Communications

Media relations is a big part of what we, as communicators, do. Working with reporters is a priority for us at AHA. Everyone at our Vancouver PR Agency knows the value of a solid relationship with a journalist and we focus on developing and maintaining those media relationships.

I worked at Maclean’s magazine for a lot of years. I got to see how all types of PR people approached pitching. Some were good, some were awful (really, really awful); the best built relationships beyond the immediate pitch. They created a connection that respected the roles of both the reporter and the communicator. They went out of their way to establish mutual respect. Building these relationships doesn’t mean you get a free pass from the journalist, it means that you understand the objective each person has, you work in partnership so that it works for everyone involved and you respect how the person has to do their job.

We take media relations very seriously here at AHA. While we don’t know every journalist in North America – or even, Vancouver. When we take on a client, we learn who the journalists are that cover that industry. We read, we watch, we listen, and we pay attention. We understand what makes a good pitch in that context. We become immersed in what makes a good story in the context of what is going on in the industry and the world at that time. We develop our pitches and we go through a process that has us pitching our colleagues to see if there are any holes or weak spots in our pitch. This process is challenging, but it makes us better at what we do.

Ragan.com has a good piece on its site that outlines other key things to do when working with reporters. It’s worth a read.

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Over the past eight days, I have been to Calgary, Toronto and Tampa for meetings. I am used to travel – AHA clients are all over North America and while we work easily day-to-day using technology, meeting face to face is always a good thing.

I can work just about anywhere – airports, hotel lobbies, coffee shops and even busy sushi restaurants, if I have to. One of the things that always strikes me when I travel is the importance of being prepared, organized, flexible and still hitting our marks and our deadlines. As communicators, that’s who and what we have to be every day, no matter where we are – in our office or in an airport.

A good communicator always has a “plan b” and often a “plan c” in place. And, because our lives are so driven by deadlines, I think most of us arrive early (whether it’s for a meeting, a lunch, an event or a flight) so that we can make sure we are prepared and organized. That way, we can be flexible.

At our Vancouver PR firm and, indeed, with our crew across the country, we pride ourselves on being prepared, organized and efficient.  Perhaps it’s because we’re all travellers at heart. Or perhaps it’s because we are communicators and the skill set necessary to do our work translates well to travel.

As I sit in the Tampa airport waiting for my flight, I think I will take a little break from work and have a coffee and people-watch for a while. Hope you have a prepared, organized, flexible day that works for you.

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Quite often we, at AHA, are asked to develop a speech for our clients. I love speech writing, but have to admit – it’s not easy to develop a great one. It takes a lot of time and effort. For a speech to have an impact it has to have several elements, including being written in the voice of the person who will deliver it, containing good information, providing value and authentically connecting with the people listening.

At AHA, we spend the time needed to write great speeches for our clients.  We interview the speech giver, understand the culture and expectations of the audience and research the facts and stats – not to mention craft the language and the message. I usually lock myself away for a few hours and come out and give the first draft of the speech to the AHA crew to get input and feedback. Then it’s back to it again for a few more hours.

Invaluable resources when writing speeches are books. I was delighted when I found a piece on Ragan.com on the must have books for speechwriters. This is a great list and one that had me jumping onto Amazon immediately to add to my collection.

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