Communications

For Immediate Release                                                                                

February 16, 2016 

AHA Creative Strategies taps media icon

Charlotte Empey as Toronto Bureau Chief

Gibsons, B.C. – Charlotte Empey, former Editor-in-Chief of Metro English Canada newspapers and Canadian Living magazine, has accepted the role of Toronto Bureau Chief for AHA Creative Strategies, AHA CEO Ruth Atherley announced today. Along with heading up the Toronto office, Ms. Empey will also work closely with the AHA team to expand the agency’s brand journalism and branded content services. She will do this through a strategic partnership between her company, FYI Media and AHA Creative Strategies.

“Charlotte is an incredible visionary and editor-in-chief, not to mention one of the most generous, supportive and encouraging leaders. She is a true icon in the world of journalism,” said Atherley. “When we heard that she had shifted into communications consulting with her company FYI Media, we knew we wanted to partner with her in the areas of brand journalism and branded content.” She added: “In this day and age, when newsrooms are shrinking and media outlets are laying off reporters, editors and producers, more and more organizations have to tell their own stories. Who better to help them tell these stories than one of the country’s best journalists. We are beyond delighted that Charlotte has agreed to take on the role of AHA Bureau Chief and to partner with us in helping organizations to effectively tell their stories to their stakeholder groups and communities.”

Said Empey: “I have worked with Ruth since she was a young writer, pitching stories and writing for me at many of my publications. I know her attitude, approach, work ethic and integrity and I have watched her grow into a seasoned, experienced communications professional who understands the changing media landscape and how to effectively tell her clients’ stories in that environment. When she approached me with the idea of heading up the AHA Toronto office and taking on the role of Bureau Chief, she definitely caught my attention.” She explained: “There is a growing demand from organizations for well-written and well-produced content that effectively tells their story in an engaging and authentic manner. We are here to meet these needs and to tell some great stories that engage, inform and entertain. I am thrilled to work with Ruth again and to partner with the AHA team.”

About FYI Media

Charlotte Empey, Principal at FYI Media, partners with her clients – editorial, corporate and not-for-profit – to create powerful narratives that inspire, move and motivate. She helps her clients to define communications goals and objectives, and to identify the audience psychographic – key to understanding who they are and what kinds of stories will move them most. Then she develops a strategic plan and manages a team of cross-platform professionals to create stories that cut through the clutter and capture hearts, minds and the collective imagination.

About AHA Creative Strategies

Founded in 2003, AHA Creative Strategies Inc. is a boutique communications firm with clients in Canada, the United States and New Zealand. The AHA team has developed, executed and managed strategic communications, brand journalism, PR, social media and community engagement campaigns and projects for clients locally, nationally, in the U.S. and internationally. AHA regularly works with clients to help manage a wide range of emerging issues, challenges and crisis communication initiatives in traditional media outlets, online and on social media networks.

 

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dreamstime_xs_50255076Super Bowl ads are highly anticipated and costly. It is estimated that just buying the time slot for a 30-second spot for Super Bowl 50 would have set you back around $5 million U.S. And then there are production costs, which are estimated to be up to $10 million U.S., depending on the commercial.

The halftime show is another big element. This year, Coldplay was listed as the headliner, and then Beyoncé and Bruno Mars were added to the playlist – all high-profile entertainers with huge followings.

The reactions on social media to the ads and the halftime show are a perfect example of how the world communicates and how reactions have changed. Some people absolutely loved a specific commercial and others really hated it. They shared their opinions all over social media, which were then picked up, retweeted or shared by others – including traditional media.

Some loved the halftime show; others slammed the performance and Beyoncé specifically – saying it was an attack on police officers. And that was also shared and retweeted – creating a pretty heated discussion about what she was trying to communicate.

Anyone with an opinion – whether you think that opinion is right or wrong – can speak out on social media. And, while Super Bowl 50 was a huge event and your organization might not have that kind of following, it is important for any organization to realize that someone, somewhere might not like what you are doing – and someone, somewhere else might love it. And they might be sharing all of this all over the Internet.

Opinions like the ones being shouted out on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites on Sunday night used to be contained amongst the person’s friends and family – or perhaps those sitting next to them at the local pub. But now those opinions can find a global audience – and depending on how you respond or don’t respond, this can impact your brand.

