Inside best practice: spotlight on the 2013 COMM PRIX winners for Public Service and Media Relations categories
This month we’ll take a closer look on two winners of the 2013 edition of the Global Alliance COMM PRIX Awards: Argyle Communications, winner for the Public Service category, and Broad Reach Communications, winner for the Media Relations category.
New Transit Opportunity for Toronto: Involving the Toronto Community in the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Line
By Argyle Communications
Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario, Canada’s largest province, is making an historic investment in new transit for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, one of North America’s largest urban regions.
Argyle Communications was challenged to increase public engagement, awareness and support for the first project, the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line, which was one of the largest transit infrastructure projects in the world. Along with concern about the years of construction, there were communications challenges unique to the context:
- Legacy of false starts: a subway on the route had been scrapped in the 1990s and political disagreements, along with changes to the funding and timing, led to scepticism that this latest plan would happen.
- Timing and complexity: Station renderings included at open houses often changed up to the day of the in-person event, meaning resources had to be available on ‘event day’ to launch the online version in conjunction with public meetings. The technical language, along with the public debate of the relative merits of subway and light rail, only increased confusion.
- Website requirements: Ontario has some of the most stringent web content accessibility requirements for people with disabilities, so we had to find creative ways to execute the program while maintaining a compelling visual experience.
Argyle’s approach used digital tools to target engagement to the local level and used online consultations to expand participation using five elements:
- Mirror the in-person experience – online: Online consultations opened on the same day as the public open houses, and the team used the same presentation and survey questions at events and online, enabling consistency in both data collection and stakeholder experience. By using text summary versions, colour contrast and tagged images, the team ensured digital content could be read through screen readers.
- Leverage established tools: Argyle created a comprehensive online consultation experience that could be achieved using online tools including the Crosstown website, SurveyMonkey and SlideShare.
- Cross-platform promotion: The team reached out to local residents and transit riders through the Crosstown website, an e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.
- Connect to the big picture: While each consultation focused on a specific station or issue, the full communications program focused simultaneously on the Crosstown’s future benefit and demystified light rail by addressing the project in terms that were meaningful to the everyday rider or stakeholder.
- Transparent and timely reporting: The team analyzed all survey data from in-person and online consultations in reports which were published on The Crosstown website within days of the meeting.
Online engagement raised public participation by 81%, with more than 85% of participants expressing support for the project. Today, several kilometres of tunnel have been built; despite significant construction that will continue along the corridor for many years, the project continues to enjoy public support and is on schedule to open to the public in 2020.
About Argyle Communications
Headquartered in Toronto, Argyle Communications is one of Canada’s largest independent public relations firms and one of the most acclaimed in awards from its industry peers.
Leveraging Media Relations to Position Deloitte Canada as a Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Thought Leader
By Broad Reach Communications
Deloitte’s annual Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions report is a series of insights showcasing the emerging TMT trends expected to significantly impact businesses and consumers around the world in the coming year. Extensively researched using Deloitte’s vast global network of executives, analysts and practitioners, the report is directed at industry leaders from both established and emerging companies. It is also one of the most important global TMT thought leadership pieces to launch each year.
Our goals were focused on expert positioning
The overarching goal was to showcase the knowledge and expertise of Deloitte spokespeople (TMT leaders) across the country by generating widespread media coverage for TMT Predictions among target audiences in national, regional, and online stories. The second goal was to build eminence for Deloitte as a leading professional services firm and thought leader in the TMT industries. The third goal was to position the report’s co-author as a world-renowned TMT expert whose knowledge and expertise would encourage Deloitte clients and prospective clients to request meetings with him. The fourth goal was to present 10 regional spokespeople as “go to” commentators for regional stories on TMT Predictions―for this and future media relations campaigns. A number of quantitative goals were also set, one of which was to improve on the previous years’ audience impressions of 92.6 million. No small feat.
Our challenges were significant, but not insurmountable
To inform the communications plan, Broad Reach thoroughly researched the Canadian editorial landscape and determined that several of Deloitte’s competitors also released technology and other predictions each year. The resulting media clutter would make it hard for any firm to dominate. After reviewing the research and analyzing last year’s approach, Broad Reach had a clear understanding of the campaign’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The challenges that needed to be overcome included:
- Generating national media coverage on the global campaign launch date was a challenge given the global Predictions were announced in London, England, five hours prior to launching in Toronto and available to the media online in advance of our news release. This challenge was overcome by tailoring our story for the Canadian marketplace.
- Generating media coverage for regional events occurring up to two weeks after the national launch was addressed by creating strong regional story angles for each Prediction and offering the report’s co-author for interviews.
- Coordinating the needs and efforts of over 25 national and regional marketing managers and spokespeople was overcome by holding regular meetings, crafting clear communications, and creating comprehensive briefings.
- Coordinating interviews for 10 media spokespeople across five time zones was successfully managed by scheduling all interviews in a master Outlook calendar.
We focused on the most newsworthy predictions for Canadian businesses and consumers
Broad Reach designed and executed an extensive media relations campaign culminating in a cross-Canada media tour featuring the report’s co-author as well as ten regional leaders. One of our first tasks was to select the 10 most newsworthy predictions for Canadian consumers and businesses from the global list of 18. All efforts would focus on these 10 predictions, and the themes that emerged were leveraged in key messages and media materials.
Media coverage inspired an immediate national discussion on emerging TMT trends
The campaign exceeded all goals and expectations by producing an unprecedented volume and quality of media coverage: over 128.5 million audience impressions in 210 on-message stories, 95% of them in top-tier media. Not only did the campaign inspire a national discussion on emerging TMT trends, the report’s author was featured in 60% of the stories and all 10 regional spokespeople participated in high profile TV, radio and print media interviews across the country. In addition, Canadian media coverage was four times as extensive as coverage in most other Deloitte member-firm countries. As a result of the widespread eminence created by this media relations campaign, Canadian CXOs, CIOs, CFOs, IT administrators, and media across the country see Deloitte as a pre-eminent thought leader in the TMT industries.
About Broad Reach Communications
Broad Reach is a Toronto-based, full service PR and communications agency that helps clients build long-term relationships with key stakeholder audiences through strategic, authentic and persuasive communications. With a focus on business results rather than spin, Broad Reach executes award-winning, targeted public relations, social media, writing, internal and other communications programs in the corporate, financial, consumer and health and wellness sectors. And because we don’t incur the high overhead costs of traditional agencies, our business model allows us to do all of this at great value. In short, we build strong relationships, at great value, and make you look good. For more details visit www.broadreachcommunications.com.