In today’s Fast Take Friday, AHA CEO Ruth Atherley talks about how to approach an agency or organization if you want to intern or work there. (Hint: it’s not all about you.)
The widespread (and growing) use of online technology continues to push organizations to realize the value of creating their own content. (Full disclosure – here at AHA, we push them to take advantage of this opportunity too!) It is a good way to connect with stakeholder groups (including customers or clients).
Creating strong, compelling, engaging and informative content doesn’t happen without effort – or good writing and editing. I was fortunate that I worked in the world of journalism prior to jumping the fence to PR and strategic communication. At Maclean’s magazine, where I worked, each article was developed by a team – there was the journalist/writer, the editor*, the researcher/fact checker, the copyeditor and the proofreader. It took several different skill sets to produce a good article. (*There were actually several editors – the section editor, the senior editor and the managing editor – who reviewed each piece with different perspectives: the piece itself and how it fit into the section and the overall magazine.)
For a communications piece – whether it is an annual report, newsletter, white paper, brochure, website content, frequently asked questions document, news release, speech or other document – it is important to understand and make use of all of the skill sets at your disposal.
The role of the writer is to gather the information, arrange the thoughts and ideas, and present an organized approach for the piece. A writer normally provides a creative outline or brief on what we expect to deliver. It may be as straightforward as a newsletter outline that identifies each article with its key messages, if anyone will be interviewed and quoted, and the deadline. Annual reports or other more complex documents get more detailed outlines.
The substantive editor is a person who works closely with the writer and deals primarily with the creative aspect of the content and the structure and order of the piece. If the content is highly technical, this person normally liaises between the writer and the subject expert as well. This person brings a clear perspective to the writing and supports the writer in ensuring that the information is clearly communicated, well organized, and that it makes sense. (Sometimes a writer can be so deep into the topic that they need support in making sure someone who is not as knowledgeable can understand the information.)
The copy editor deals with matters specific to the words (rather than the ideas of the content) and focuses on clarity, flow, sentence length, word selection, grammar, spelling and internal consistencies.
The Fact Checker
Another crucial role, the fact checker works with the writer and/or editor(s) and confirms the factual accuracy of the information in the document.
The proofreader reviews the document after all levels of editing and fact checking have been completed. The content is reviewed for overlooked errors in spelling, grammar, typos, etc., and when visual elements are used, they are the final check that all visual elements are placed correctly.
From our experience with our clients and in speaking with many of our colleagues who work in-house at organizations, many communicators either don’t have all of these skills or they don’t have the time to effectively write or edit pieces, with everything else on their plate. It’s a bit of a challenge because to develop a useful communications piece that informs, engages and inspires your target market or stakeholder group to action, it takes time and effort. For us, nothing is more disappointing than when we see a poorly written or edited piece; it loses its value and, unfortunately, doesn’t create the expected results (and it doesn’t look good for the communications professional). The need to create good content continues to grow, and understanding how to deliver solid content is an important component of the role of a communicator.
We have a strong writing, editing and proofreading team at AHA and, because of this, we do a great deal of this type of work for clients. One of the most high profile projects we have worked on was editing Forsaken: The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry – a 1,400-page, complex report.
At AHA, we offer a full range of editorial services – we write and/or edit and proofread newsletters, annual reports, special reports, white papers, briefing notes, plans, speeches, brochures, websites… the list goes on and on. We have always had a focus on content creation, and we have grown our writing and editing team to reflect that.
In today’s Fast Take Friday, Ruth explains the need for a short, quick video for stakeholders.
The work we do here at AHA Creative Strategies often seems to come in groups. Right now, we are working with several clients on issues communication and this comes right on the heels of writing quite a few issues and crisis communication plans for other clients.
It’s important to understand that an issue is different from a crisis. An issue is one that keeps you up at night worrying about it – inappropriate behaviour by an employee or senior executive, the unexpected or unexplained removal of a CEO or president, plant closure and employee layoffs, a strike vote by your union, a change in legislation that will affect how your organization does business, etc. Issues are often – but not always – played out in the media (both traditional and social media). An issue threatens your brand, image and organization’s reputation.
A crisis is immediate and there is more at stake than just your reputation (although how you handle a crisis and take care of those affected by it could impact your reputation). A crisis threatens the survival of your organization. It can be a natural disaster (earthquake, flood, tsunami, hurricane) or it can be created by humans – an accident or act of violence at the workplace, mine collapse, hostage situation, airline crash, cruise ship sinking, etc.
In speaking with our clients – from the large multinational organizations that we work with, to our entrepreneurial clients – we always recommend putting an issue and crisis plan in place. When something happens, having a plan that has a complete checklist that provides you with a step-by-step way to move forward is crucial. During an issue or a crisis, your focus must be on managing the situation and ensuring that you are clearly, authentically and transparently communicating with your stakeholder groups – especially those affected.
With clients, we often present a workshop that provides the opportunity to role-play situations specific to their industry or geographic location, so that the key people who would be involved in helping to manage an issue or crisis get a sense of what would be expected of them at that time. It is of huge value to the individuals who participate and it provides them with context so that when we write an issue and crisis communication plan, they can provide input and feedback.
Making sure that your organization – no matter how small – has a plan is important. Thinking about the worst-case scenarios and developing an issue and crisis communication plan is a business asset. You don’t want to find yourself dealing with a big problem and not knowing what your next step should be.
Vancouver, B.C. – BikeHike Adventures Inc., a Vancouver-based adventure travel tour company, is celebrating 20 years of being in business by hiring a PR agency to spread the word about their more than 50 unique, active and culturally immersive travel tours.
Trish Sare, Founder and Director of BikeHike Adventures, said: “We’ve been assisting our clients in seeing special parts of the world for two decades and wanted to share more of our stories with other like-minded travellers. PR is a great way to do that.” She added: “We have worked with AHA Creative Strategies on small projects before and they understand what we’re all about. Through our publicity efforts, we’re hoping to connect with more people that want a rich, deeply cultural travel experience like the ones we offer. We’re excited about celebrating our anniversary with PR!”
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014, BikeHike Adventures specializes in multi-sport adventure travel tours in more than 30 countries worldwide. Biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, sea kayaking and horseback riding are just a few examples of the multi-sport activities offered. Tours have a range of activity levels from easy to strenuous. Customized private holidays are available, as are volunteer adventure trips, active family vacations, honeymoons and corporate team-building trips. All tours are limited to 12 individuals in order to provide a more authentic experience. With no single supplement fee, solo travellers are welcome and encouraged.
AHA Creative Strategies is a boutique agency that specializes in travel, tourism and hospitality PR. AHA has developed, executed and managed highly successful PR campaigns and projects for travel clients locally, nationally, in the U.S. and internationally.
For more information on BikeHike Adventures or to interview Trish Sare, please contact Paul Holman at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-886-1788.