November 2009

I have to admit, when I heard about the accident over U.S. Thanksgiving weekend involving Tiger Woods, I thought “hmmmm.” There seemed to be something missing from the story when I first heard it – what was Tiger doing leaving his house at 2:30 am on Thanksgiving, distracted enough to hit a fire hydrant and a tree?

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Chris Brogan has an excellent post on the point that social media needs to be a team sport. In it he focuses on social media and the need for a team approach, but I think that it is worth applying that approach to communications as a whole.

Connecting with your stakeholders, with your public – with your community works best when it is approached holistically. You can have a great PR strategy and not be able to execute on the plan if there isn’t a connection between what you want to share, how you want to start and maintain the conversation and where the content comes from.

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I had the opportunity recently to co-facilitate a three-day planning session with Della Smith (who I am proud to call my colleague, mentor and friend). The participants for this session were a diverse group of smart professionals who sit on council as well as the organization’s senior staff.

One of the components of the session was a short overview on social media that Della and I presented to the group. It was very interesting. This is a field that hasn’t really embraced social media as much as some others and I have to admit I had some concerns about whether or not they would find it of interest.

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Tourism NZFor Immediate Release – November 11, 2009

SANTA MONICA, CA – For the second year running, New Zealand has taken the top spot at the prestigious Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards.

Whale Watch Kaikoura was named as overall winner at the awards, announced Tuesday at the 30th anniversary of the World Travel Market, held annually in London. They also won the marine environment category.

YHA Wellington City was also announced as winner of the best large hotel/accommodation category.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton is thrilled by their victories. “This is a fantastic achievement for Whale Watch Kaikoura, YHA Wellington City and for New Zealand,” says Hickton. “For New Zealand operators to have featured in the Responsible Travel Awards again this year shows our industry’s strong commitment to the environment and local communities.”

The panel of judges declared Whale Watch Kaikoura the overall winner for developing a tourism initiative from the ground up. The awards are nominated by tourists and recognize individuals, companies and organizations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the culture and economies of local communities and are providing a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation.

The judging process includes analysis from a panel of 13 judges including interviews and consultation from an international network of contacts and organizations with responsible tourism expertise and knowledge in specific destinations.

Justin Francis, founder of The Responsible Tourism Awards and managing director of award organizers, says despite the recession the nominations were impressive. “In this, the sixth year of the Awards, organizations continue to come up with innovative ideas around responsible tourism that ensure local communities and environments benefit from tourism as much as possible. The money may have dried out a little in the past year but the passion, ingenuity and creativity certainly hasn’t,” he said.

Founded by the Awards are run in association with headline sponsor, Virgin Holidays and partners World Travel Market, The Daily Telegraph and Geographical Magazine.


For information about New Zealand’s extensive vacation options, log onto the 100% Pure New Zealand website at:

For other media information, log on to

For high-resolution images, visit

For year-round travel deals to New Zealand, visit:—canada.cfm

Contact: Ruth Atherley
AHA Creative Strategies
Ph: (604) 303-1052

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RC imageFor Immediate Release – November 11, 2009

Richmond, B.C. & North Pole – The real Santa, accompanied by Mrs. Claus and 38 of his top elves, will spend six weeks at Richmond Centre starting November 13, announced North Pole spokesperson and Senior Elf, VP Communications Reginald Rufus.

According to Rufus, Santa will arrive at the mall on Friday, November 13 at 7 p.m. in a GM zero-emission, Fuel Cell Chevrolet Equinox and will then lead Mrs. Claus, his merry band of elves and anyone who wants to believe in the magic of Christmas on a parade through Richmond Centre. He will commute back and forth to the North Pole, as necessary, as he prepares for one of the most exciting nights of the year for the jolly old man (Christmas, in case you forgot!).

“Santa chose Richmond Centre as his home base to visit with children this year because of the multicultural demographics in the city and how the people of Richmond would help him spread the spirit of Christmas around the world,” said Rufus via satellite from the North Pole. He added: “Santa is looking forward to seeing the children of Richmond this year and he knows that there are many people in Richmond that might be grown up, but are still children at heart.”

“We are thrilled that Santa chose Richmond again this year,” said Leslie Matheson, Director of Marketing, Richmond Centre. “Christmas is a magical time of year and having Father Christmas at Richmond Centre has everyone here very excited. The world is a very big place and that Santa has chosen to spend the six weeks just before Christmas here, is quite an honour for us.”

Throughout Santa’s visit, there will be many activities at Richmond Centre. They include:

  • Visits and Photos with Santa
  • Daily Elf Inspections
  • School of Christmas – classroom and theatre sessions
  • Santa Live! (Streaming live video of the child’s visit with Santa.)

Santa, Mrs. Claus and all 38 elves have their own trading card that they will hand out to courteous little boys and girls (and grown-ups), when asked politely. Santa’s card is a magical trading card that creates a 3D image of old Saint Nick, when it is held up to a web cam. Santa 3.0, is what he’s calling it.

Said Matheson: “Santa at Richmond Centre is an interactive experience. There is something to do for everyone – young and old alike. The spirit of the season, goodwill towards others, and kindness and joy will come to life here at Richmond Centre when Santa arrives. We’re hoping that not only will everyone who comes to see Santa embrace that, but that they will carry a little piece of it with them all year ‘round.”

Richmond Centre is one of the Lower Mainland’s largest shopping complexes with 240 stores and services. Located in the centre of Richmond, on the corner of Westminster Hwy and Minoru Boulevard, Richmond Centre is owned and managed by two of the largest developers in Canada, Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd. and Ivanhoe Cambridge II Inc.


For further information, interviews with Santa or media access, please contact: Paul Holman of AHA Creative Strategies at or by phone at 604-303-1052.

Please note: The PR team does not have any influence over Santa. If you haven’t been good, there is not much we can do about it – except advise you to start now!

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