Bridging Two Worlds

A conversation about online media and what it means to your organization


Posted by B2W on July 1, 2009

For those who would like to read our blog on public relations and social media or connect with AHA, please visit

To stay in touch with Patsy and Della, please go to


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The Final B2W Post

Posted by B2W on July 1, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley and Della Smith

The time has come for our last B2W blog post. Writing this blog post is bittersweet, the partnership between AHA Creative Strategies and QUAY Strategies was incredible. The work we did together was interesting, engaging and challenging. In embracing social media, both organizations were able to provide added value to our clients.

While we are sad to put B2W to rest, we’re also excited about the future. As I write this post, Patsy is busy planning a month-long European adventure and Della is developing the next episode in her professional life (and the next chapter of her book!). At AHA, we are in the middle of a website and brand refresh that will better reflect who we are and the services we offer.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Patsy and Della for their professional guidance, advice and mentoring as we (and AHA) grew and evolved. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and partner with Patsy, Della and the team at QUAY. Their professionalism, expertise and experience is matched only by their sense of fun and adventure. Working with QUAY has been both a professional and personal pleasure. We will miss being a part of something so special.

Now, I will hand over this post to Della for a few words.

The Bridging Two Worlds blog has been a fun and worthwhile experience. Aside from working with AHA and sharing our thoughts, it has taught me the great challenge of keeping up with a blog. As we counsel our clients, this is a big commitment and often gets relegated to the side of one’s desk when other priorities take over.

As I start my new venture in September and begin writing my book I will be realistic about blogging and participating in other social media forums. I expect to start a book blog in the late fall.

Also, Ruth and I will still be doing our “online communication” workshops ensuring that we continue searching for the best applications and keep on top of the latest happenings in that world.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading the blog.

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If I wouldn’t use it, why would I recommend it?

Posted by B2W on June 24, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

First off, I have to apologize for this blog being less active than usual. As many of you know, things are changing in our world. QUAY is closing its doors and AHA is refreshing and re-energizing and getting ready for the next stage of our professional life. As of June 30, this blog will be over, but – within a few days (or a week) of that, our new AHA blog and website will be up and it will all be back to normal with almost daily blog posts and even some vodcasts and podcasts. And, of course, we will also keep you posted on what’s happening with Patsy and Della and hope they will come on as guest bloggers every once in a while. So stay tuned…it’s going to be great!

Now back to the real blog post!

Todd Defren has an excellent post at his PR-Squared blog today. (He often has excellent posts so if you don’t subscribe to his blog, you really should.) In it, he talks about the importance of having your PR team believe in what you do because they have tried your service or product and genuinely believe it has value.

At AHA, we won’t take on a client that we wouldn’t tell our friends or family about, that we wouldn’t be proud saying “hey, we work with them, we’re a part of their communications team.”  We have clients that offer things that might not be relevant to any of our team at this stage of our lives/careers…for example, we have done quite a bit of work with BCIT’s School of Health Sciences and it’s highly unlikely I am going to give up PR and go back to school to become a health care professional. However, I have spent a great deal of time with many of the instructors, program heads and the Dean of the school, Kathy Kinloch and I would recommend the School of Health Sciences to anyone I know that wants to enter the field of health sciences.

When I was a journalist and got a pitch from a PR person, I could tell in seconds if they were just feeding me a bunch of words or if they really believed in their client. Let’s be realistic, if your PR person doesn’t believe in what they are pitching the media – the media isn’t going to either.

AHA is a small agency by choice and one of the reasons we decided to stay “boutique” is because we want to make sure that we only take on clients we can get behind, that we believe in. We don’t want to become big enough that we have to take on work to support the company. And, let me tell you…there have been times early on in our company’s history when it would have been much easier financially to take on certain clients, but we held fast to our belief that we needed to understand and experience what they were offering wherever possible – and we need to believe in them. Which, by the way, doesn’t mean that we just take the message out “there.” We develop a strategy, work on story angles and develop engagement concepts that will connect like-minded people through social media sites, etc. But, at the heart of it, it’s that we think this organization is worthy of your time and/or energy and sometimes even your hard-earned dollars.

When we take on a client, when we “get” what they are offering – it’s so much easier to pitch media, to blog about them, to put information out on Twitter or to share it on Facebook or other social media sites. More and more these days, as social media blurs the line between professional and personal, it’s important that as communicators that we embrace the value of our being authentic in what we put forward on behalf of our clients.  For us, it’s not just about being awarded the contract. It’s about finding great organizations that we can put our expertise, experience and our reputation behind. It makes such a difference to our success, to our client’s success and to what the future holds.

No matter what organization you choose to work with, make sure they “get it.” It’s crucial.

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Your Online Presence is Important!

Posted by B2W on June 18, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Editor & Publisher has an interesting article on which newspapers have the best websites. It’s all U.S.-based sites, but it’s worth a look. I know there is a great deal of talk about the death of newspapers, but I think the smart ones will reinvent themselves and have a stronger online presence.

