Case Studies

At AHA, we’ve already done some great brand journalism work with clients. We have developed several case studies to showcase what can be accomplished for your organization.

Travel Brand Journalism

Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) sought to increase Canadian travellers’ knowledge of New Zealand and its offerings and move travellers to the action of booking a trip to New Zealand.

To meet this objective, the AHA team implemented a range of strategic themes to generate word-of-mouth and coverage in both traditional and online media. Each supporting tactic focused on the key messages.

In addition to ongoing media and blogger outreach with new, timely and relevant tourism and travel information from various regions, cities and events within New Zealand, the AHA team also identified key media to approach regarding TNZ’s International Media Program. This program provides key travel journalists with the opportunity to participate in familiarization trips to New Zealand. The trips are usually individually planned, as the key media approached to participate in this program are top-level media. AHA works with the journalists to develop and define story ideas relevant to their media outlet(s). Journalists from The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, The Globe and Mail, The National PostThe Vancouver Sun, The Province, CTV’s Canada AM, CTV’s eTalk, Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, CAA Magazine,, and several trade publications have visited New Zealand as participants in this program over the past seven years. AHA works with TNZ Los Angeles and Auckland to coordinate and manage these trips, works with the journalists on their return to provide photos and additional material, and then follows up to ensure that articles are generated.

In the area of brand journalism, AHA also develops written travel articles for Tourism New Zealand. These articles can be used free of charge and are written in an editorial style. They are distributed to online publications, community newspapers and other media. They have run on (1.9 million unique visitors per month), (640,000 unique visitors per month), and Travel Video News (10,000 unique visitors per month). They have also been used on AOL Canada (1 million unique visitors per month), (1.1 million unique visitors per month) and (233,000 unique visitors per month).

The AHA team also developed an annual, internationally-focused travel, trade brand journalism campaign that was distributed via social media channels. This was done on behalf of TNZ and the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand. TRENZ is the largest travel trade show in New Zealand and is held annually. Travel trade media and travel professionals are invited to this trade show to connect with New Zealand tourism operators.

In 2009, there were several challenges in getting media to New Zealand, including concerns over H1N1 and the global economic recession. AHA put forward a proposal that would use a brand journalism approach delivered online through flip-style videos, a time-limited blog and Twitter, to provide “almost live” first person updates from TRENZ to offer relevant and timely information and give those who could not be at TRENZ the opportunity to interact and ask questions of specific travel operators.

This brand journalism approach was then expanded to include a week-long familiarization trip in specific areas prior to the trade show. This three-week travel brand journalism campaign was heavily promoted to English-speaking travel trade and consumer travel media, and travel agents around the world.

AHA’s focus on raising awareness of Tourism New Zealand as a long-haul destination has garnered solid results over the past seven years. AHA has generated positive media coverage in national, regional, local and community media, and has connected directly online with the general public, travel agents and wholesalers.

Below are examples of Flip-style video blog posts we did for the time-limited blog.

Stakeholder Brand Journalism

In the fall of 2010, the British Columbia Provincial Government proclaimed the 2010-2011 school year the Year of Science in B.C. This initiative was to raise awareness among B.C. families, particularly young people, about the many exciting and rewarding careers in science related fields.

Vancouver Community College (VCC) created a series of events as a part of the Year of Science. The first event had VCC hosting astronaut Cmdr. John Herrington – the first Native American in space – for two special presentations to primary and high school students, and to the public.

We were asked to work with the VCC team to develop a strategic outreach and PR campaign for this event (as well as subsequent Year of Science events).

The AHA Brand Journalism Team developed a strategic brand journalism/PR outline that included:

  • A promotional awareness-building event where free Tang was given out to students, encouraging them to come to the event.
  • An event notice/photo opportunity notice for media – encouraging them to cover the event.
  • Targeted pitches to identified key media – providing the opportunity for interviews prior to the event. (As Cmdr. Herrington’s time was limited, this opportunity was only offered to two television shows.) We secured an appearance for Cmdr. Herrington on Global Television’s Morning News – Vancouver’s most watched news station.
  • Opportunities for media to interview Cmdr. John Herrington at VCC after his presentations. (Media that interviewed Cmdr. Herrington at VCC included: News1130 radio, Metro, Ming Pao and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. The Vancouver Province ran a piece after the event, from the photo release and video news release.)
  • A photo release with images of Cmdr. John Herrington speaking and posing with students.
  • A video news release with interviews with Cmdr. Herrington, VCC President Kathy Kinloch, several students and members of the public – for media, for use on the Year of Science website and via the VCC website to the general public. (This video was edited and produced within two hours of the presentations for distribution to media and was showcased that evening to VCC’s Board of Governors who were meeting. The video was also provided to the Provincial Government to showcase VCC’s involvement in the Year of Science.)
  • A stand-alone interview with Cmdr. Herrington was provided to the Provincial Government and put on the VCC website.
  • A video of the highlights of Cmdr. Herrington’s presentation was provided to the Provincial Government and put on the VCC website.

Consumer Brand Journalism

Each year, in November, Richmond Centre creates a magical winter wonderland. Located in Richmond, B.C., Richmond Centre has focused their holiday season marketing efforts on the Santa at Richmond Centre interactive experience. The objective is to create an in-mall experience for visitors to the shopping centre.

When we were asked to develop a strategic PR campaign for Santa at Richmond Centre, we recommended a brand journalism approach.

The AHA Brand Journalism Team developed a strategic brand journalism/PR outline that included:

  • Opportunities for media to interview the “real” Santa. (This component of the process was so successful that one journalist from an ethnic publication, who was reasonably new to Canada, didn’t understand that the “real” Santa approach was a marketing initiative and was struggling to understand the concept – a reality in her mind – of Santa Claus.)
  • A photo release.
  • A video news release for media and via the Richmond Centre website to the general public.
  • An internal video that highlighted the benefits of the experiential campaign to retailers in the mall for the mall’s senior executive.
  • A short 30-second general video for Facebook and other social media networks.

Our efforts over the six-week brand journalism/media relations campaign resulted in strong editorial coverage, a substantial increase in visitors to the mall’s website, a positive reaction from the mall’s senior executive team and from retailers in the mall, as well as an increase in sales in the mall (when other malls in the area experienced a decline due to the global economic downturn).

The video crew often find themselves in unusual circumstances in search of a great story. Their trip to film orangutan expert Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas with her beloved organutans in the wild in Indonesia was one of those times. Dr. Galdikas’ life work is focused on saving the gentle creatures from extinction. After getting an assignment from Global Television’s 16X9: The Bigger Picture, they headed to the doctor’s orangutan care centre and quarantine in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. During their week-long stay in the jungle (and we do mean jungle), they documented the efforts by Dr. Galdikas and others to save this remarkable primate species. The magazine-style news story ran for over eight minutes on the national network. Making the most of their time in the jungle, the team also used the footage and interviews to create a compelling short video for Orangutan Foundation International.

When FROGBOX wanted to showcase how simple and straightforward it is for customers to use their reusable moving boxes, they connected with the video crew to create a short commercial for their website. The video showcased the ease of the process for ordering and delivering the environmentally friendly moving boxes. During this period, the FROGBOX team delivered a successful investment pitch to financial backers on the CBC show Dragon’s Den, which drove people to their website, where the video provided a quick snapshot of why to use FROGBOX for your next move.