2010

It seems like a long time since I wrote an AHA blog post. We’re back in the office preparing for the new year. It’s been an exciting year for us here at AHA and we’re looking forward to 2011.

One of the topics of conversation that we’ve been having at our Vancouver PR agency revolves around exceptional customer, client or stakeholder service. For us, exceptional service is a priority. How we work with our clients, our AHA Crew, our suppliers and others is important and our focus on this area is reflected in the success of our work with clients and the overall success of AHA.

I have two other examples of exceptional service to share today – one is personal, the other doesn’t touch us directly, but is a great example of someone who clearly cares about what they do.

The first example is about Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Mayor Booker has been out and about – hands on dealing with some of the insane weather that the North East is dealing with. And he’s been tweeting about it, responding directly to constituents. He’s used humour, empathy, understanding and he has really connected with the people who are being hit with the extreme weather. Wired.com has a great piece on it that’s worth a read.

My next example is one that is personal. For many of you who interact with us at AHA, you know that Paul and I took some time off in December for a vacation. We started off in Barcelona, took a Mediterranean Cruise and then returned to Barcelona.

We had never been to Barcelona before so I had done some research online into hotels there. The Hotel Barcelona Universal stood out because the manager, Pablo Perez, was active online. If a guest had a complaint on TripAdvisor.com, Pablo responded – either to clarify, apologize or set the record straight. The fact is, no hospitality or tourism provider can ever please every person every time and sometimes, things happen and stuff goes wrong. I found that Pablo’s hands on approach gave me a great deal of confidence in the hotel and the service that we would receive there, so we booked three nights (one pre-cruise and two post).

Now, three nights in a hotel isn’t a big deal. We could have been treated to the basic service – get us in, get us out – but that’s not how Pablo or the Hotel Barcelona Universal works. I emailed Pablo to tell him that I appreciated his proactive approach and to ask about recommendations for restaurants. What I got back was amazing. Pablo went out of his way to tell us about events and activities that we might be interested in Barcelona. He recommended great restaurants and helped us get reservations. He explained what would be going on around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there. He went out of his way to make us feel welcome and comfortable in Barcelona. Before we even landed, it felt like we had a friend there.

Pablo wasn’t at the hotel when we arrived, so we actually didn’t get to meet him until December 24 – almost two weeks later. However, the service at the Hotel Barcelona Universal was exceptional. Everyone at the hotel went the extra mile to help us, whether that was bringing our luggage (a lot of it!) from the taxi to our room, hailing a cab, calling to let the restaurant know we would be a little late for our reservation or giving us directions for the Metro. We were treated like we were the most important guests at the hotel. As I sat in the lobby and watched (as PR people are prone to do), I noticed that every guest was given the same respect, consideration and service.

How Pablo and the team at Hotel Barcelona Universal treated us made our vacation so much better. It made Barcelona feel like home; it created a positive impact that really impressed us. Throughout this hotel, people went out of their way to provide us with an exceptional experience. It was a highlight of our trip. I will tell anyone going to Barcelona that this is where they should stay. This is public relations at its finest, and is a great example of exceptional customer service.

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I am thrilled to announce that Laurie Hanley has joined the AHA Creative Strategies team.

It’s always exciting when we add a new crew member to AHA. As a virtual agency, we have some of the best and brightest on board with our Vancouver PR agency. They are contractors that we have had long–term relationships with, relationships that allow us to provide world-class excellence for our clients.

I have known Laurie for more than a decade. When I first met her, I was Director of Communications and Laurie was an acting student at Vancouver Film School. Laurie really stood out to me. She understood the value of publicity and reputation management for an actor and she understood the “business side” of the art of acting. We kept in touch over the years (thanks Facebook!) and when an opportunity came up, it was natural for AHA to see if Laurie wanted to work with us as a PR Coordinator.

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Laurie is our early bird. She is four hours ahead of us and even when we’re in the office at the crack of dawn, she’s already been up and done lots!

Check out Laurie’s bio here. We’re excited at having Laurie as a part of our crew!

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There is a great article on Inc.com that focuses on writing a social media release. It has some great points in it and it’s worth a read.

We don’t recommend social media releases for all clients or every project, but there are times when it provides added value. It’s important to think about a social media release strategically. Don’t let your excitement in doing something that has some “cool” elements push you to develop one when you don’t need to. And, on the other side, make sure you focus on the message that you want to put forward and don’t get caught up in the technology and what can be done. Do what should be done.

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