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 Post, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, CTV’s Canada AM, CTV’s eTalk, Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, CAA Magazine, TheLoop.ca, and several trade publications have visited New Zealand as participants in this program over the past five 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 Canoe.ca (1.9 million unique visitors per month), CanadaFreePress.com (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), TorontoSun.com (1.1 million unique visitors per month) and ReadersDigest.ca (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 (since AHA was awarded the contract). 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.