September 2013

AHA works with clients in a range of sectors – consumer goods, technology, post-secondary education, health care, fitness, law and the judiciary, fashion, not-for-profit, insurance and, of course, travel. We provide a range of services for our clients including promotional public relations, community relations (including social media), strategic communications planning, writing and editing services, messaging and positioning, crisis and communication planning, and issues communication management.

We have extensive travel PR experience and a strong skill set in this area. Our clients range from tourism boards to hotels to airlines to tour operators and local activities. We have spent a decade building positive relationships with traditional and online journalists, bloggers and editorial content creators. AHA works in the world of travel because we love it, we’re really good at it, and we continue to grow and evolve our skill set in this ever-changing world.

Recently, we decided to put a little more focus on travel PR. Believe me, that doesn’t mean that our non-travel clients will get any less attention. Each one of our clients knows how important they are to us – and how dedicated we are to providing world-class client service and generating exceptional results. What it does mean is that we are going to get a little more proactive in the area of travel business development. We’re a little spoiled here. We have been incredibly fortunate that colleagues, clients, former clients and professional acquaintances recommend us and refer new clients to us – and that has kept us pretty busy. However, we have a kick-ass crew across the country and it’s time to reach out and connect with some great potential clients.

As a part of the launch of our increased focus in the area of travel, we worked the fabulously talented, incredibly professional, and delightful to work with Tanya Gadsby of Drawing Out Ideas to produce a short graphic recording video that highlights the benefits of working with AHA for your travel PR. We hope you like it!


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p&r egyptHere at AHA, we work with clients in a range of sectors – government, not-for-profit and private. We have clients around the world, in the U.S. and, of course, in Canada. One of the perks of working here is that we do get to travel a little and see the world. We are set to visit a client in South Africa in December, so I have been doing some online research about activities and events that will be happening when we are there. Finding information that specifically interests me for travel has never been easier – TripAdvisor is of huge value. So are Facebook and Twitter. You ask your community – the people you know and trust – for recommendations.

On TripAdvisor, there is an opportunity for the travel professional (tour operator, hotel manager, etc.) to respond to each review. I am always impressed by the travel professionals who respond to both the positive and negative reviews. In fact, if I am travelling to a place I have never been to before – for work or pleasure – it is the review that has a response that gets my attention and, usually, my business. I have seen hotel managers apologize for something that went wrong that was their responsibility and I have seen them respectfully take on a reviewer who perhaps wasn’t sharing the whole story. It impresses me when a service provider responds and when they take responsibility publicly for something that went wrong; it tells me that customer service matters to them. Things are going to go wrong; I just want someone who cares enough to make them right.

TripAdvisor isn’t perfect – not all reviews are necessarily authentic. Sometimes tour operators or hotel managers have staff or friends write positive reviews for them and negative ones for competitors. Let’s face it, there are also people out there who just don’t like anything and who always write negative reviews. It’s important to take these reviews in context. However, it does provide a great opportunity for both travellers and for the travel and tourism world. And it’s a great example of how the world of public relations has changed – and not just in travel and tourism, but in every industry sector.

People – consumers, clients, influencers, investors, government, media, etc. – are all online and talking. They are likely online somewhere discussing your organization or industry right now. Do you know where they are? Do you know who they are? Do you know where you can engage in the conversation (if it is strategic for you to do so)? Are you paying attention to what they are saying?

What is your website like – is it easy to navigate? Is the information up-to-date and relevant to your stakeholder group? Is it engaging and interesting?

These are important questions. Your stakeholders are online looking for information about your organization and if your website isn’t up-to-date, you may be responsible for any misinformation they have. If they are discussing you and – at the very least – you aren’t aware of what the hot button topics are and what they are interested in, you are not only missing out on an opportunity to engage and build positive relationships, but there may also be an issue emerging that you don’t know about and that could be damaging to your organizational reputation.

If you aren’t a part of the conversation, it could hurt you.

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Our summer intern, Christian Varty, took on the job of delivering a random act of kindness for September (although he delivered it in August since he headed back to school a few days ago). His random act of kindness report is below. – Ruth


popcornOne of the benefits of doing good things is how it can inspire others and create more good things. This is what happened to me when I said I would deliver an AHA Random Act of Kindness.

Every year, our local Marketplace IGA hosts a family outdoor movie event. They project a movie and have snacks for sale. This year, the movie had to be postponed due to dodgy weather. This meant that in the back room of the store, we had giant 10lb bags of popcorn. I was asked if I wanted to buy one of these bags for $10. Of course I said yes – who wouldn’t want that much popcorn? It wasn’t until later on that I got the idea of buying more popcorn, bagging it and giving it away to people passing by.

I asked the store owner if I would be able to do this – paying for the popcorn with the money provided by AHA. Not only did he let me set up a table in front of the store to give away the popcorn, but he also said that we could have it for free instead of paying for it.

This meant that I was able to deliver on my AHA Random Act of Kindness and I was also able to donate the money I would have used to pay for the popcorn to Kid Sport. Double good deed!

I arrived at around 9:30 a.m. and set up a folding table outside. My friend (who gladly accepted my request to join me) and I slapped on our black latex gloves and started packing bags of popcorn. Of course, we picked the windiest day of the week to do this – and our popcorn bags kept falling over and blowing around so that we had to chase them! Eventually, we got the idea of putting the bags into a box to avoid the wind.

It was slow at first; our “FREE Popcorn” sign didn’t draw too much attention. Finally, people came over, asking what we were doing and why. We tried to explain it as best we could, but some people just didn’t understand our mission. Many people wanted to give us money, which we refused. We stayed all day – until 4 o’clock – and shared around 20lbs of popcorn with people. It was a great day!

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