You’re a fundraising organization and you’d like to draw attention to the events you’ve organized.
This won’t be easy.
If anything makes media yawn, it’s another charity doing another walk to raise money.
Whether that makes sense or is simply callous, it’s a fact. It’s exactly what happens in a newsroom – they get pitched pretty much every day about those sorts of initiatives, and are often invited to write about the event based on, frankly, uninspiring hooks.
There are so many of them, it’s understandable so many get deleted. It’s hard to tell one from another. And the excuse for not biting is an easy one: “We get these pitches every single day. If we’re going to say yes to one, we’re going to have to say yes to all of them.”
Look, you and I both know that’s not true. Media doesn’t have to say yes to all of them. But they’ll say yes if — and here’s the big if — there are compelling stories to tell.
So when our longtime client, the Alzheimer Society of B.C., asked us to pitch the 2018 Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer’s – 23 fundraising walks around the province on May 6 – we couldn’t help but feel challenged. The society planned to honour longtime volunteers, or others who’ve been impacted by Alzheimer’s, at each site. If you think charity events are a tough thing to pitch, how about volunteerism? In both cases, absolutely worthy. In both cases, media usually shrugs.
How, then, did we do it? By investing time. Effort. Delving into the subject. Getting to know people. And becoming emotionally involved with our client’s story.
The society wanted us to pitch Michele Buchignani and her parents, Reg and Sally. They were, no doubt, keen and experienced volunteers. Reg’s mother had had Alzheimer’s. Reg came to the society for help, for guidance. And 30 years later, he’s still giving his time. So is Michele, who’s had her boots on the ground as a volunteer as well as being the past chair of the board of directors.
We knew we needed more than the volunteer angle. So we invited Michele to Peak’s offices one Friday afternoon. We sat her down and said: “Tell us about your grandma. Take us back to when she was healthy. What was she like?” And just like that, Michele brought her grandma back to life. It was really something: funny in places, sad in others. Mary Buchignani was a strong woman of tremendous character and personality – and then she wasn’t. Michele learned a lot, watching her grandma’s long struggle with Alzheimer’s. It led to her getting involved, becoming an advocate.
After an hour in our boardroom, we knew we had at least one great story. We had someone with lived experience who had the personal story, but also could deliver the key messages – the walks, the fundraising, the need for increased awareness about and support for people with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones – in succinct and effective ways. Listening to Michele, we knew she would make a compelling TV or radio talk show guest.
From there, our task was simple: Sell Michele. And determine what the other best stories were. We had a planner from the City of New Westminster who’s not only been working on New West becoming B.C.’s first dementia-friendly community but also has a father who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; a couple who’ve had a long life together, filled with affection and love, and the disease won’t steal those things from them; and a 69-year-old woman, several years into her diagnosis, who decided she wanted to go skydiving. Fantastic stories of different types. All meaningful. All human.
We went into this project knowing it would be a challenge. But when we take on a project, we always find a way to get media results. It’s where Peak has earned its reputation. So we landed the major media, from the Vancouver Sun to Global TV to CBC Radio and CKNW. And the regional media, who told those powerful stories about people who live in their area. We had a client in the Alzheimer Society of B.C. that was passionate and communicative and positive, and we were able to help successfully convey their chief messages time and time again.
When it was all over, the event was behind us and we all knew so much more about Alzheimer’s, we were able to say to the client: We can keep getting you, and the work you’re doing, attention. And we don’t need the walk to do it.
Take the case of the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a well-respected addiction treatment centre in Powell River where 20-year-old Brandon Jansen died of a fentanyl overdose last March. The centre was getting a lot of bad publicity with family members saying it was easy for Brandon to get contraband drugs within three days of entering treatment.
But investigations by both the RCMP and the regulator – Vancouver Coastal Health’s Community Care Facilities Licensing authority – determined there were no contraventions of rules and regulations.
In fact, the facility had consistently maintained a low risk rating with no other critical incidents or any drug-related incidents reported since the facility was first licensed in 2004. Yet, the centre’s reputation was taking a beating.
CEO Melanie Jordan has much to say about what treatment is – and what it isn’t. Addiction treatment centres are not prisons or lockup. Clients have rights and freedom.
Accredited staff members treat people for many types of addictions including alcoholism and prescription drugs abuse. Root causes of addiction are addressed including mental health and physical issues. Melanie Jordan wanted to speak publicly about the tragic death in her facility and have a voice in the search for solutions to stop the unprecedented number of deaths caused by fentanyl.
