Vancouver PR Agency

AHA Can Write

Shel Holtz has a very interesting piece on whether writing is a core skill for a professional communicator. He did a round up, asking several strategic communications professionals for their take and their responses are thoughtful and relevant. It’s an interesting topic and this piece is definitely worth reading.


There are some communicators who focus more on the actual craft of writing in their day-to-day work than others, but I can’t imagine that a professional communicator doesn’t need solid writing skills to do their job. Communication is at the very foundation of what we do (we are called communicators, after all) and words are the building blocks for communication. No matter how we communicate – through speeches, newsletters, meetings, video, webinars or any other form – at some point, there is writing involved. To be able to write clearly means that you can think clearly and that’s where it all begins – developing a strategy, defining the message and identifying the tools.

I think that there are different levels of writing well. There are some people that are gifted storytellers; these people can bring the information being shared to life. Their words engage. Others write in a more “corporate” manner, providing just the facts in an informative and straightforward way. Different things apply to different projects or initiatives. However, I strongly believe that if a person doesn’t have, at the very least, the basic skills – including spelling, punctuation and grammar – they will have a real challenge as a communicator.

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Old Spice - AHA Creative blog post

Photo credit: Pavel Ševela / Wikimedia Commons

There has been quite a bit of buzz recently about the Old Spice social media campaign that has the Old Spice Man replying via video to tweets. The campaign is funny, it’s smart and it showcases just what can be done with social media when you develop a kick ass strategy and identify what the right tools are to deliver on it.

I am sure that a case study on this campaign’s success will appear somewhere in the near future. It would be great to hear from the people who created the campaign on what their objectives were, how this campaign did in their eyes and what benefits the brand received from this unusual and humorous approach to social media.

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I love this article in 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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David Clarke has a great blog post on the Facebook haters who “like” your brand. He outlines some types of people that will “like” (or become a Fan) your brand on Facebook – but not all of them are fans. It is definitely worth a read if you are trying to understand the dynamic of who might “like” your Facebook page.

Recently we’ve seen a few organizations have their Facebook pages overrun by critics. There are some challenges when you choose to develop a Facebook page for your organization. One of the risks you face come from the people that will click that “like” button, but who are really critics or, even worse, haters of your brand. Of course, there are also people who are supporters out there too and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect with them because of a fear of the negative.

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