Working With The East

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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2 Comments, RSS

  1. Sandra Garcia

    Thank you for this blog. It’s a great reminder of how savvy we need to be nationally in order to be successful.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Sandra. From our perspective, seeing each town, city or region as unique is important. It’s also important to see the bigger picture and identify or recognize national trends – which can turn into national coverage for our clients. I think many communicators are “news junkies” and read, watch and listen to many sources of daily news. We have satellite TV in our office so we can catch the Toronto news (sometimes the Toronto breakfast shows if I am in the office REALLY early or need to research them for a client) or the Calgary news or Saskatoon’s. It helps keep us focused on the fact that just because we are a Vancouver PR agency, our knowledge must include the culture, interests and news angles from the media and bloggers in cities and town across the country!


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