She enthusiastically embraced the concept of being front and centre at a news conference to be held November 14th. A Media Advisory was sent out inviting reporters and videographers to attend.
As the news conference got underway, news cameras quickly swung to the doorway where three visitors had appeared: Brandon Jansen’s mother Michelle, her son Nicholas and her lawyer.
They politely listened as the news conference went forward with Melanie Jordan providing reporters with the written investigation reports that found her centre was operating within the regulations.
But her most important message was aimed at the government and the medical profession.
Staff at the centre had not been permitted to administer the opiate antidote naloxone and it was possible that could have saved Brandon’s life.
Since Brandon’s death, the centre has received permission to train staff to administer naloxone and the staff physician can treat clients with Suboxone that takes away the craving for opiates.
With more than a dozen news organizations present at the news conference, this important information was received by the public across Canada. The record was set straight. The way forward was articulated. The news went out – all at once.
And the voice of Brandon Jansen’s family was also heard. They held their own media briefing following the news conference so as much information as possible surrounding this tragic death would be in the public forum.
Melanie Jordan and the Sunshine Coast Health Centre have standing at an inquest into Brandon Jansen’s death scheduled for January. This will be another forum where voices will be heard.
This year’s BCAMA annual marketing agency panel did not disappoint. Expert speakers from top agencies provided a strong sense of what’s to come this year and created a healthy debate around what’s really going to be some of the key drivers. There was a ton of information relayed to the hundreds of branding and communications professionals in the audience. Here are few of the highlights we took away with us.
Speaker #1: Andrew McCarthy – President, Tribal Worldwide Canada
The theme of Andrew’s presentation was around using content to connect with consumers. Research has recently shown that 71% of consumers who have blocked ads have said they’d consider whitelist advertising if the content was decent. Basically, people hate bad advertising.
So, how do you increase the shareability of your content?
Relatability – your content must be relevant
Have a point of view – this will help streamline content and ensure it’s consistent and interesting
Findability – search rankings are key when it comes to content dissemination
Mobility – make sure your content is where your audience is hanging out
Likeability – it’s an obvious one but your audience has to want to genuinely share your content
Snack Time, the milk producers of Western Canada’s cartoon series, was shared as a successful campaign where all the above was put in motion.
Speaker #2 Kelly Stephenson – Director of Strategy, Creature Agency, Seattle
Kelly’s talk centred around the prediction that there will be a rebalance between data and “creative bravery”. Kelly acknowledged the importance of data but cautioned that often marketers can get so caught up in data that the ability to connect with consumers is lost. Her argument around brands not becoming too obsessed with data was effectively summarised when she said, “data looks backwards; insights look forwards.” Marketers need to consider data and use this to create consumer insights in order to produce relevant and creative narratives that will increase the value of the relationship between brand and consumer.
An example used to highlight this argument was REI and its decision to shut up shop for the day on Black Friday and encourage its followers to #optoutside. REI chose to prioritize its shared values with its Millennial audience, putting a short-term need (a lot of revenue on Black Friday) behind the longer-term relationship. It was a smart move as the retailer generated millions of media impressions and a significant amount of content and engagement around #optoutside.
Speaker #3 April Yao – Senior Account Manager, 6S Marketing & Sheng Li Digital
April got up on stage and immediately said she had to disagree with some of Kelly’s points as 6S still uses and responds to data to ensure successful client campaigns that are closely tracked and clearly show ROI. April primarily presented on two topics: retargeting (also known as remarketing) and marketing to the Chinese population. April discussed the virtues of retargeting and dynamic remarketing (getting specific products that someone has already looked at on your brand website in front of the user when they are viewing another site). She said that, if you follow the cost per click (CPC) model, you’ll see the value quickly.
On the Chinese front, April said that approx. 20% of the Vancouver population is Chinese and encouraged the marketers in the room not to forget this growing market which often has high spending power. She talked about some of the equivalent Chinese social sites such as Youku (video),Baidu (search), and Weibo (think Twitter and micro-blogging).
April gave the example of Cirque du Soleil and how they were selling tickets fast in the English-speaking Vancouver community but not in the Chinese community. Through a Weibo contest, creating a Chinese landing page and a retargeting campaign, Cirque saw a significant increase in its ticket sales. Her final point on this community was that ethnic markets shouldn’t be forgotten but they also require their own distinct strategy.
