Support The Cause Day Walk – Western Financial Group
Every year Western Financial Group’s (Western) approximately 1,600 employees participate in a walk from their office locations across Western Canada to raise money for the company’s charity: Western Communities Foundation. We worked with Western on a regular basis to help spread company news, growth announcements and charity work. Western asked us to come up with a strategy to publicize the 2013 Support The Cause Day walk in communities across Western Canada.
We created and distributed a Support The Cause Day national news release to industry publications and major newsrooms across Canada. We also customized the release for distribution in approximately 20 communities identified by Western as key targets. We trained regional spokespeople, helped organize special photo opportunities and interviews with media, and worked to get photographs and statistics to media after the event. We also enabled branch managers in communities we were not directly supporting by providing a news release template, and helping with media relations on request.
In 2013, our efforts generated approximately 30 Support The Cause Day media hits for Western Financial Group from industry publications, newspapers, radio stations and blogs across Western Canada. Many offices – big and small – were happy to see their efforts covered by their local newspapers or radio stations. We were able to provide Western staff in dozens of communities with a means to share news of Support The Cause Day with their neighbours.
Fort Rouge Yards Public Consultation
We were engaged by the developers behind a large proposed infill real estate development on the former Fort Rouge Rail Yards in Winnipeg. The proposal was to build a mix of low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise buildings to accommodate 2,500 new residential units immediately adjacent to a century old neighbourhood and the city’s new rapid transit corridor. The developers needed help winning city council’s approval to change the zoning of the site from industrial to residential. That meant also winning over the neighbourhood which was skeptical of the proposal.
We arranged for a public consultation process that included inviting members of the community to take part in introductory design charettes. These were more brainstorming sessions than public meetings where architects, city staff and consultants involved in the project met to discuss the project with some influential area residents. The charettes informed the design team of some of the elements the neighbourhood wanted to see. We also coordinated two full public open houses where the plans were put forward for everyone to see and comments and feedback was collected. Additionally, we created a website, newsletters and other public communications tools to help communicate the advantages of the new transit-oriented development, and to answer the public’s questions. Finally, we took a lead role in presenting the benefits of the development at city hall. That meant clearly articulating that area roads could easily support the predicted extra traffic, while the neighbourhood schools, parks and community centres would all benefit from additional residents and additional city investment.
We worked on this project for more than half a year during which we helped oversee the entire public consultation process. In our view, our most important strategic goal was to try to keep the public as informed as possible about the project. Where information is lacking or hidden on projects like this, the public tends to speculate and guess about what is going on. That kind of atmosphere can breed mistrust and harden community opposition to a project prematurely. We were pleased that our efforts both drove widespread acceptance of the new development in the neighbourhood, but also helped our client win the approvals it needed at city hall.
Fishing with Ford
On behalf of our client, Ford of Canada, we partnered with Travel Manitoba to organize an exciting three-day fishing adventure at Manitoba’s remote and beautiful Eagle Nest Lodge. We invited eight national lifestyle media with the objective to yield positive earned media for both the Provincial Tourism Board and Ford of Canada. One of our main challenges with this event was to ensure the Ford vehicles’ features and technologies were highlighted. As well, we wanted to showcase Ford vehicles’ capabilities as ideal for outdoors enthusiasts and families.
Together with Travel Manitoba, we prepared all aspects of the event, from organizing the logistics across Manitoba for the Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt, to arranging the itineraries of the participants. Our invited lifestyle media were divided into teams of two and each given a Ford vehicle to put through the paces. The scavenger hunt led them from downtown Winnipeg to the float planes at Lac du Bonnet, where they took a quick flight to the lodge.
Fishing with Ford was a success for both Travel Manitoba and Ford of Canada. It highlighted areas in Manitoba in a new light that participants would not have discovered on their own. The scavenger hunt portion of the event gave media the opportunity to test-drive Ford vehicles and engage in Ford’s advanced features and technologies. The trip provided a great chance to showcase the vehicles’ abilities to handle urban traffic as well as highways and rural roads. We encouraged teams to use social media, and we collected more than one hundred updates and postings from the participants about their experience.
The event also gave Ford of Canada the opportunity to speak directly to new audiences including Outdoor Canada magazine, the number one hunting and fishing magazine in the country, Chatelaine magazine, one of the leading lifestyle and food publications in Canada, and Toque and Canoe, a top travel and adventure website.