Public Relations





There have been good articles written recently (The Globe and Mail and BC Business) that talk about Air Canada and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) labour negotiations and how Facebook played a strong role. Both articles are worth a read, whether you work in a union environment or not. They are proof that social media is a key tool in your organization’s communication. It’s here to stay. Even if you are engaging and facilitating open and relevant discussion, groups will still form (and are forming at this very moment) without your input. At the very least, you need to know about them.



At AHA, we have done a great deal of work studying online behaviour relevant to communication. What is being said and discussed online is a key component for an organization – from building and managing its reputation to dealing with potential issues and crisis communication. However, there are still large organizations that have not yet come to terms with this for some reason. Some aren’t even monitoring what is being said or who is saying it. More and more we are seeing issues come up, not from an outside source, but through online discussions by employees.



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At a recent client brainstorming meeting about brand journalism and how we could better tell the story of the organization, there was a senior staff member that was clearly not engaged in the process. For the purpose of this blog post, we’ll call her VP Skeptical. She sat back with her arms folded, checked her BlackBerry every minute or so, and in pure Survivor Tribal Council fashion – rolled her eyes when someone else said something that she didn’t agree with. Yet VP Skeptical didn’t speak up. So I asked her what she felt was the best story they could tell. Her response was interesting. She said (with a little bit of sarcasm in her voice): “I just don’t see the value in any of this. Why can’t we just buy an ad?”



That was an interesting comment and one I felt we had to address. As communicators, we often see the value and rationale for telling an organization’s story through a range of approaches such as media relations, videos, articles, etc. Not everyone’s brain works that way and it’s important to engage in discussion around this.



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We had one final Fast Take Friday from Paris to show you. It was at the Arc de Triomphe where it is incredibly busy with traffic (so much traffic), people (so many tourists) and that particular day wind! So much wind that it overpowered our little Flip Cam’s microphone and made the video unusable.



This technical issue brings up a key point in what we do as communicators. Our Fast Take Fridays are important to us. We plan them out carefully, deciding what topics are relevant, why they matter to you and what tips and hints to share. The ones we did in Paris were a bit of a bonus and I have to admit, I took the technical aspects for granted. Something we never do on a client project.  This technical issue actually allows me to talk about the value of planning and the importance of it.



The magic of a great communications initiative is in the planning—whether it is a video, a brand journalism campaign, an article, media relations outreach, speech writing or any kind of writing for that matter, a town hall event (or any event), a communications audit, an issue and crisis communication plan…well, you get my drift. You have to be prepared for the what ifs—because in our world, if you don’t have a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D, you are going to find yourself overwhelmed and reacting, rather than proactively making strategic decisions and shifting your efforts to generate results.



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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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