October 2010

There is a very interesting article on Poynter Online that talks about the trend for journalists to set up in coffee shops throughout the communities that they cover. It is worth a read.

As anyone who knows me or reads this blog, knows we believe in the value of the online communication. It’s a reality in the world of communications and the public has embraced it. It is a big part of how your story gets told these days. However, we also believe strongly in connecting in “real life” too. It’s easy to hide behind your computer screen and pull information and facts and have what feels like full conversations online. The fact is, face-to-face is equally – and in many cases – more important. In my opinion, human connection will never be replaced by technology, now matter how quick, how interactive, and how three-dimensional.

Our Vancouver PR agency recently came onboard with a new client that has a big community spread over two large physical locations. While we have done extensive research online in our planning for this client, we have also taken the time and gone to both locations to spend time and get a feel for the culture and community. I have sat in the coffee shops and chatted with people, walked through the halls, and sat in on meetings and sessions to learn what makes the people that support this organization tick, what inspires them, frustrates them, and engages them. For our work with AHA clients, it’s always a blend of online and “real world.”

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Now that the 33 Chilean miners are above ground and safe and sound, it is interesting to look back at their ordeal and review how it was handled and what that might mean for the miners in the future. Movie deals? Book deals?

I have to admit, I was obsessed with this story. And, from the sounds of it, so was a great deal of the world. I think that the reason for this is that there was ongoing, honest communication being put out about what was going on and there was a realistic hope of a happy ending.

The fact that the world was kept up-to-date on what was happening underground with the miners, with their families and with the rescue effort was incredible. We were allowed into the story and that made us feel connected. I think the Chilean government and the people working on the rescue did an exceptional job of providing information and because of that, they earned worldwide support. Not a small thing when you are in the spotlight like they were.

Sunglass maker, Oakley, stepped in and provided sunglasses for the men. Now, I have read some criticism about why Oakley did this; but, in fact, they were approached by a journalist covering the story. They responded and said yes, of course, they would provide sunglasses to help protect the eyes of the men. And to their credit, they wrote one blog post about it and that seems to be it. They didn’t try to maximize coverage of their role; they just did something good and that was that. Of course, as each miner came out of the ground, their brand was front and centre and was connected to the success of the rescue. They received an estimated $41 million in television coverage. But, they handled their contribution with class and style and if it benefits them, good for them.

There is a great article in the Jamaica Observer about leadership lessons from the mines that focuses on the communications efforts. It’s one of the best pieces I have read on this topic and worth a read.

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As many of you may know, we are big fans of the use of Flip Video camera at our Vancouver PR agency. Each Friday, we produce an AHA Flip Cam Friday video that is a quick snippet of information, news and PR tips and hints.

I wanted to show you another example of a great use of a Flip Cam. Ben Daughtery of Heartland Health has a video series entitled How’s It Ben Going? (Get it – Ben…Been). It is a rough and tumble video, no production value to speak of, but it’s working for this healthcare communicator.

I do have to warn you that it does take a bit to remove yourself from our expectation of highly produced corporate video, but the fact is, this is the way the world is moving. Have a look and when you have finished watching the video – ask yourself if this is something you might be able to do in your organization. I know for several of our clients, the Flip Cam video has become an incredible asset for sharing information and for asking for feedback.

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