August 2011





One of the most powerful tools that we have used to help educate and engage stakeholders is an article. We often write articles for our clients – about their organization, about successes and challenges (and how they overcome the challenges to achieve success), and even about new products and services. We distribute the piece to traditional and online media for use – free of charge. We use it on the organization’s website, in industry association or other relevant newsletters, and we often share links to the article with a range of stakeholders. We’ve had great success in this area.



One of our key assets is that we have several people on our crew that come from the journalism world. Another is that we write the articles in an editorial style. It is researched, balanced and well written.



As simple as it sounds, there are times when we have to explain why we take an editorial approach and why it matters. When organizations are used to using marketing or sales copy, it can be a challenge for them to embrace a more balanced, authentic way of telling their story. They just aren’t used to it. For some organizations it is a culture shift.



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It might seem archaic to those of us living in a social media world, but not everyone sees the benefit or value. We often hear from communications professionals that they want to incorporate social media into their overall communications strategy, but they can’t get buy in from their senior executive team. It’s not as unusual an occurrence as you might think. And if it’s happening to you – you aren’t alone.



When we work with clients that have this challenge, we focus on what the senior team needs to hear. While every team has its own idiosyncrasies, there are some key points that work for most.

Show the business case for social media use.

Depending on the industry, this can mean anything from explaining what it could mean for sales and customer service to providing the rationale on how participating in the social media world is a component of reputation management. A well-thought-out, concise business case can put the use of social media into perspective.



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Ragan’s PR Daily has a really good blog post on brand journalism. Here is a snippet from Shel Holtz’s piece, who we saw present at a Ragan social media conference two years ago.

“Marketing is what companies do to promote and sell products or services. Organizations produce plenty of it. Brand journalism, though, is different. This is content that could be inspiring, clarifying, funny, useful, or just plain interesting. Because it has these characteristics, people will want to link to it, share it, and talk about it precisely because it’s not trying to pitch something. As soon as it begins to smack of The Pitch, it loses its appeal.”

Click here to read more. Shel “gets” it!

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AHA Creative Strategies is a public relations agency. We’re communicators. We’re social media participants. We’re brand journalists. We use video, video news releases, b-roll, podcasts, photography, articles, news releases, media and blogger pitches, news conferences, media tours, speaking tours, speeches, special events, trade shows, community meetings, annual reports, newsletters and so much more to assist our clients in communicating with their stakeholder groups. (Notice I said “with” – not “to” – that’s very important.) We are in the business of informing, educating and creating conversation. As importantly, we’re in the business of listening and responding.



I mentioned in Monday’s blog post that I would focus on some of the tools we, at AHA, provide to clients and why they are of value. I think before I do that, I should take a step back and define what good public relations is – to us. (I don’t want this blog post to be too long, so next Wednesday I will focus on the specific tactics. Although, I have to warn you, I got a bit carried away – today’s post is a little long!)



Good public relations is working in partnership with clients. Even when it is challenging, we tell them what they need to hear – rather than just take orders and deliver what they want us to. We identify what they need (which isn’t always the same) and we approach what we do with optimistic realism. Timelines, deadlines, client resources and budgets also have to be taken into consideration.



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