Vancouver PR Agency

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I find it interesting that social media is still such a big, overwhelming topic for many people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good for business. I think that as much as it has revolutionized how we communicate – and for those of us who are professional communicators, it has changed how we do our work – it is still just a tool. A very interesting, challenging and addictive tool, but a tool nonetheless.

I think that the perception of how complex, complicated and vast social media is – is a challenge. When I present to groups or lead brainstorming and planning sessions with clients, I hear how overwhelming it feels to them. Now, we’re a PR firm that provides social media services, so I think we have a different perspective on it than a social media marketer or an online community developer might, but at the core of it, social media is only a component of your communications plan or your overall marketing plan. When you take a step back and see that you need to develop a strategy first, it takes a bit of the stress off. Once you understand your strategy, then you can research which tools – whether traditional or social media focused – are the right ones.

We are often asked to come and speak to fairly large organizations to lead them through PR and social media planning. I think sometimes they are surprised to learn that we are just a small Vancouver PR agency with a specific approach to the use of social media.

Personally, I think social media is the best thing to happen to PR in a long time. It moves forward into a business (and personal) world of transparency, showcasing doing the right thing and owning up to mistakes if/when they are made.

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There is a great blog post on Social Media Philippines that touches on the actions that will create a failure, when it comes to social media. It’s worth a read.

Last week I attended and participated in a presentation given by our friend and colleague Della Smith of Q Workshops. This presentation was focused on how you include social media in your overall communications strategy. What I like about this presentation is that it provides a roadmap of what you should do, as well as showcases what not to do. Della and I present a specialized workshop for organizations where we walk clients through developing or updating their communications plan to include social media. Our approach is always to work with our client to design a proactive plan that includes reactive components, blending traditional communications with social media.

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I had a call with a potential client the other day that got me thinking. They are a national organization with their head office based in Vancouver and they are looking for a Vancouver-based PR agency. It’s always interesting to me what external perception is of AHA. During this conversation, I probed to uncover their needs, but also their concerns about a Vancouver PR agency handling campaigns and initiatives out east.

We’re a boutique agency, which really is just another way of saying we’re small. This potential client wanted to make sure that we felt comfortable dealing with media out east and that we understood the culture differences between Vancouver and Toronto. I grew up in downtown Toronto and spent the first half of my career there, so I was able to put that worry away quite easily. They were also surprised and impressed that we have a senior team member in Toronto. (Just for the record, we also have someone in Calgary too.)

For the most part, much of the national media is in Toronto. It is important to build strong relationships for our agency, and especially our clients, in the major markets across the country. Just because we’re a Vancouver PR agency shouldn’t – and doesn’t – limit us.

Now, the particular person I was speaking with had some other concerns that came up in our conversation, which I found interesting. Her organization had worked with a much larger agency in the past. The Vancouver PR agency had their head office in Toronto and they found that to be a bit of a challenge. It felt to her like she had two agencies on her account rather than it being a seamless blending of west and east coast skills and expertise. I don’t think this happens all the time, but it is one of the things that I believe makes AHA a good choice for some clients. When we have a campaign, there is always an AHA partner as the lead. Whether it’s a Vancouver, BC, or national outreach – either Paul or myself are actively involved.

Maybe it’s because we’re travellers here in the AHA office; we get around Canada, the U.S. and the world quite a bit. Toronto doesn’t seem so far away to me. And having the lovely and smart Lori on the ground there gives us an advantage, the same with having Kim in Calgary. We’re plugged in; we can see the big picture without ignoring the local angle.

We might be considered a Vancouver PR agency, but I see us more as a great Canadian PR agency.

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Mat Wilcox of Wilcox Group announced yesterday that she is closing her shop. In the world of a Vancouver PR agency, that’s big news. There have been several iconic Vancouver PR agencies close over the past year, including our good friends at QUAY Strategies.

The women that began these agencies are smart and innovative and are moving on to different chapters of their lives. I think it is important for those of us who have learned from them, looked up to them and modeled ourselves after them in so many different ways to take a moment to acknowledge their contribution to PR in Vancouver.

They have changed perception of PR professionals from one of people who run events to one of being strategic partners that have earned a seat at the executive table. They have mentored and inspired many, many people in the world of PR and have made an indelible imprint on the PR industry in Canada.

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There are many sides to what we do as PR people… one of the areas that has come out of social media is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Don’t get me wrong, we are a Vancouver PR agency – not SEO specialists. We have taken the time to learn about SEO and how it relates to what we do for our clients, but theory and practice are two different things. We’re always trying to upgrade our knowledge and skill sets and with this in mind, we thought that we would try a small experiment with SEO. And we hope that you will indulge us.

AHA Creative Strategies is a Vancouver PR agency with clients throughout North America. Currently when you Google “AHA” or “AHA Creative” – you find us pretty easily. When you search Vancouver PR agency, we’re not in the first few links that you see and we would like to be. As a PR agency, we spend a great deal of time developing news releases, news briefs, web articles and other online content that are written with SEO in mind. For AHA, our outreach consists mainly with this blog and our AHA Twitter and Facebook accounts. So – how do we move ourselves up the Google and Bing search rankings under “Vancouver PR agency?”

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