Christina’s Coffee Talk: Arik Hanson

Arkin Hanson
Arik Hanson

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Arik Hanson. Bringing brand loyalty to a new level, Arik is willing to drive 10 miles out of his way just for some Caribou Coffee. I guess it tastes so good once it hits your lips.  Arik’s free time is spent with, wife (Angela) and kids (Matthew and Amy), play ing golf and riff on the guitar (emphasis on riff).  His musicial taste ranges from Green Day to Johnny Cash to Tesla.  Top 3 current movies include, The Hangover (best comedy in last 5 years); Madagascar 2 (thanks to my son, Wag the Dog (one of my all-time faves and also a great movie from a PR perspective); The Dark Knight (just a tremendous movie). Professionally Arik, is principal of ACH Communications,and also long-time PRSA member, serving on the Minnesota PRSA board for the past three years and is a frequent speaker at local colleges and universities. His blog is a must-read within in the PR/Social Media industry. Especially for a newbie to social media, like myself, his blog sheds light on the industry and introduces readers to other influential people. And so I give you Arik Hanson…

In a recent #prstudchat, a question surrounding ethics was proposed. As professionals, what do we do when we no longer believe in a client/product/service that we are working on? What would you do? What would be your advice? Has this happened to you?

You are a professional. You have a job to do. That said, if a client compromises your ethics, you have some tough choices. Do you compromise your personal ethics for the sake of a client? I haven’t personally run into this year (knock on wood), but I can tell you I tend to look at the big picture. My ethics and work will live on far after my work with this one particular client or organization. Those relationships, ethics, whatever they are, they’re far more valuable to me than any one client.

Danny Brown recently blogged “Is Twitter killing blog comments?”. Which started me wondering whether its better to tweet before blogging or vice versa. Personally, I started tweeting before blogging. What did you do first? Do you believe that there is less conversation on blogs because of twitter?

I blogged first, but it was close. I actually think there’s more interaction on blogs because of Twitter. Twitter bonds folks with common interests together, right? At least in theory. So, it gives folks insight and access to blogs they may have not found otherwise. I find new blogs every day through Twitter (OK, maybe not every day, but most days).

I agree. A lot of the blogs I have in my google reader are usually because of retweets. But do you think that people are still taking the time to think about a comment, and bring the discussion possibly to the next level?

There are still great conversations happening on blogs every day. Just look at Lauren Fernandez’s blog. Or Dave Fleet’s. Or, quite frankly, Danny’s. To an extent Twitter is “stealing” some of the conversation that may have happened in the comments section previously. But, like I said, from a top-line view, I think Twitter has added value to blogs, not detracted from it.

Something I’ve been discussing with colleagues recently is how people are using social media platforms to express their personalities and maintain being a professional. Do you feel at times you censor yourself on Twitter?

Actually, I think I probably put myself out there too much online. But you know what, that’s who I am. I’m still a professional. I still focus squarely on results for the organizations I serve. And I try to do it in an honest way. And, quite frankly, I think by being more human, I’ve been able to connect with more people online.

People want that honesty. They sometimes just don’t want to admit it to themselves. And to add to that, I think if we are “real” on these SM platforms, we will create a community that is more respectful and have more things in common.

You recently retweeted from @dorreno “If you’re not spending at least 15% of your time improving your skills you’re cheating yourself & co.” How would you suggest improving skills, particularly writing?

I happen to think there are so many different ways you can learn new skills/hone existing ones. 1. Join a professional organization. Then, join a committee. Meet new people. Don’t be shy. 2. Read. Read. Then read some more. It’s the one of the best things you can do to improve your writing skills and learn. 3. Volunteer! Try NFPs. They need help. And they often need A LOT of help. This way, if you need to develop media relations skills, you can do it with low risk and make a difference for an organization you really care about. Get your Social Media MBA (Sorry, that was 4)

For people that are new to blogging, where do you find the content that sparks conversation? How often should one post? Where do you find the inspiration for your posts? Is it topical, or something you’ve been thinking about?

How often should you post? I think that’s different for everyone. Hell, the Superman that is Danny Brown posts every day. Sometimes twice a day! I usually shoot for 2-3 times a week. The point is you want consistent content that engages your readers. Where do I find inspiration? In my work. On Twitter. In other posts. In the comments in other posts. In conversations over coffee with colleagues. At dinner with my wife. At lunch with my colleagues. At the State Fair (see my post last week). Inspiration is everywhere.

As for producing content that spurs conversation, I don’t think there’s a magic bullet. Sometimes a more “human” post will strike a chord. Other times, it’s a timely PR/SM issue. It really just depends. But I do think it’s different for everyone.

I urge you to join our coffee talk and add to the questions/comments. If you have any additional questions/comments for Arik please post them below and we’ll see if he can spare a few more minutes for some answers.