AHA Creative Strategies is a full-service agency. We offer a range of services to meet the evolving needs of organizations as they inform, educate and engage their stakeholder groups, audience and target markets.
- Communications Audits – Internal and ExternalA communications audit allows us to develop a realistic snapshot of your organization. This provides the foundation necessary to build a strategic internal and/or external communications plan targeted to meet the needs of your audience/community, as well as the objectives of your organization.
- Strategic Communications Planning and ImplementationA communications plan provides a road map for your communications initiatives to
support your organization’s strategic goals. This plan brings the strategy to life. It
outlines objectives and goals, defines roles, responsibilities, key milestones and
measurement, and outlines the tactics and timelines necessary to ensure that results are generated. We work with clients to develop strategic communications plans – and often to implement those plans. The AHA team works with the senior executive, entrepreneur or owner, the director of communications and the communications team to provide communications services. For some clients who don’t have a communications team, we take on that role.
- Positioning and MessagingThe best way to effectively communicate and engage with stakeholders, target markets, audiences and communities is to have clearly defined positioning and messaging. The AHA team works with our clients to define the objectives, to identify your audience, and to develop positioning and messaging that resonates. Whether it is overarching organizational positioning, brand messages or the key messages for a campaign, we work with our clients to create strong, compelling points that resonate with your target audience.
- Brand Journalism/Content CreationAHA Creative Strategies offers brand journalism/content creation services to meet the ever-emerging and increasing needs of client organizations in stakeholder/target market engagement. We work with our clients to identify the interesting, informative and even entertaining stories within your organization and to tell them in a way that enhances your brand reputation and creates positive relationships with stakeholders and your target market. Depending on the objectives, audience and budget, these services could include a content/editorial plan, video segments and/or interviews, podcasts, bylined or ghost-written articles, white papers, tips and hints, Q&As, blog posts, website and social media copy and other forms of content. It also includes working with you to identify your target audience and to define relevant and effective distribution channels and outreach so that your message reaches the right people at the right time.
- Research, Writing, Editing, Fact Checking and ProofreadingResearch, writing, editing, fact checking and proofreading are important elements of any communications initiative or campaign. Our team can write in a range of formats (editorial, web copy, social media content, speeches, brochures, etc.) in your brand voice. Strong research, editing, fact checking and proofreading ensures that your content is well-written, accurate, error-free and grammatically correct. This builds credibility with your audience. The AHA team has delivered these services for materials such as annual and other reports, strategic plan documents, budget highlights, audits and other corporate and organizational documents.
- Social Media AuditA social media audit allows us to develop a realistic snapshot of your organization’s brand reputation, credibility and effectiveness online. This provides the foundation necessary to build a strategic social media plan as a part of an overall communications strategy. It also ensures that you are following best practices in your industry and in the online environment.
- Social Media Strategy and ImplementationOnline communication is an important component of your overall PR strategy and planning. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and many other online tools can help to build and engage your community, audience and stakeholders. Our approach to social media is always strategic and integrated with traditional communications tactics. It’s important to understand where your current community (audience) is online and which social media tools or communities they use or participate in. We also review your current communications plan to identify opportunities to build on already successful initiatives, helping you to expand your community and add additional value. At AHA Creative Strategies, we have an in-depth understanding and experience with online communications. We get the online world – and we like it. This creates incredible opportunities for our clients, and we are continually expanding our knowledge of this ever-evolving communications tool.
- Community/Stakeholder Consultation and EngagementThe AHA team has worked with a range of clients, in public and private sectors, to plan and deliver community and stakeholder consultation and engagement. Several of our team are IAP2 (International Association of Public Participation) certified, providing strong expertise and professionalism to our work. We help our clients plan and implement effective consultation strategies, especially regarding controversial or sensitive subject matter. We engage public participation to help raise awareness and inform, as well as to identify potential or emerging issues or opportunities.
- Media Relations and PublicityMedia relations and publicity are about creating mutually respectful relationships with journalists and effectively communicating your key messages to the media. We work with you to develop strong media relations and publicity campaigns through providing an understanding of news values, establishing your organization as a valuable resource for reporters, and effectively targeting relevant media with news releases, pitches and story ideas. Click here to see some of the media outlets where we’ve generated positive publicity for our clients.
