AHA Flip Cam Friday…
In today’s video, Ruth talks about the communication strategy surrounding the Chilean miners’ rescue efforts.
The New York Times has an excellent in-depth article focused on crisis communications. For anyone in communications and PR, it’s worth a read. It’s long – 5,200 words – and it’s interesting. That The New York Times would produce an article this long says something about the importance and value of this topic and, of course, the flat out interest in it.
Shel Holtz has a very interesting piece on whether writing is a core skill for a professional communicator. He did a round up, asking several strategic communications professionals for their take and their responses are thoughtful and relevant. It’s an interesting topic and this piece is definitely worth reading.
There are some communicators who focus more on the actual craft of writing in their day-to-day work than others, but I can’t imagine that a professional communicator doesn’t need solid writing skills to do their job. Communication is at the very foundation of what we do (we are called communicators, after all) and words are the building blocks for communication. No matter how we communicate – through speeches, newsletters, meetings, video, webinars or any other form – at some point, there is writing involved. To be able to write clearly means that you can think clearly and that’s where it all begins – developing a strategy, defining the message and identifying the tools.
I think that there are different levels of writing well. There are some people that are gifted storytellers; these people can bring the information being shared to life. Their words engage. Others write in a more “corporate” manner, providing just the facts in an informative and straightforward way. Different things apply to different projects or initiatives. However, I strongly believe that if a person doesn’t have, at the very least, the basic skills – including spelling, punctuation and grammar – they will have a real challenge as a communicator.
We had the opportunity recently to speak with Glen Korstrom of Business in Vancouver about the impact that social media has had on the world of public relations. In fact, we’re quoted in his article this week. (You need a subscription to read the piece online.) We were thrilled that we were quoted as a thriving Vancouver PR agency that has embraced social media as a part of our offering.[caption id="attachment_2517" align="alignright" width="240" caption="AHA - We're not afraid to get our feet wet!"][/caption]
I wanted to share a little more of what we discussed. As mentioned in the article, while there are many who do think that the business model for PR is broken, I’m not one of them. I think that it has evolved and that it had to change for many reasons, including social media, but it’s not broken. And let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about the business model here, not the actual work that PR people or communicators undertake on behalf of their clients. How we, as PR agencies, run our businesses and make a profit has had to shift. And for our part, we began shifting years ago and it’s been a positive move for us. We saw the evolution of the business of PR as an opportunity for AHA.
As for the work that we do as communicators, in my opinion, social media has provided us with additional tools and opportunities. But at the core of it all – and I know you’ve heard me say this before – it is strategy. In fact, social media has provided the opportunity to authentically connect with stakeholders in a way that even five years ago, we never dreamed would be possible. Social media is only one component of a communicator’s toolkit and I think it’s important to keep that in mind.[caption id="attachment_2518" align="alignright" width="240" caption="AHA - Making a splash!"][/caption]
I don’t think that it’s just social media that has changed the business model. I also think the recent recession had many organizations reviewing how they could get the most value out of their PR or communications budget. Smaller agencies like AHA provide clients with excellent service, we’re really good at what we do, we’re proactive and we’re incredibly responsive to client needs. AND at AHA, a partner works on every account. You don’t meet the senior team at the initial meeting and then get passed off to a more junior person. At the end of the day – in the middle and at the start of it – it’s Paul and I that are connected to the client. Don’t get me wrong; it’s definitely a team effort here. Depending on the project, different members of our crew are actively involved, but accountability and responsibility rest on my shoulders and on Paul’s. We are hearing more and more that this is important to clients and they like that they get top level skill sets with the client service that can only come from a small agency.
I know that we’re not for everyone. And that’s ok with us. The fact is, we choose our clients as carefully as they choose us. When we started AHA, we outlined who we want to be and how we want to spend our time at work. One of the biggest factors for us is that we wanted to find great clients – people who want to create a real partnership, see us as a valuable part of their team, and provide us with the same respect and consideration that we give them. And let me tell you, we have great clients!
Social media and technology have created the need for change in the business model of PR. And I have to say, given our record of success at this new model; we’re pretty excited about it!
What do you think, how has social media changed the business model for PR?