Finally, Dan Scherk took to the stage to discuss the importance of brands adopting a user-centric approach in their marketing campaigns. He talked about how social marketing in particular has proven how brands cannot be organization-centric and that they have to prioritize user needs. Using his psychology background, he delved into social marketing behavioural theories and touched upon reasoned action approach, a benchmark for understanding and predicting human behaviour. Dan emphasised the need for marketers to tap into consumers’ beliefs, showing how that would impact attitudes which would in turn formulate intentions and lead onto certain behaviours.
The last case study of the morning was an interesting one: it was the “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign that was launched by Metro in Melbourne, Victoria. The cartoon campaign series was focused on reducing the number of accidents on its trains. Based on this, it was extremely successful and resulted in a 20% reduction in accidents. The campaign won top industry awards and was hailed a great success by many. But it was viewed as a failure by others. Why? In the real world, the true issue was suicide. So, a successful user-centred approach would have been around suicide prevention. Instead, the brand took an organizational approach and focused on an issue that was not the real problem.
Finally, the panel moderator, Claire Booth of Lux Insights, said that, while #FOMO (fear of missing out) was a real thing last year, this year, it’s apparently going to be all about #FOLO (fear of living offline).
Peak Communicators was recently engaged by a well-established successful Canadian-based company selling internationally. The management group was in a quandary: they no longer knew who they were and where they fit in the marketplace.
The capable managers felt the company’s culture had gone flat, its messages were out of date and they were drifting.
They didn’t know who they were, who they wanted to be, where they were going and why they made a difference.
There was a strong feeling that the thousand plus employees had lost the fire in the belly to forge ahead in a changing marketplace and sales environment. Some new conquests were needed.
In short, they no longer knew what their story was or how to tell it. They wanted a motivational story to provoke change.
A story is a narrative describing an event or series events. It’s not a sales pitch for a product or service.
To resonate, a story must have three strong elements: emotion – information – call to action.
Peak facilitated a strategic brainstorming session with senior managers to unlock information. We developed the topics to be communicated and then filled those buckets with messages. Working with the managers, messages were refined into three key messages per topic.
Change is making somebody or something different. For this company, it had to be positive change toward a clear vision and direction. And it had to be exciting. They wanted a new story to lead the process for change.
Questions asked included:
How do you see yourselves? Your products?
Why do you do this?
How do customers see you? Your products?
What is your ultimate product or value proposition?
What does change look like to you?
Where do you see yourself in one year? Two years? Five years?
What would success look like?
A remarkable amount of information tumbled forth during the half-day session. It was an opportunity to re-evaluate, redefine and set a new direction.
The new course should be established by analyzing the data established by the topics and defined by the key messages.
These topics and key messages became the guideposts for all communications: internal for employees, contractors and suppliers – external for customers, prospects and key influencers.
They are also the outline for THE story or stories that everyone can tell.
A communications plan should be a next step to guide communicating the exciting new messages that will give new purpose to employees and renewed motivation for business development and growth.
According to a telephone survey conducted by NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators, twenty-seven per cent of residents in the Lower Mainland claim they will attend this year’s Honda Celebration of Light festival. The survey was conducted on July 22nd and 23rd amongst 400 participants from Vancouver and across the Lower Mainland.
Twenty-seven per cent is a significant number considering it doesn’t include tourists or residents who are planning to attend multiple shows. The survey further indicates 90 per cent awareness of the festival, with 80 per cent of participants maintaining a favourable impression of this popular Vancouver event. Furthermore, sixty-three per cent of participants stated they had attended the event at least once in the last five years.
“This shows a strong interest in the festival, which has become an iconic Vancouver tradition and one of the most popular fireworks displays in North America,” says Brian Owen, CEO of NRG Research Group. “With the high level of awareness and support indicated by the survey, this year’s event could well attract record crowds.”
The survey has a confidence interval of +/- 4.9 per cent 19 times out of 20. It is weighted to be represented by age, gender and whether the participant is from Vancouver or elsewhere in the Lower Mainland.
For further details, check out the Global BC article or listen to the News 1130 interview with Brian Owen below.
Peak has been announced as finalists in the 2013 Ragan PR Daily Awards. Ragan’s awards are regarded as some of the most prestigious in the PR and communications industry worldwide. They recognize excellence in employee communications, corporate, nonprofit and agency PR and marketing, social media and digital PR, executive communications, health care PR and marketing.
The Ragan PR Daily Awards have received notable recognition throughout the industry and attracted respected PR firms from around the globe. The team at Ragan has stated they are “blown away” by the number of exceptional entries put forward.
Given the volume of competition, Peak is delighted to be announced as finalists in three categories for the PR Daily Awards and the team highly anticipates the winner announcements in late June.
