Media Relations

At AHA, we love media relations. That’s not necessarily a common thing among communicators. I know many PR people who don’t like the media relations aspect of their job at all. In fact, I have had several senior communicators laughingly say they are so glad that they don’t have to do that anymore (since they got the manager, director, or VP title).

That comment always surprises me. Pitching journalists, producers, bloggers – everyone that has a role in sharing a good story – is one of the most challenging, rewarding and FUN things we do here at AHA. We have a solid crew here when it comes to identifying and telling an organization’s story in an interesting and compelling way. We have a defined process of how we develop a story idea, which media we target with the idea or angle, and when. It is all planned out – and every component matters.

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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.

Read more – I love this site. It lets journalists tell us why they are mad. And they are really angry. For most people in communications, media relations is a part of the gig. It can be incredibly challenging and rewarding and, depending on what day it is, what the other news is and who you get on the other end of the phone — it can be tough. This site helps me understand better what the person on the other end of the phone is dealing with when I call to pitch. Journalists have a tough job — and it’s getting tougher as the world goes online more and more — and more! This site gives us a little peek through the fence. I know it helps me do my job better because I get what they are up against. It isn’t just about the pitch (although that’s important)… there’s more to getting their attention than that.

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