- Blogger RelationsDeveloping positive relationships with bloggers is an important component of public relations. Bloggers are valued members of specific communities and deserve to be treated with the same respect that is given to journalists, but they are approached differently. We understand the culture of the online world and the blogosphere. We can help you to identify and open conversations with influential and relevant bloggers and, when required, negotiate appropriate compensation for their engagement.
- Social Media Influencer RelationsThe world has changed and social media influencers now play an important role in raising awareness of your organization, products, services and other elements – and in engaging with your stakeholders, target markets and audience. Working with social media influencers is new to some organizations. We work with our clients to guide them through the process, negotiate the contract, establish the scope of work, and define success by setting measurable goals.
- Community RelationsCommunity relations is an important area of communications outreach. Maintaining an active profile, contributing to your community, and building strong relationships are key contributors to your brand reputation and for internal morale. Engaging with your community also sets the foundation for ongoing dialogue with stakeholders (which may include critics). The AHA team works with our clients to establish a strategic approach to community engagement and relationship building, helping our clients to create and sustain meaningful participation and contribution to their communities.
- Internal CommunicationsHow you communicate internally is as important as how you communicate externally. Internal and external communications create a two-way communications loop, feeding into and reinforcing each other. Effective internal communications can help to unify an organization. Staff who have a clear understanding of the vision and key messages of the company are the most skilled at transmitting that information. An intranet (internal community online site), e-newsletters, videos and blogs are some of the ways AHA can assist you in opening the doors of communication with employees and stakeholders. Creating a connection between your organization’s values and employees is critical to providing staff with the opportunity to become ambassadors and evangelists for your brand.
- Marketing CommunicationsWith the widespread use of social media and online media, the roles of marketing and communications have blended somewhat. Marketing communications assists you in opening (or joining) the conversation with your consumer community or audience through a range of what, in the past, would have been considered “public relations” blended with traditional marketing elements such as advertising, promotional events, etc. It allows your potential clients or customers to learn more about your products or services and your organization. From launching a new product or service to revitalizing your brand in the eyes of the public, marketing/promotional PR can help you to create a connection. This can include promoted posts, online ads, interactive marketing campaigns with traditional ad support and more. AHA works with our clients to develop a strategic approach to marketing communications efforts – setting clear objectives and helping you to connect with consumers or stakeholders. We approach this area of strategic communications through a range of channels, including traditional media and publicity, paid and organic social media, search engine optimization (SEO), community relations, events, sponsorships and strategic partnerships.
- Event ManagementEvent management is an important component in strategic communications. Whether for an internal or external audience, a good event plan reflects your organization’s brand, identifies the target audience, provides a strong event concept, and outlines the logistics – including technical aspects. It can also include political and dignitary protocol and, in some cases, issue or crisis management – depending on the content being put forward at the specific event. At AHA, we work with our clients to create strong creative concepts that are supported by strategy, ensuring that the event is focused on your organization’s goals. Along with a detailed approach to the logistics and execution of the event, we also work to create media attention, if appropriate, and work to ensure that the event is maximized in other communications initiatives (social media, on the website, etc.).
- Issue and Crisis Communications Plans and ManagementAn issue or crisis can arise at any time – whether it’s a major accident, a change of CEO, staff layoffs or other potentially brand-damaging challenges. The widespread use of online communication tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vine and blogs means that sensitive issues and crises can affect virtually every industry at some point. Effective and immediate management of information is crucial. You can’t predict when an issue will arise or when a crisis will strike, but you can be prepared. We work with clients to develop a crisis communications plan in preparation for potential challenges. We also provide the opportunity to hold internal crisis and issues workshops with “tabletop” exercises and role-playing, in order to prepare your organization. During a crisis or issue situation, we work closely with clients to manage media relations, internal issues and other stakeholder concerns. Offering coaching every step of the way, we develop key messages and help spokespeople to strategically position the organization during media interviews, stakeholder briefings and internal communications outreach. Once the issue is effectively managed, we work with you, through a comprehensive debrief, so that we can effectively evaluate and document the lessons, challenges and successes so that they can be integrated into future planning.
