PR Pro: Arik Hanson

Arik Hanson, APR, is the principal of ACH Communications, which is a digital communications consultancy. Arik is known for his ability to create tight-knit communities, build strong brand awareness, and drive thought leadership for organizations. He also makes quite an impact on Twitter, where he has been ranked highly on multiple “must-follow” lists by PR professionals. If you are not familiar with Arik, you can check him out at ArikHanson.com or you can follow him on Twitter @ArikHanson. You can also find out more about him in the following interview.
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Who would you say is the biggest client you’ve ever worked with, and what was it like working with them?
In terms of size/revenue, it’s Select Comfort. They’re not only the largest client I currently work with, they’re also my biggest client in terms of size and commitment. Personally, it’s an extremely fun client for me to work on because many of the women on the PR and corporate communications team are friends and people I’ve known for quite a while now. Professionally, it’s a lot of fun because it’s a mix of work–digital, PR and corporate communications. That fits my background well, as I have experience in all three areas. Top to bottom, Select Comfort is a tremendous client. And, I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with them.
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You have been voted by multiple people as a top person to follow on Twitter. What is it about Twitter that you love so much?
I think love’s a strong word 🙂 But, I’ve enjoyed using Twitter, primarily because it’s been such a great relationship-building tool for me. I’ve met people from northern Minnesota all the way to Australia and India by way of Twitter. I’ve been invited to speak at events across the world (including Barcelona–still not sure why I turned that one down). I’ve been introduced to new clients via relationships I built on Twitter. And, I’ve met a lot of very, very good friends on Twitter, too (see my PR Rock Stars series for a few examples).
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When was the first time you realized that you had the talent for a career in PR?
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not that talented. Never really have been. But, I’m a good writer. I like to solve problems. And, I love working with people. Those elements naturally led me to a career in PR.
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What was your motivation in the creation of HAPPO? Is it achieving what you hoped it would?
First, I didn’t “create” HAPPO. The only reason HAPPO exists today is because of the people that support it–and our champions across the country (including Valerie Simon, who was really my co-conspirator at the outset). Without people like Jeremy Pepper, Nikki Little, Justin Goldsborough, Gini Dietrich, Mike Schaffer, Jen Wilbur, Lauren Fernandez, Heather Whaling and a host of others, HAPPO literally never happens. But, I think our collective goal was merely to help PR pros across the country find mentors, learn new skills and yes, find new opportunities. Over the last two-plus years, we’ve heard a number of success stories–people who have literally found jobs or met new connections through HAPPO. So, that alone makes it a success in my mind.
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What’s the greatest thing you have learned about the PR industry that you think can help aspiring PR professionals?

That relationships trump skills. I’ve seen it happen in the job search process. I’ve seen it happen in media relations. And, I’ve seen it happen in social media circles. This industry is completely about relationships. So, you better know how to develop, nurture and sustain effective relationships with your colleagues, your boss, your peers, reporters, and your customers. If you can’t do that–or that doesn’t sound fun–this is the wrong industry for you.

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