Our community has an excellent reputation for communications expertise that has been repeatedly recognized by IABC at the national and international levels. That was demonstrated again this June, as three IABC/Regina members were presented with Gold Quill awards for their achievements at the IABC World Conference Excellence Gala in New York. 

Our deserving winners are: 

Paula Kohl, Strategic Communications Manager, SaskPower
Gold Quill MERIT Award, Media Relations
Gold Quill MERIT Award, Media Relations

In July 2012, SaskPower applied for a 4.9 per cent rate increase to cover capital expenditures required for infrastructure renewal. With an effective communication strategy, SaskPower secured the required rate increase while maintaining customer trust and overall satisfaction. In addition, trust in SaskPower to make the right decisions regarding electricity rates and positive perceptions of the company remained stable following the rate increase announcement and approval from the Rate Review Panel and Cabinet. Extensive media coverage resulted in accurate, neutral reporting.

“The award recognizes the solid, strategic approach that went into the rate announcement. Never before has SaskPower had such a smooth rate application, and I credit our team for this success,” said Paula. “We prepared senior leaders for the announcement and made every effort to be transparent and provide the media with factual information.”

Diane Ell, Communications Manager, SaskCulture Inc.
Gold Quill MERIT Award, Nonprofit Campaigns
Saskatchewan Loves Culture!

SaskCulture is a provincial non-profit that works with more than 130 member cultural organizations to build a culturally vibrant province. The “Saskatchewan Loves Culture!” campaign was created to increase engagement of Saskatchewan residents in cultural activity, as part of a nation-wide Culture Days movement held in September 2012. The campaign strategy focused on motivating activity organizers to get involved, encouraging public participation and using the opportunity to highlight SaskCulture/Saskatchewan Lotteries as a sponsor for cultural activity in the province. 

According to Diane, one hurdle in particular stood out for her team. “The biggest challenge was to build awareness over such a large geographical area with diverse communication channels, on a very limited budget. We maximized our cultural network connections, encouraging all cultural groups with newsletters and social media sites to promote Culture Days. We also used radio advertising wisely and worked at customizing messages for weekly newspapers around the province.”

These efforts were met with great success, as the number of activity organizers increased by 37.7 per cent, with attendance increasing by 214 per cent. 

“I think people enjoy the opportunity to share their cultural skills, try something new and connect their communities through culture,” added Diane.

Shanan Sorochynski, Communications Officer, University of Regina
Gold Quill MERIT Award, Internal Communication Training
University of Regina Social Media Users Group

In April 2011, the University of Regina Social Media Users Group (URSMUG) was developed to serve as the central hub for providing education and guidance to employees about social media use. Shanan was tasked with creating a communications strategy to increase the value of URSMUG as a resource for staff and faculty.

Shanan’s plan aimed to make the learning group’s regular meetings more effective. Some of the changes included shortening meetings and making the process for exchanging information and addressing questions in a more interactive and timely fashion through channels such as Facebook. “URSMUG gives members access to colleagues who can offer advice, encouragement and general support,” said Shanan. “In additional to gaining new knowledge and skills, it provides an opportunity to network with each other.”

To further promote consistency in the use of social media at the U of R, Shanan developed a social media resource page that went live on the university’s website in early 2012. It included social media guidelines, policies and planning documents accessible anytime. Her efforts proved successful, with the average number of people who attend URSMUG meetings more than doubling and recent survey results showing an 87 per cent approval rating from faculty and staff.

Congratulations to all three winners on their achievements! To find out more about the Gold Quill Awards, or to make a submission for 2014, please visit https://gq.iabc.com/info/.