Vancouver PR Agency

Here at AHA (you know, in this Vancouver PR agency of ours!), we’re big fans of Brian Solis. Recently, we came across a post on his site that we’d like to share with you – the 21 Rules of Engagement in Social Media. (He also has a book – Engage – that he has just published that is worth purchasing. There is a link on his blog.)

Engagement is, in my opinion, one of the biggest challenges for an organization that wants to use social media as a part of their communications outreach. It’s relatively simple to set up a Twitter or Facebook page, but not as easy to populate these areas with good content that engages your community.

The first step that Brian outlines is this: Discover all relevant communities of interest and observe the choices, challenges, impressions, and wants of the people within each network.

That seems simple enough, but there are a lot of organizations that – in their haste and excitement to participate – jump past it. Don’t.

Believe me, it is an important step. I have had several interesting discussions with CEOs and other senior executives that challenge me on why they should invest (one said waste) time and money on this step. Understanding the culture and the different style of communication online is crucial. There have been several big organizations in the news recently that faced a PR crisis because they didn’t appreciate that online is a different environment and each online community may have their own protocol and style. One point that I make when walking a senior team through this point is – you wouldn’t take your organization into a new market without first understanding its culture, political landscape and the way life works on a day-to-day basis in the “real” world. It’s no different online. Not only is it valuable to identify all the relevant communities of interest – it is crucial to spend some time understanding the culture and paying attention to how they want you to join the conversation.

The time you invest in listening and learning will pay off in the long run.

We’ll be touching on a few more of Brian’s points over the next few weeks. We’d love to hear what you think.

Read more

[caption id="attachment_2304" align="aligncenter" width="552" caption="Vancouver"][/caption]

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more
%d bloggers like this: