When Strathcona County’s Recreation, Parks and Culture (RPC) marketing team began brainstorming for their Silver Leaf Award winning campaign, they knew they had to be prepared to communicate a vast amount of information in a constantly changing environment. Not just a software replacement project, this was a significant business transformation for both staff and residents in the County.
Strathcona County had been using the same recreation software for 20 years and it had reached the end of its life. The software implementation not only affected residents who used County facilities and programs, but also staff who used the system on a daily basis. This project was a big undertaking, with approximately 47,600 registrations completed on the system annually. Luckily for Strathcona County, the RPC communications and marketing team was ready for the challenge!
The “Ready? Set . . . Go! with Recreation Online” campaign won both an IABC Edmonton Capital Award of Excellence and a Silver Leaf Award of Merit in 2021. The campaign was developed, delivered, and managed in-house by the Recreation, Parks and Culture marketing team: Communications and Marketing Specialist, Elizabeth Tadman-Kickham; Graphic Design and Digital Media Specialists, Michelle Johnson, Allison Reynolds, Shalyn Werstiuk and Carolyn Vankleek; Recreation Strategic Advisor, Karen Tomnuk; and Manager of Marketing, Partnerships and Programs, Sue Hutton. (Check out the campaign’s creative here.)
“Communications was brought on to the project immediately, which was such a critical piece of the project’s success,” says Karen Tomnuk, Recreation Strategic Advisor. The team knew that having a seat at the table, including throughout the RFP process, was imperative, and they had a strong track record of successful and strategic communications work behind them to prove it.
Finding a creative and fun approach to effectively communicate this massive change with their residents was at the heart of their communications strategizing. This integrated team of graphic designers and communications professionals worked collaboratively from the start to create and implement the campaign – a unique approach to project management.
“Although this is a communications award, this represents so much more than that,” says Sue Hutton, Manager of Marketing, Partnerships and Programs. “For this launch to be successful, we had to work hand in glove understanding how the new system worked, with a collective goal of making it as easy as possible for our residents to adopt on a very tight timeline.”
IABC Edmonton Sr. Director of Volunteers and Strathcona County Marketing and Communications Specialist, Elizabeth Tadman-Kickham added, “the campaign was a success because we knew the importance of a strategic communications plan and we anticipated our team’s resourcing needs in advance. With three separate and distinct waves of activity throughout the launch, it was crucial that we had a very detailed coms plan and that we were ready to be flexible when needed.”
As for tips and tricks on an award-winning submission? Elizabeth advises “Take the time to create a detailed communications plan at the start of your project and keep going back to it to stay organized and on track. When writing your award entry, be sure to tell the judges the story of your project and make sure your goals and measurable objectives are clear and reflected well in your work sample. If you write your coms plan in advance and stick to it, your award entry will be a success.”
Congratulations to our fellow IABC Edmonton chapter members – Strathcona County – on their well-deserved award!