By Jim McCloskey
As I announced in the last WaterShapes World blog, this edition of the newsletter carries a new/old name: WaterShapes. It’s a proud title, and I’m happy to bring it back knowing we have so much more to accomplish.
Our mission isn’t much changed since we started out in 1999: We’re here to centralize and organize information on the processes by which excellent water-containing vessels and their surroundings are designed, engineered and constructed. That means project profiles, interviews, research reports, product information and technical briefings seasoned by variety, keen insight and fun.
All of this should be familiar to you by now: We’ve been at it for more than 15 years at this point, and the cast of characters who’ve participated in our forum is long, distinguished and diverse. We’ve always been about sharing, teaching, supporting and sustaining, and we appreciate the credibility that comes with being something of an industry institution.
But there’s one key distinction in what we now do, and it’s a relatively new wrinkle for our mission: In addition to defining and building upon the core values WaterShapes has always expressed (top-flight design quality, best construction practices, high standards, strong client relationships, cross-disciplinary teamwork and continuous education, among others), we are now focused as never before on carrying information on watershaping to consumers – those who own watershapes as well as those who might be interested in acquiring them.
More times that I can count in the magazine-only years, people whose opinions I valued told me to forget about professionals and instead start publishing the magazine directly for consumers. That was something beyond my capacity as a publisher: Finding owners who would be motivated enough to pay for a subscription to a magazine with such a broad content base would be hard; finding people entering the marketplace for future watershapes looked well-nigh impossible.
(My first approximation of a solution, back in the fall of 2001, was WaterShapes TV, which we pitched to cable outlets as a means of highlighting superior quality, fine features and distinctive design among interested consumers. We fell short in part because of the broadcast-advertising crash that followed the events of September 11, 2001. Partly as well, we ran athwart an ongoing shift in the cable television world in which information and education were being supplanted by competitions and entertainment – not what we were pursuing.)
But the Internet is today’s great communicator – even more so now than it was a dozen years ago: Get your search terms right and make content transparent, and good information will be found not only by professional watershapers who know what they’re after, but also by homeowners and property managers who have no more than a need or a gleam in their eyes.
That’s the key difference with WaterShapes these days, and it’s put us on the map in ways we could never have achieved through print alone.
With that openness, of course, comes scrutiny: In opening the industry’s footlocker and introducing consumers to processes and practices that were formerly hidden inside, we’re making it possible for consumers to level the playing field. They’ll be coming to the table armed with more questions, opinions and expectations, made confident by what they’ve observed in our features and columns and the work of the industry’s best practitioners.
We’ve focused on building professional awareness for 15 years now. Now we’re doing the same with consumers – a long wait is over!