- Media Training and CoachingUnderstanding how the media works and learning how to effectively position your organization and communicate key messages is crucial in generating positive media coverage. AHA demystifies the media process through training in real-world situations and scenarios so that when the time comes to engage with media, you and your key personnel are prepared. At AHA, we have extensive knowledge of how the media works. Prior to becoming a strategic communications professional, partner Ruth Atherley worked as a journalist and has reported and written for many national publications. We know what it takes to effectively develop and communicate your message to the media. We also understand what the media needs in order to do their job. Good media relations is about working with the media, managing the situation, and expecting the unexpected. From learning about how to deal with an aggressive reporter who is digging for a specific angle, to understanding your role as a source for journalists, to having a clear and concise message to deliver, our media training will prepare you and your team for interaction with all forms of media. We role-play on videotape so that participants can better understand and experience the process of an interview. Apprehension often comes from simply not knowing what to expect. In this interactive session, we take you through the process of being interviewed, delivering key messages, and responding to different interview techniques and styles. From body language to addressing challenging questions, AHA will prepare you to engage and succeed through your interactions with the media. Our media training services include:
• Half and full-day group media training workshops, with videotaped role-playing
interviews, development of key messages and written feedback.
• One-on-one media coaching.
• Issues and crisis communication media training and coaching.
• Specific campaign media training and coaching.
- PR WorkshopsWe offer half-day workshops that are customized for your organization or group. Depending on your organization’s objectives, we can also develop workshops specifically addressing your needs.
- Online/Social Media WorkshopThe growing use of online media (including social media) has shifted how organizations communicate and how an issue or crisis needs to be managed. Understanding and effectively using these tools can seem intimidating and overwhelming. The AHA online/social media workshop is a half-day interactive session designed to demystify, explain and showcase the opportunities and challenges that online media creates for you and your organization. Designed by communications professionals with expertise in both traditional and online media, this workshop gives you an overview of this fast-paced environment. In this workshop you will:
• Learn the unique culture of social media.
• Understand the different ways to communicate online.
• Realize the importance of online threats to your organization’s reputation and
how to manage them.
• Develop skills to proactively reach out to your stakeholders online.
• Understand the importance of a strategic approach to communicating online.
• Learn how to include and blend these new tools into your strategic
communications plan, if appropriate.
• Gain knowledge of how to monitor what is being said about your organization
online (and who is saying it).
• Understand how to develop a solid corporate policy around social media
- PR 101 WorkshopGreat public relations tells your story in a way that engages your audience and calls them to action. It raises the profile of your organization so that you become a topic of positive conversation whenever your field is mentioned. PR acts as a translator, taking what you have to say to your stakeholders and putting it into a message that opens the conversation and creates brand loyalty. At this workshop, you will learn essential tools and techniques that will allow you to reach your target market through traditional and online media. They include:
• What today’s news values are and how you can “package” your story to make it
• How to get the media and bloggers interested in your story.
• When and how to approach and follow up with the media and bloggers.
• How to develop a relationship with media and bloggers.
• How to prepare for an interview.
• How to control your messages during an interview.
• How to write media-friendly bios, backgrounders and news releases.
- SpeakingAHA CEO Ruth Atherley regularly speaks to groups, organizations and associations about the strategic use of social media in communications, how to build your business with PR and publicity, and how to effectively manage your message with the media. If you are interested in having Ruth speak on this or any other topic, please contact us. We’re always open to new ideas!
- Travel & Tourism PRIt takes a special type of PR person to “get” the world of travel and tourism PR. We are travellers at heart, we’re strategic and creative, and we have an in-depth understanding of the ever-evolving and increasingly challenging world of travel and tourism. (And we know the difference between what it means to take a vacation versus the incredible demands of working in the travel and tourism field.) The services we provide to travel clients are a bit different, as their needs are often unique to that industry. Here is a video that explains our services in a simplified manner (https://vimeo.com/70352406). We work closely with consumer and travel trade media – print, broadcast, online publications, bloggers and social media influencers – and effectively engage and build relationships with them on behalf of our clients.
Services Video Summary
If you would like to know about the services that AHA provides in a simplified manner, please watch our video.