The AHA Moment

It’s important to: a) know what is being said about your organization; and b) be prepared for both positive or negative conversations. The positive comments are of huge value and acknowledging them can help you build strong relationships with influencers and potential brand ambassadors. The negative comments are equally important – especially if the discussion goes beyond opinion and the information being shared is inaccurate, misleading or an attack. Depending on the circumstances, responding isn’t always strategic, but you need to know what is being said before making that decision.

It’s important to know what conversations are being held that either talk about your organization or brand, or that impact your industry – and it’s crucial that you understand how to respond effectively.

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Seahawks footballMillions of fans watched in dismay as the defending Super Bowl champions – the Seattle Seahawks – lost to the New England Patriots in the final 30 seconds of the game yesterday. According to those in the know, making the call to throw the ball (which had been intercepted) rather than passing it, was the reason for this devastating loss.

With the exception of a little bit of a scuffle on the field right before the Patriots won, the Seahawks team has taken the high road in their discussion of the loss. In interviews, head coach, Pete Carroll, and quarterback, Russell Wilson, clearly showed the integrity and class of this organization. They recognized the abilities of the other team and they acknowledged that it was a great game. When asked about the decision to throw instead of run the ball, Carroll said: “That’s my fault, totally.” The coach took responsibility rather than throwing his offensive coordinator under the bus. It’s no wonder their fans, called the 12th Man, are so loyal.

Seahawks fans also seemed to take the high road. I have a colleague who is a Facebook friend. He is pretty outspoken at times and he was having some fun on the social network site as the game progressed, talking it up about how the Seahawks were going to trounce the Patriots. When they lost, I worried a little that Facebook was going to turn into a nasty battleground, but Seahawks fans didn’t go there. In fact, my Facebook friend – like many Seattle fans I saw on social media – congratulated the Patriots and their fans for a game well played, while still putting forward their admiration for the Seahawks team and organization, and re-affirming their loyalty to their team.

The Seattle Seahawks have a strong brand. Their brand promise appears to be “doing our best on and off the field.” That’s a pretty big brand promise, if you ask me. But talk to any Seahawks fan and they will tell you how great the people are who play for this team and who work for the organization. They are engaged in the Seattle community, do more than is expected in the area of charities and volunteering, and they always take the high road – even during high stress and incredibly disappointing moments, like yesterday.

The fans deliver on the brand promise too. As the 12th Man, they are the loudest fans in the league and the team encourages their participation and – as was clear on social media last night and today – they love their team, win or lose. While they would have preferred a win yesterday, the team, the organization and the fans showed true leadership in how they handled the loss. It was impressive.

I am sure that in the Seattle Seahawks’ post-game debrief, errors and mistakes will be reviewed by the players and coaches many times, and individuals will be held accountable for their decisions or actions – but they didn’t do that in public. That is a task that belongs within the walls of the organization and behind closed doors.

The Seahawks’ form of leadership and communication should be applauded. They fully deliver on their brand promise.

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Happy New YearHappy New Year! From everyone at AHA – we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.

In the AHA office, we have been talking a lot about 2015 and what it will bring in the world of communication. It is clear to us that this year will bring PR, branding, social media and marketing together – even more than it already is.

I think we have been fortunate because we have been involved in the online world for so long – close to fifteen years. We recognized where corporate and organizational communication was going a long time ago and have always been working towards a blended approach, with strategic PR and brand leading the strategic communications approach (which should include social media and marketing).

Building relationships with your stakeholders and communities has always been at the heart of public relations. And that is what the world demands now – relationships. Whether it is in branding, marketing, advertising, social media or PR – people want an authentic connection with the brand and the people who work at an organization.

There are no longer two worlds for a CEO or president – their personal life runs into their professional life and vice versa. If an organization only uses social media to push information out – it isn’t going to be effective. If ads are only about what the company wants to say rather than what the consumer wants to hear, they won’t work. (And if they don’t have some kind of social media component – there isn’t much chance of building any kind of connection or community.)

“Integrated” might be the word of the year when it comes to what we do for our clients. We need to blend PR, branding, social media and marketing so that you are speaking with the same voice, messaging and positioning, allowing your target market, stakeholders or community hear from you through a diverse range of platforms in a way that is engaging and interesting to them.

We strongly believe that this is the year for strategic engagement with stakeholders, customers or clients, and your communities. We are excited to help our clients achieve this through a blended approach that produces results and is budget-effective.

This year is going to be great for AHA and for our clients!

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I travel quite a bit for business and pleasure, and I have to say my most recent travel on United Airlines (from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Vancouver) was the worst experience I have ever had on an airline. #UnitedSUCKS (the trending hashtag) should be painted on their airplanes…

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