Today we’d like to introduce you to George Haj.
George, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Miami and didn’t plan to be a journalist, but I took a journalism class as an elective in college and immediately fell in love with it. I started my career at Florida Today in Melbourne, where I covered the Shuttle Challenger explosion, which exploded over my head as I watched, and soon became an editor, handling coverage of state government and education.
I joined the Miami Herald in 1990 as an editor in their suburban bureaus (starting in their smallest office in Cutler Ridge), ran the bureau in Homestead for a year after Hurricane Andrew, and worked as an assistant city editor, state editor, and executive business editor. Along the way, I was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, where I spent a year studying technology and international relations. In 2003, I jumped to the Houston Chronicle, where I was business editor, and later directed all the news departments as deputy managing editor.
During this time, I directed coverage that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Houston for Hurricane Ike, was part of a team that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Hurricane Andrew in Miami and drove newsroom transformations to focus on digital. Much of my work was driving business news coverage on issues ranging from energy to real estate to law. I spent my last three years in journalism working for ALM Media, overseeing legal media newsrooms in Miami, Atlanta and Dallas – and then the entire ALM newsroom of more than 100 journalists around the country.
Journalism was a wonderful job, but I wanted to start my own firm and serve a variety of clients so in April 2017 I formed Haj Media, a strategic communications firm focusing on law firms, crisis communications, and corporate clients.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
After so many years in journalism, the biggest challenge in our first few months was convincing prospective clients that I was committed to this business and wasn’t going to return to a job in newspapers. As the company has grown and we’ve shown a commitment to our work and success with leading clients in Florida, that’s no longer a concern.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Haj Media story. Tell us more about the business.
We’re most proud of our ability to handle sophisticated work for clients who handle incredibly complex material, including law and finance.
What sets us apart is our contacts across the media landscape, our knowledge of social media best practices, and our ability to reach both journalists in traditional media (WSJ, NYT, Miami Herald, Houston Chronicle) as well as business media (Bloomberg, Business Journals, American Lawyer, The Real Deal, etc.). And also develop plans for social media outreach as well.
Haj Media is a strategic communications firm focusing on four core areas:
–Media relations work for law firms looking to promote their attorneys and share their successes in law and in the community, both in traditional media and in social media.
–Crisis communications for companies of all sizes looking to protect against public challenges to their reputations. This means working proactively to develop crisis management plans so the firm – and Haj Media – can move quickly to develop responses. News moves at the speed of Twitter these days; so do we in response.
–Media relations for companies who need someone to handle everything from press releases to editing internal communications and handling their social media accounts.
–Editing and project management for media companies, foundations and others who want the most rigorous editing of their projects.
And we’re available 24/7 to jump into a crisis situation and stay with it until the crisis has passed.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My parents were educators with the Miami-Dade school system and often had summers off, so they would pack me and my two brothers in the station wagon and we’d do a 1,500-mile drive to Toronto, where we’d stay with my aunts and uncle for two or three weeks and then do the long drive home.
It was a wonderful way to explore the country and even as a young boy. I enjoyed picking up a newspaper from cities along the way and learning about different communities. Places like Savannah, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo were so different from Miami – it was eye-opening to see the country that way and ingrained in me a newspaper habit that took me into journalism and then to my own communications firm.
- Address: 9480 NE 2nd Ave.
#3 Miami Shores, FL 33138
- Website: www.hajmedia.net
- Phone: 305-239-6951
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: @hajmediainc