Your online presence, no matter whether you are a newspaper, a not-for-profit, a small business, a large corporation or government is important. We talk to clients and workshop participants about this a great deal. Your website is key in your communications strategy. Without a good site and using Twitter, Facebook or any of the social media tools available to us, you are really not doing your organization justice.

Twitter is great for sharing and discovering information, but if you follow some of the best Tweets, they lead you back to a blog, a website or somewhere you can get more information. Don’t lead people back to an old website that hasn’t been updated in months.

Take a good look at your website – is it dynamic, do you have fresh content posted regularly, is there an opportunity for feedback and interactivity? What are your stats and are you digging in to see who is coming to your site, what they are engaged in, and what they stick around to read?

Online communication is of great value, but don’t run before you walk. Take a good look at your website and make sure it is of value to the people you want to engage in conversation.

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Twitter to Verify Accounts

Posted by B2W on June 9, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There’s good news on the horizon for those businesses and celebrities that are being impersonated on Twitter.

Apparently, St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter. It was reported by the Associated Press that La Russa was “claiming an unauthorized page used his name to make light of drunken driving and two Cardinals pitchers who died, [it] damaged his reputation and caused emotional distress.”

Sports Illustrated’s website is reporting that the two sides have reached an agreement. Twitter is paying legal fees and making a donation to La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation.

These types of impersonations are happening more and more on Twitter. TechCrunch has a blog post reporting that this summer, Twitter is planning to add a feature called “verified accounts.” This will help ensure people using the accounts are actually the person and not an impersonator. To start, Twitter will be looking at famous people.

I am sure many can’t wait until the time comes for Twitter to verify business and brand accounts.

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CPRS On The Edge & TRENZ

Posted by B2W on June 8, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Kia Ora. (That’s a “hi” from me from New Zealand.)

It’s June 9 here and I am about to go to my first day of blogging at TRENZ in New Zealand for Tourism New Zealand. But before I do that, Della and I are speaking at the Canadian Public Relations On The Edge Conference in Vancouver.


Della will physically be at the CPRS conference and I will be “beaming” in via the Internet. We’re using WebEx  for our PowerPoint (with live streaming video of me showing on the side of the screen), Skype and a cell phone as backup. (We hope it’s not necessary.)

We’re not quite where CNN is with the human “hologram” that they beamed into their studio during the US Presidential election in November, but we think this is pretty interesting.

I will be at TRENZ as soon as the presentation ends. To see the public relations outreach we have done so far on behalf of Tourism New Zealand using social media, please check out the TRENZblog, Twitter and Flickr.

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New Beginnings

Posted by B2W on June 5, 2009

As of June 1st QUAY (a co-host of this blog) announced the company will be closing at the end of August. Patsy and Della, the principals, will be carrying on to new ventures.  Patsy will take a quick sabbatical, then look to work at an organization where she can apply her skills and talents. Della will continue to do workshops, facilitate and provide training programs while working on her book. This will also mean a formal end to Bridging Two Worlds. AHA Creative Strategies (the other co-host) and QUAY will wrap up this blog at the end of June. Ruth and Paul from AHA will continue blogging at (AHA is in the middle of reviewing and revising their brand personality and will continue to focus on delivering a strategic blend of traditional and online communications to clients throughout North America.)

It has been a fun and rewarding venture to collaborate on Bridging Two Worlds, providing workshops and sharing client work. That work will definitely continue until the end of August. After that, it is fully expected that the principals of both companies will continue to find opportunities to work together.  

From cool projects for clients such as Tourism New Zealand (Ruth is busy blogging down there right now) to Masterclass workshops in Victoria and Vancouver to internal communications ventures online to stakeholders programs and much more, this has been a fun and enlightening experience for everyone involved. 

Comments from all principals:

Ruth – Alexander Graham Bell once said: “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” We have had a great experience working in partnership with QUAY and wish Patsy and Della the best in their new ventures. We have learned so much through our collaboration with QUAY and are grateful for the experience and the adventures. We are sad to see this door close, but are also excited for Patsy and Della and ourselves at what is around the corner!

We move forward with great memories of the work we did with QUAY for clients and with excitement and anticipation of a new, refreshed and lively AHA Creative Strategies. We have found a great balance in the strategic use of social media and traditional communications and are looking forward to bringing our knowledge and experience to our current and future clients.

Paul – It’s an exciting time for all of us. Patsy and Della are starting new chapters in their lives and we couldn’t be happier for them. We’re looking forward to hearing about their new experiences and seeing how life changes for them. As for AHA, we have had a great time working with QUAY and they have been incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge, expertise and experience with us. We are very grateful for their mentorship and friendship. Now, we’re ready to move forward with AHA. We know who we are, we know what we can bring to our clients and are busy working on a little refresh of our brand. We’re going to become little bolder, a little cheeky and a little more fun while remaining strategic, professional and client service focused. We’ve had our own AHA moment and are excited about tomorrow!

