health Equity Advisory.