June 2010

I love this article in businessweek.com. It talks about effective and successful professionals who aren’t stuck in an office all the time. They do their work in interesting, inspiring and relaxing locations – like the beach.

Remember the days when you were in school and the teacher surprised you by saying that you were going to sit outside for the class. Looking back, I realize how innovative that was. It gave us the chance to enjoy the good weather, it engaged our minds outside of the expected classroom environment, it changed things up so that we learned how to adapt, and it gave us the opportunity to enjoy something different.

At AHA, we have a business development office in Vancouver, a presence in Calgary and Toronto and our head office is on the Sunshine Coast. It is a studio on half an acre of land in Gibsons, B.C. – one of, we think, the most beautiful places in the world. We’re a small agency and our crew is a team of incredibly talented and smart people that are, for the most part, contractors that we have worked with for years and years. It’s a different kind of business model and one that works well for us and for the contractors.

AHA turned seven earlier this year. When we first opened the AHA doors, we knew that as a Vancouver PR agency we were up against some stiff competition. We worried that we would appear too small for some clients. We worked hard at showcasing that we provide the services, skill set and abilities of a larger agency with special attention to client service. We still focus on communicating that to potential clients. We’ve been fortunate, some high profile clients have come onboard with AHA and we greatly appreciate that they chose us as their PR agency.

We’re a different kind of PR agency and that means we’re not for everyone. That’s ok with us – we’re good with who we are and love the clients who “get” us. I think that one of the things we’re good at is wiping away at the traditional stereotypes of business. That’s good for the people that work with AHA, I know it’s good for Paul and myself, and it benefits our clients.

For example, I am currently in the process of developing several strategic communications plans for clients. One is for government, one is for an educational institution and another is for a not-for-profit. They are very different. For each, I need to completely immerse myself in their world and understand not only what needs to be done, but how that can be done within the context of their individual realities. I need to do my best thinking and my best writing. Where and how will I accomplish this?

At the AHA office, we have an incredible back deck where the sun shines all afternoon, birds sing and our mutts play. I move myself to the back deck to work whenever I can. Never once has a client said: “I don’t want you doing our work in an environment that inspires you and brings out your best work.” Yet, when I tell people where I work or – when I am in a playful mood and tweet about it or put it on Facebook – I sometimes get responses that are surprising. “Must be nice to slack off.” “Wow, wish I could open my own business so I could sit on a deck in the sun in the afternoon.” “Too bad you don’t work for a living.” And so on. Enjoying your work environment doesn’t mean you aren’t being effective. It’s an interesting phenomenon – the one where we believe you have to be in an office to be working.

As I write this, the sun is shining, our dogs are out on the deck and after a few conference call meetings this morning, you can bet I am going to be out there too. And I predict that I will be more productive and get more accomplished because I get to change things up and work in an environment that inspires me.

How about you – do you have the opportunity to take advantage of a different kind of work environment?

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There was an interesting article in The Vancouver Sun last week (it also ran in the National Post, Montreal Gazette and several other daily newspapers) that says that PR is more vital than ever for businesses. Especially in the age of social media.

We knew that. We’ve known it for what seems like forever. This is a great time for communicators (aka PR people). An open, two-way conversation that is based on an organization living up to its promises and aligning to its values is what ethical PR people have been working towards for decades. For organizations with integrity and for organizations that want to improve, this is a great time to be in business. Your stakeholders and customers are ready to tell you what they want from you and how they feel. You just need to listen and want to authentically connect with them.

There is huge opportunity here for product development, customer research, and for connecting and partnering with your target market in a way that benefits everyone involved. And if something goes wrong, you can quickly identify the problem, address it and ensure that the people who have issue with your organization or product realize that you are engaged, care and are doing the right things.

Of course, for an organization that has something to hide, where the values are not aligned with the operation of the company and where they think they can “hide” or “spin” their way out of an issue – good luck. That mindset went out with Enron.

For reputation management and for proactive, positive PR for your organization you need a team that can develop a strategy, write a plan and execute using both traditional PR and social media tools.

If you want some assistance or support in this area, why not send us a quick email at info@ahacreative.com. We’d love to have a conversation!

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Regular readers of this blog know that we’re big fans of Brian Solis. He is someone for whom we have a huge amount of admiration and respect. He has an in-depth knowledge of social media, understands the human side of it, as well as the business application.

He has an excellent blog post today: The Last Mile: The Socialization of Business. It is most definitely worth a read. In fact, if you only read one thing today (besides the AHA blog), read this post!

We are currently in the process of working with several clients to develop their communications strategy and this blog post will be of great value to these teams. One of the biggest challenges that organizations face when it comes to integrating social media into their overall communications plan is making the shift from pushing out information to engaging in the conversation and understanding that the channels of communication are – at the very least – two way.

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Vancouver, B.C. – Rhino Marketing Inc., one of North America’s leading online marketing agencies, has appointed George Morneau as the company’s Professional Sports Liaison. This position has been established to help support Rhino Marketing’s philanthropic and charitable outreach both locally and globally. In this new role, Mr. Morneau will connect with a range of professional athletes and sports teams to acquire sports memorabilia such as autographed photos, jerseys and other items that will be used for fundraising and awareness campaigns for charities and not-for-profit organizations that Rhino Marketing supports.

Rhino Marketing is focused on creating long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between their organization and professional athletes and sports teams with a focus on charitable fundraising and other philanthropic objectives.

“George was a natural choice for this role because of the relationships in a range of professional sports that he has spent decades establishing and maintaining,” said Doug Morneau, Chief Rhino. “That he is my uncle and the father of Justin Morneau, considered one of the best first basemen in the major leagues, is just an added bonus. This new role supports our community relations department.”

Founded in 1997, Rhino Marketing Inc. is a leading Internet marketing services agency. With offices in Canada and the United States, Rhino Marketing Inc. offers clients a single source for the design, execution and ongoing advancement of Internet marketing initiatives. The Rhino Marketing team operates at the intersection of traditional strategy-based marketing and the rapidly evolving digital world of e-marketing, providing clients with a strategic, integrated approach that creates strong results. An active member of its community, Rhino Marketing is involved in a range of charitable and philanthropic organizations, events and initiatives. As Rhino grows and expands as a company, so does their commitment to making the world a better place, locally and globally. For more information, please visit www.rhino.ca.

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For more information or an interview with Doug Morneau, please contact Paul Holman at paul@ahacreative.com or at 604.303.1052.

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