July 2011

The discussion about the connection between PR and social media is always interesting to me. At AHA, we believe that social media provides an opportunity to share information, learn, educate and connect – and that has always been a part of what we do as public relations professionals. However, we also work with some great marketing and advertising agencies and there are areas and opportunities in their world for social media as well. We often partner with them on campaigns and we’ve never had an issue understanding where each component or initiative lives or how it fits together in the bigger picture.

I think that it’s important to remember that social media provides an opportunity to connect and engage. It also offers people the ability for interactivity, giving them the chance to put their voice forward to an organization, brand or initiative. Sometimes an organization’s social media initiative is through a contest or a marketing campaign; other times it is through what we would consider a more PR-related approach. Some examples are short video segments that showcase the people behind the scenes of a company; Q&As with industry experts, the CEO or other senior executive; thought leadership pieces such as white papers and Twitter conferences or “meetups” (tweetups).

With our clients, we work with them to develop the objectives of the initiative or campaign. We then define the strategy and build the plan. It is there that we begin to identify how we will share information, create engagement and interest, and make sure that the relevant stakeholder group has the opportunity to participate in a way that makes sense to them. And during this process, we bring everyone involved to the table and focus on creating a team effort, rather than a territorial battle. However, we have had projects where there were some challenges in this area and this is where it is important to already have clearly defined objectives, strategy and the roles and responsibilities that you can look back on.

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Here at our PR agency, we’re big fans of Jeff Bullas. He’s a smart and funny guy. More often than not, one of us will come into the office talking about a social media tool, technique or strategy; and, like magic, we get the link to Jeff’s blog and he is talking about the same thing. It’s like he’s a mind reader – an incredibly smart, strategic mind reader. And he is funny, irreverent and not just a little cheeky. We LOVE him.

And so – it was no surprise to see that another one of our favourite sites Ragan.com has a piece by Jeff that has some pretty impressive stats and facts about Google+. I have to admit, at AHA we’ve been checking it out. We took a great webinar on it by Chris Brogan and we’ve been reading everything we can about it. It looks interesting – but right now, it is a bit of a ghost town.

For the most part, AHA clients aren’t early adopters of new technology or social media tools. Our clients could be called mid-adopters and some are mid-to-later adopters. Many of our clients want to know where their stakeholders are before adopting a social media tool or technology and that makes sense for them. And it’s our role to guide, assist and support them. We are a communications agency that understands social media – not a social media marketing firm. It is important for us to be on top of Google+ and I am finding it very interesting. It certainly provides a range of options that Facebook doesn’t offer. However, we’re still watching it. We’ll keep you posted.

And if you don’t follow Jeff Bullas, you really should. He’ll up your social media game.

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We didn’t have a blog post yesterday as we were preparing for a webinar about Google+, delivered by Chris Brogan (an AHA favourite). From all accounts, Chris spent a huge amount of time (reportedly upwards of 250 hours) going through Google+ and he shared his insights, tips and hints. We’re excited to bring these to life on our end and continue learning from thought leaders to help our clients with their Google+ objectives.

There are quite a few articles out right now about the battle between Google+ and Facebook. I have listed a few below for you to review. One of the best insights comes from Brogan – in this article on Forbes.com.

His quote: “First off, if you’re immediately thinking, ‘The LAST thing I need is to figure out yet another social network,’ you’re totally right. This is the last thing you need. However, if you were fortunate enough to be a CMO back in 2007, and you said that about the transition from MySpace to Facebook, then you know what happened to people who didn’t surf the new wave instead of riding the one that petered out.”

Ragan.com has an infographic comparison of Facebook and Google +.

Searchengineland.com has an interesting piece: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

Reditonline.com asks Is Google+, Is It For Business Or Just Consumers?

What do you think of Google + so far?

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I have spent more than half my life surrounded by journalists – either working as a reporter for Maclean’s or in public relations. I love TV news, magazines, newspapers and the online world of news and information. One of the challenges I have (and so does my family) is that when I go on vacation, I want to watch the local news shows to see how they do things, see what they find newsworthy and find out what they are all about. Sometimes that can make the people with me cranky. (“Come on, let’s go to the beach!”)

Working with journalists is one of the things I like best about my job. Reporters, editor, producers, videographers and others in the news business are incredibly interesting and informed. They are great people to stand beside at cocktail parties because they have the best stories and are usually up on what is happening in the community, nationally and around the world. At AHA, we have strong, positive relationships with the majority of journalists that we have worked with over the years. Even in a challenging situation when a client is dealing with an issue or a crisis, good journalists want to get the story, get it right and to do a good job. We always approach any interaction with a journalist with the assumption that they have integrity and ethics. We respect what they do. Having said that, it’s also important to understand that they have a job to do and that they aren’t being paid to get your message out. They don’t work for you.

When we provide media training for clients, we often talk about the different personality types of reporters and the different ways a journalist will ask a question. I recently read a great piece on Ragan.com about some different “types” of reporters; it’s worth a read.

The people that make their living asking questions are adept at getting answers – it’s their job and most of them are really good at it. They prepare for an interview and that’s why we believe our clients should also prepare when they agree to an interview. Working with the media can create positive outcomes, but not if you go into an interview unprepared. You wouldn’t go into any meeting unprepared and an interview is a very important meeting – one where what you say is recorded and printed or broadcast.

At AHA, we work with clients to make sure they are prepared. It’s about making the most of an opportunity to reach your target market.

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