May 2011

At AHA, we work on a range of communication or public relations initiatives with clients. No matter what the campaign, project or idea, it is always tied to measurement and results – business results.

Connecting communication or public relations initiatives to business results doesn’t always directly mean sales or revenue. It can also be raising awareness of an organization or campaign. It can mean informing and educating a specific stakeholder group or creating an action or response. It can mean building loyalty. Or it can mean driving sales. It is important when building the strategy for the initiative that you clearly identify what your objectives are, what results you want to achieve, and how you will measure success.

We recently worked with a client to develop an internal communications initiative that was created with the objective of building staff morale. This organization has gone through a great deal of change over the past 24 months under the leadership of a new, proactive president. There have been many successes that have been overshadowed by an organizational restructuring and a strategic planning process that uncovered some challenges and the need to evolve and change some business practices and processes. We wanted to focus on what has been accomplished, to spotlight some of the staff members who have stepped up and gone the extra mile to make things happen, who have shown leadership and who have supported colleagues during this transition period. I am happy to share the tactics we used with you, if you are interested. Just send me an email. But, in order to keep this blog post a reasonable length, I will skip to how we are going to tie this initiative back to business results.

Our first measurement focus will be on participation – how many staff members actively participate by attending specific events or visiting the website page, where this information will be showcased. Next will be to reach out and ask for feedback on the campaign from staff members. And, over a longer period of time (this campaign is set to run for 9 to 12 months), we will monitor changes in attitude and approach. (Are more staff members actively participating in organizational initiatives? Has engagement in town hall meetings increased?) Some of the measurement will be softer (attitude), others will have harder statistics to review. On a monthly basis, we will be reviewing how this campaign positively impacts this organization’s business – which, in this case, is the morale of staff. Without great staff who care about their work, you don’t really have much.

I came across an interesting article on that talks about how to connect communications initiatives to business results. It’s worth a read.

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SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 24, 2011 – The most successful kiwi bird breeding season in the history of New Zealand’s national wildlife center has ended on an extraordinary note with the surprise hatching of an all-white kiwi bird chick.

Named “Manukura” by local native iwi Rangitane o Wairarapa, the chick, whose name appropriately means “of chiefly status,” is not an albino kiwi, but the rare progeny of kiwi bird that were transferred to Pukaha from Hauturu/Little Barrier Island last year.
The chick was the thirteenth of fourteen kiwis successfully hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce this breeding season, by far the most successful since 2003 when the kiwi were reintroduced into the wild there.

The white chick will remain in captivity with other chicks at Pukaha for at least four to six months where, subject to its behavior and welfare, it will be able to be viewed several times a week while being weighed. When it is old enough to protect itself, it could potentially be released into the sanctuary. However, Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers, who manage the kiwi program at Pukaha, will ensure the best interests of the bird remain a top priority.

“A white kiwi might really stand out making it more vulnerable,” said DOC area manager Chris Lester. “We want to ensure that as many people as possible get a chance to see it and that we keep it as safe as possible. We also recognize the need to take everything into account when deciding how best to keep Manukura safe.”


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For more information, please contact Paul Holman of AHA Creative Strategies at or 604.303.1052.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane from AHA Creative on Vimeo.

In today’s video, Ruth talks about AHA’s social media campaign in New Zealand called TRENZblog. (Our apologies on the delay of this upload. We didn’t have enough time to upload the video on Friday at the airport and have been having Internet issues in New Zealand.)

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AHA Creative Strategies is the PR agency of record for Tourism New Zealand (TNZ).  As many of our regular blog readers know, TNZ is one of our favourite clients and not just because they are fun and hilarious people. The North American team at TNZ (based in Los Angeles) works with AHA in a partnership and that approach creates positive results. We have had some of Canada’s best travel writers visit New Zealand as a part of the International Media Program and have worked with them to see coverage generated in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, AOL Canada,,,,, and the list goes on and on.

Paul and I will be heading to New Zealand on Friday to produce TRENZblog is a social media campaign that is a great example of identifying and targeting a specific audience in a defined time frame.

When we started TRENZblog in 2009, social media was starting to become prevalent. It wasn’t where it is today, however. As an organization, TNZ saw the value in investing in this social media campaign as a pilot project. Since then, the world has become more and more active on social media networking sites and online in general and TRENZblog has benefited from that. TRENZblog was initially created to connect with travel media (both trade and consumer) and travel industry professionals (travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers, etc.) who might not be able to travel to New Zealand for TRENZ, New Zealand’s largest travel trade show. While this is the largest audience for TRENZblog, we have found as we have gone along that quite a few travellers – people that don’t work in the travel industry, but are interested in travelling to New Zealand – began to follow TRENZblog. This secondary audience is also an important group for us – the traveller interested in New Zealand.

AHA - Zorb ImageWe are now entering our 3rd year of TRENZblog. Each year, we have seen strong growth – up to 30% in audience figures. I think for this specific campaign, there were several key factors that provided a foundation for this success. They are:

  • TNZ saw this as a pilot project – they (and we) were open to taking a risk and to experimenting and seeing what worked and what didn’t. It was an opportunity to learn, along with our stakeholder group, as we all moved more deeply into the use of social media and online tools.
  • This campaign had a clearly identified community that it was targeting. Our blog readership and Twitter followers are solid – in context of the target market we want to connect with. We don’t have a million followers – but we have a strong following of travel media and travel professionals along with some non-travel professionals who are interested specifically in New Zealand as a travel destination. This campaign targets an audience that has it’s own audience. For every one person we have that follows us, they may have their community of 100, 500 or 25,000 people. So if we tell them about New Zealand and they tell others, the reach builds.
  • The campaign was given enough time (now three years) to build a community and to create momentum. Social media engagement takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen over night.
  • This campaign was also given a specific life span – we start a week before TRENZ (May 22-25, 2011) and we end about a week after. TRENZblog and @TRENZblog on Twitter, with few exceptions, is quiet for the rest of the year. Our community knows that – it’s a little like we’re a friend that visits via social media once a year. We are always welcomed back – and we’re always sad to say goodbye!

For the week prior to TRENZ, Paul and I will travel on New Zealand’s North Island and experience some of the fabulous tourism products offered – from wine tours on a bike, to cruising Lake Taupo, to golfing, to experiencing authentic Maori culture. Then we head to Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, where we will ZipTrek, tour Milford Sound, check out more wineries (I know, it’s a tough job!) and even skydive!

Then we report live from TRENZ on all the news from New Zealand’s tourism sector. We’ll interview tourism operators (and are happy to interview specific operators on request!). We’ll be tweeting live, almost live-blogging and providing all kinds of photos and video clips. If you can’t be in New Zealand for TRENZ, this is the next best thing to being there!

Our blogs for the next two weeks will focus on this campaign – we want to showcase a real, live campaign – it’s challenges and successes – so that our blog readers who are interested can get a real sense of what can be done, when you do it right!

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