July 2010

AHA - Vancouver PR Agency

AHA Take

We had the opportunity recently to speak with Glen Korstrom of Business in Vancouver about the impact that social media has had on the world of public relations. In fact, we’re quoted in his article this week. (You need a subscription to read the piece online.) We were thrilled that we were quoted as a thriving Vancouver PR agency that has embraced social media as a part of our offering.

[caption id="attachment_2517" align="alignright" width="240" caption="AHA - We're not afraid to get our feet wet!"]AHA - Vancouver PR Agency[/caption]

I wanted to share a little more of what we discussed. As mentioned in the article, while there are many who do think that the business model for PR is broken, I’m not one of them. I think that it has evolved and that it had to change for many reasons, including social media, but it’s not broken. And let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about the business model here, not the actual work that PR people or communicators undertake on behalf of their clients. How we, as PR agencies, run our businesses and make a profit has had to shift. And for our part, we began shifting years ago and it’s been a positive move for us. We saw the evolution of the business of PR as an opportunity for AHA.

As for the work that we do as communicators, in my opinion, social media has provided us with additional tools and opportunities. But at the core of it all – and I know you’ve heard me say this before – it is strategy. In fact, social media has provided the opportunity to authentically connect with stakeholders in a way that even five years ago, we never dreamed would be possible. Social media is only one component of a communicator’s toolkit and I think it’s important to keep that in mind.

[caption id="attachment_2518" align="alignright" width="240" caption="AHA - Making a splash!"]AHA - Vancouver PR Agency[/caption]

I don’t think that it’s just social media that has changed the business model. I also think the recent recession had many organizations reviewing how they could get the most value out of their PR or communications budget. Smaller agencies like AHA provide clients with excellent service, we’re really good at what we do, we’re proactive and we’re incredibly responsive to client needs. AND at AHA, a partner works on every account. You don’t meet the senior team at the initial meeting and then get passed off to a more junior person. At the end of the day – in the middle and at the start of it – it’s Paul and I that are connected to the client. Don’t get me wrong; it’s definitely a team effort here. Depending on the project, different members of our crew are actively involved, but accountability and responsibility rest on my shoulders and on Paul’s. We are hearing more and more that this is important to clients and they like that they get top level skill sets with the client service that can only come from a small agency.

I know that we’re not for everyone. And that’s ok with us. The fact is, we choose our clients as carefully as they choose us. When we started AHA, we outlined who we want to be and how we want to spend our time at work. One of the biggest factors for us is that we wanted to find great clients – people who want to create a real partnership, see us as a valuable part of their team, and provide us with the same respect and consideration that we give them. And let me tell you, we have great clients!

Social media and technology have created the need for change in the business model of PR. And I have to say, given our record of success at this new model; we’re pretty excited about it!

What do you think, how has social media changed the business model for PR?

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Old Spice - AHA Creative blog post

Photo credit: Pavel Ševela / Wikimedia Commons

There has been quite a bit of buzz recently about the Old Spice social media campaign that has the Old Spice Man replying via video to tweets. The campaign is funny, it’s smart and it showcases just what can be done with social media when you develop a kick ass strategy and identify what the right tools are to deliver on it.

I am sure that a case study on this campaign’s success will appear somewhere in the near future. It would be great to hear from the people who created the campaign on what their objectives were, how this campaign did in their eyes and what benefits the brand received from this unusual and humorous approach to social media.

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We’ve been discussing the challenges being faced by traditional media for what seems like a very long time. The announcement that CanWest Global Communications Corp’s publishing division has been sold to Postmedia Network Inc., the organization led by Paul Godfrey and backed by U.S. private-equity player Golden Tree Asset Management among other investors, comes as no surprise.

In reading the piece in the Vancouver Sun, it is interesting to note that the new owners say they are going to “pursue an ambitious ‘digital first’ business model.” Godfrey said that he “would expect most reporters are going to carry video cameras so they can put their stories on the Web immediately, to cells, iPhones, and social networks.”

That will change the cycle of news to immediate. For communicators, it will also change how we pitch media. Traditionally we would have approached a print pitch differently, now the pitch blends print, image and video and will include a hook that focuses on the social networking side of coverage. At least, that’s how we’re approaching it. I know that for some, it feels like more work has been put on the plate of PR and communications – for our part, we’re pretty excited. Not to say that there won’t be challenges, but we get to be a part of the biggest shift in how we do our work since – well, since PR became more than running events and planning parties. There’s opportunity here people!!

What do you think? Are you ready for the brave new world where several mediums blend and we get to participate in a shift in how news and events are covered, when it comes to our organization and clients?

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There is a great blog post on the Webbiquity blog that focuses on the questions to ask when you are developing a social media strategy. It says to “think like a reporter” and that’s good advice.

As a former reporter, I would like to add one more question: How? Once you go through the 5 Ws, then you have to ask yourself how you are going to achieve this. Defining a strategy and a plan is crucial, but you have to develop one that works for your organization. You need to make sure that you have the resources and the support necessary to execute, otherwise it’s just a really great plan that sits on a shelf or in a drawer.

How are you defining your social media strategy? Can you clearly answer the 5Ws and the H?

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