Patsy – If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.  ~Mary Engelbreit 

I think this quote speaks to how organizations are now embracing social media by initiating AND participating in online conversations and adding these evolving communication tools into its growing strategic arsenal.

I look forward to working with Ruth, Paul and Della on future communications endeavours.

Della – Endings are often bittersweet. While the people involved are often eager to pursue new endeavours, there is a sadness about closing one door to enable others to open. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and working with Ruth and Paul on Bridging Two Worlds projects. We both embrace the philosophy that online communications needs to be part of your overall communications strategy. The synergy on our approach to helping clients and each other navigate this amazing world of Tweets, Pipl, Flickr, WOW, Skype, hashtags, diablogs, avatars, Googlitis, Facebook, virtual worlds, vodcasts, podcasts, Digg, and so on has been energizing to say the least. It has been like learning a new language that changes every five minutes. The tools are aplenty and the applications continue to evolve into strong tactics with measurable results. Here’s to merging the worlds of traditional and online communications with smart strategies that work.  In the wise words of Winston Churchill, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.”

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Take a virtual trip to New Zealand

Posted by B2W on June 1, 2009

For a nice break, take a little trip through New Zealand with Ruth by checking out

Ruth is in New Zealand with Tourism New Zealand – visiting some of the great sites of the country and will be blogging, on Twitter and on Flickr until June 12. Take a virtual visit to New Zealand – you can even post comments, ask Ruth to check something out for you or tell her your NZ travel experience!

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Who “Owns” Social Media?

Posted by B2W on May 26, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There is a very interesting article by Adam Broitman on iMedia Connection on “Social Media: Whose Job Is It Anyway?” It is a question that is often asked by a range of professionals from front line staff that want to participate, to the communicators, to the CEO and board of directors. One of the key points we make when answering it—and the answer is a little different each time because the organization is different—is that if it is everyone’s job, it will end up being no one’s job. There has to be someone within the organization that “owns” social media.

That isn’t to say that several areas of an organization shouldn’t be involved in social media and I believe PR/Communications should have a seat at the planning table. There is often a blur between Marketing and PR in the online world and it’s important to recognize that. Another area that should be included is IT. At the core of doing anything online is the technology. Consulting with your IT team is important; they can help you avoid some challenges that only someone with technical knowledge could foresee. However, having said that, I believe that IT is a contributor to the common goal, not the manager of the process.

Much like communication impacts other areas of an organization, so does social media. Social media is about joining the conversation, it’s about connecting and communicating, and it’s an important component of your overall communications and marketing strategy.

We have had several clients come to us and say they have been asked to build a social media strategy. It’s always interesting when we dig a little deeper and see what they actually want to accomplish by creating this strategy. Looking at social media, communications and marketing as silos within an organization doesn’t work anymore, and it is a perception that can create challenges both internally and externally. In my opinion, there needs to be an integrated approach and Communications needs to be, if not the driving force, a strong partner in the planning and implementation.

So, whose job is it anyway? In most organizations right now, that’s a question that should be asked.

Posted in Demystifying Online Communications, Marketing Communications, Social Media | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Are You Listening?

Posted by B2W on May 25, 2009

Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

There was an interesting article in BusinessWeek last week about Web 2.0 and managing corporate reputations. I am often asked about the challenges that come with the open conversations created by social media. It’s a valid concern for organizations and one that should be taken seriously.

Some organizations choose to block employee access to social networking sites. That seems to be old paradigm thinking to me and it is a bit like locking the barn door after the horse has already walked out. There are all sorts of ways around being blocked. Think about how many staff members have an iPhone or a BlackBerry and can get online that way (and that number is only growing) or they can use an Internet stick (we use one quite often when we give presentations to organizations). And – there is always time away from the office.

What if, instead of shutting it down or ignoring what is being said on the Web, you took the opportunity to find people in your organization that are online and ask for their input on what you should be doing online? What if it became someone’s role to see what is being said online and you took a good look it – especially if it is negative.

There are many horror stories about people saying things or uploading video online that they shouldn’t. We’re in a new age of freedoms and many of us are still finding our way around it. Mistakes are going to happen – and people seem to forget that what is written online may be read and passed on to many people. However, when I see some of the more “high profile” examples of things that are inappropriate, unprofessional or just plain wrong being put online, one question comes to mind: Does your organization have a social media policy that everyone in your organization is aware of – and understands? There are two sides to this kind of policy – what staff members can do or say online in regards to your organization and what they can’t. If you are going to tell them what is acceptable, you also need to outline what is not acceptable. There is a lot of gray area here and you really need to be clear.

There is risk involved with embracing social media (in my opinion, there are more risks involved in ignoring it), but there are also some amazing opportunities. You do have to be open to criticism and to learning some new things as you go, but there are incredible opportunities to extend your stakeholder community, to engage individuals and groups that are interested in what you do, and to join a conversation that is already happening.

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