Peak has been declared finalists in the following two award categories, and our client, Avigilon, has been shortlisted as well;
Best Crisis Management – Traditional Media
For Canada West Veterinary Specialists (CWVS)
Best Fitness/Health Campaign – Community Relations/Special Campaigns
For the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA)
Best Client of the Year – Talent
“We’re extremely happy with our achievements so far,” says Charlotte Sherry, Account Director at Peak Communicators. ”Our team of PR specialists has worked tirelessly over the past 12 months to deliver creative campaigns. We are delighted to have made the finalist list.”
Today Business in Vancouver (BIV) released its annual list of the “Biggest public relations firms in B.C.,” ranking Peak as the largest locally-owned PR firm in the province and the overall fifth biggest PR firm in B.C. this year.
The 2013 BIV list marks Peak’s third year ranked as B.C.’s largest locally-owned firm since its founding in 2003.
“2013 has been a significant year for Peak so far with our 10 year anniversary, new international clients, expansion of our service offerings and a number of new team members,” says Managing Partner Ross Sullivan.
The “Biggest public relations firms in B.C.” list ranks firms based on the number of B.C. public relations staff in a given year. In 2013, international/national firms Edelman, NATIONAL Public Relations, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Fleishman-Hillard were named the four biggest PR firms in B.C. with teams ranging from 18-49 members in size.
Peak hosted its annual birthday party last night but this year was juuust a little more special than years’ past. Time has flown and, incredibly, 2013 marked 10 years for Peak!
Over the last decade Peak has grown into the largest Vancouver-based PR agency and we wanted to celebrate our success together with our clients and friends, without whom the last 10 years would not have been possible.
The party was held at Coast’s O-Lounge, located just around the corner from Peak’s headquarters on Robson. Nearly 80 guests—from clients to media to partner agencies and consultants—came out to toast our next 10 years with wine, beer and delectable appies.
You can check out more photos at Peak’s Facebook page. Thank you again to everyone who joined us—here’s to the next 10 years!
Seventy-two per cent of Canadians do not have strong feelings towards celebrating Valentine’s Day according to survey results out today. The on-line survey of 1,000 Canadians by Research Now, NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators was completed between February 8 and 9, 2013 utilizing the Research Now panel surveying Canadians across the country.
The survey results, which come the day before Valentine’s Day, also found that 27 per cent of Canadians met their Valentine’s date through family or friends compared to only seven per cent meeting through on-line dating.
“Canadians aren’t overwhelmingly excited about Valentine’s Day” says Brian Owen, CEO and founder of NRG Research Group. “The vast majority of us will celebrate the day depending on our mood and significant other.”
The poll revealed interesting dating trends, finding that 16 per cent of females 35-54 years old are more likely to meet their Valentine at a club or bar than the eight per cent of all respondents. Younger males were more likely to meet their valentine on line.
The survey of 1000 people was conducted in both official languages and provides results with a reliability coefficient of +/- 3.2 per cent 19 times out of 20.
Q1: Which of the following statements best describes your opinion regarding Valentine’s Day?
• One in four respondents view Valentine’s Day as very special.
• Older respondents, particularly males, are more likely to view it as “extra special”.
• Almost no-one, (2%), hates the day and tries to avoid it.
Q2: Where did you first meet your significant other, partner or spouse that you will be spending this Valentine’s Day with?
• More people (27%) met the person they will be spending Valentine ’s Day with through friends or family.
• Younger males (16%) are more likely to meet their Valentine person at school than other groups (9%) are; females 35-54 (16%) are more likely to meet their Valentine at a club or bar than the average respondents (8%).
• Overall 7% of people, met their Valentine through an online dating service. Males under 55 were more likely to use online dating services than others.
Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians have no interest in the two sides reaching an agreement in the National Hockey League dispute, according to survey results out today. The telephone survey by NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators was completed between December 11th and 16th in six regions across Canada. It includes the responses of 801 individuals.
The survey results, which come out a week after the NHL announced the cancellation of games through to December 30th, also found that 25 per cent of Canadians don’t believe the lockout will be resolved in time to salvage a season.
“Canadians are clearly becoming disillusioned with the dispute process,” says Brian Owen, CEO and founder of NRG Research Group. “A large majority of us either don’t care about a settlement or don’t see an end in sight to the negotiations.”
The poll found small pockets of optimism, with 15 per cent of Albertans believing a settlement could be reached in the next couple of weeks and 15 per cent of Quebecers believing a settlement would be reached in the New Year.
The survey was conducted in both official languages. A survey of 801 people provides results with a confidence interval of +/- 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.