Public Relations

We have regular production meetings at AHA and during today’s briefing, it hit me that public relations is a different profession today than it was even a year ago. Technology, specifically online technology, has changed how we do our job.

At AHA, we have always approached the publicity and media relations component of what we do much as a media outlet would. We have regular story meetings, we hold our ideas up to scrutiny and we review each pitch through the eyes of the specific journalist and media outlet that we are approaching. We have a focus on acting (as much as possible) like a newsroom would when it comes to clearly identifying the news value and the heart of the story before we take it to media.

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The Idea Grove, a Dallas-based PR agency has released an assessment quiz designed to help corporate communicators determine whether their PR agency is doing a good job for them. It’s worth a read – for both clients and those of us in agencies.

We circulated the link here at AHA and I think I might frame it and put it up over my desk. This quiz has great questions that anyone working with an agency should ask themselves and that agencies should review to make sure that they are excelling.

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Our friends at Beaupre & Co Public Relations have a great blog post about how to get the most from your PR firm. If you work with an agency or are considering an agency, it’s worth a read.

We have this discussion often at the AHA offices and with clients. For us, it’s always about how do we deliver the most to our clients. To do that, we have come to realize that our client sometimes needs to focus on how to get the most from AHA. Sometimes, it’s a learning experience for them – especially if they haven’t worked with an agency before or they have had a bad or mediocre experience.

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There is a very good article on about the social media sins to avoid. The highlights of the piece include the points that:

Good social media strategies result in viral, but viral is not a strategy.
Money isn’t the best social currency; relationships and knowledge are.
Social media is a strategic amplifier for your campaign, not the entire campaign.
This is piece is worth reading. The writer, Chris Aarons, makes some important points that could influence how you approach social media. One of the points he makes started a bit of a discussion here in the AHA office. In point number five (Social is PR), he says that social media is too big for one department. By defining social media in a public relations or communications capacity, it limits the scope of your campaign. I agree with Chris on this; there is a bigger range for social media that can extend far beyond communications. However, in our experience, at the core of it, social media is a PR tool that can support other areas. At it’s most basic, PR is about creating authentic relationships with your public(s) and whether that information is used by the research & development team, sales, quality control or other areas…in my opinion, it needs to be developed with the strategic input of the communicators or PR people in your organization.

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I have spent a lot of time in my professional life pitching story angles either as a journalist with an idea for an article, where I had to get my editor’s buy in, or as a PR person putting forward a pitch to media about a client’s organization. Since many of my colleagues and friends are either journalists or communicators, I also spend a fair bit of time discussing what makes a good story, even when it isn’t about a specific pitch.

One of the things that AHA clients rely on us for is to help them with media and blogger relations. In the new world of communication, it is important to understand how to pitch both mainstream media (most of which now have some kind of online component), as well as online media, which includes bloggers. At the core of a good pitch is the story.

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