AHA Image - TV CameraWe work with our clients on media training. It doesn’t mean that we put words in their mouths or that we help them to “spin” a story. It means that we help our clients understand how the media works, what a journalist needs to get from an interview and how to be effective and relevant during the interview process.  At AHA, we take pride in working with clients that are ethical, that have integrity, and that care about their stakeholders and the work that they do. In our opinion, media training is about making the most of an interview opportunity – to share facts, to inform, to open a conversation. If the questions are tough or difficult, it is crucial to answer them with transparency and authenticity, and to provide valuable information that shows what is being done about the situation.

I have seen tough interviews from both sides – media and client – and it is one of the areas that we talk a great deal about at our Vancouver PR agency. An interview with a journalist can be of huge value in sharing information, in talking about your organization and – if an issue or crisis has happened – in providing background, the reason why it happened, and explaining what is happening now to your stakeholders and the public at large. (Just a note of caution here. If you are dealing with an issue or a crisis, as important as the media is, it isn’t the only avenue you should be taking to communicate with stakeholders and the public.)

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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. 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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When we are developing a communications plan for a client’s organization, I like to go and spend time there. Depending on the client, that might mean sitting in the employee cafeteria, the lobby or anywhere that staff might gather and chat. Sometimes that means I ride the elevator up and down a few times or go to the coffee shop closest to their office. It is so I can get a sense of the people behind the brand. Because really, that is who delivers on your brand promise. And one of the components of great PR is authentically communicating your brand promise to your stakeholder group.

There are some incredible people that work for your organization that deliver on your brand promise every day. They bring your brand to life and they make real connections with the people that purchase your goods or services. They make your organization a success through each action and interaction they have with your stakeholders.

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