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Going for the Gold: Three IABC Golden Flame Winners Share Tips for Award-winning Entries
By Anne Wainscott-Sargent, Special to IABC Atlanta
What do a “day-in-the-life” employee video series, an engineering technical summit and an aluminum can sustainability campaign all have in common?
They were 2015 winners of IABC Atlanta’s Golden Flame Awards. The professional communicators, Michelle Thernes with IHG, Kristi Burris with Amec Foster Wheeler, and Eric Berrios with Realm Advertising, each presented thoughtful and inspiring highlights of their gold-worthy communications programs during the February IABC Atlanta luncheon.
The timing has never been better to talk about the Atlanta chapter’s biggest awards event, given that that the Golden Flames will now be held in the fall to coincide with the IABC Southern Region Conference coming to Atlanta in October. That means communications pros will need to begin to plan their applications this spring to meet the summer submission deadline.
IHG: Bringing the Brand to Life through the Day-in-the-Life of Employees
Thernes started things out by discussing IHG’s Day in the Life video series launched in 2013 to support the company’s People Priorities – helping promote employee pride and engagement by celebrating front-line colleagues and their stories in each of IHG’s branded hotels. The hotel company of more than 350,000 employees worldwide has 1,600 employees in just its Americas headquarters office in Atlanta, Thernes said, adding, “We wanted to show real-life examples of outstanding team members to inspire those within our hotels, as well as our corporate colleagues, who are often disconnected from our front-line teams.”
“We took a strategic approach to show each employee as a whole person and show how each brand is unique. We followed the employee through key moments of their day,” she said, noting that every video had a direct alignment to IHG’s business priorities and “winning metrics.” IABC members then watched one of the videos featuring Fred Flood, maintenance engineer for the Staybridge Suites in Fargo, North Dakota.
Thernes said a key to the success of the campaign was “creating a series that would have multiple uses within IHG, from inspiration to training and recruiting.”
Amec Foster Wheeler: Inspiring Collaboration & Innovation through a Tech Summit
Burris next shared the process she went through in organizing a highly engaging summit for employees in her engineering consulting firm’s Environment & Infrastructure business based in the Americas. “We wanted to provide a hands-on experience and learning of best practices to increase engagement, collaboration and knowledge among our employees,” recalled Burris, who led the planning of the two-day event that attracted 250 employees the second week of November 2014.
At the meeting, 15 “rising stars” gave 15-minute presentations. A hands-on Innovation Expo highlighted several of the company’s patented technologies. She believes the cross-teaming that came from the meeting helped fuel first quarter 2015 results that showed a 22% increase in average project size and sales growth exceeding 110% of targets.
Realm: Starting a Sustainability Movement, One Beer Can at a Time
Berrios with Realm Integrated Marketing then shared his firm’s “big guy versus big guy campaign” to introduce a new and much more environmentally friendly aluminum can to beer makers. The product, marketed as evercan™ by client Novelis, the world’s largest recycler of aluminum cans, is made from 90% certified recycled materials while average cans today use only 30 to 40% recycled content.
The product, Berrios explained, would disrupt the market for aluminum cans and “should be the best thing ever introduced to the beverage industry.” The company first pitched major canners but they weren’t interested in a disrupting the current supply chain, and refused to share evercan with major beverage brands. That’s when Realm took the can to a specialty market – craft beer makers, who are very sustainability focused.
Over the one-year campaign, from 2014 to 2015, Realm Advertising strived to build brand awareness and “plant the seeds of a movement.” It piloted the program first with Red Hare Brewing Company in Marietta, Georgia.
“We educated the market through billboards, at tradeshows and direct mail – even sending a direct mail beer,” recalled Berrios, who admitted that this was his favorite campaign of his career. The goal was to build understanding and get people to engage in the conversation. The results were promising: four times’ the industry click throughs for ads related to evercan and four craft breweries chose to adopt the product.
Following their presentations, the speakers then shared these tips for creating a winning IABC Golden Flame entry:
- Understand and explain your target audience
- Set measurable goals and objectives
- Use the entry to tell your story in a way that is easy to follow and maintains interest
- Paint a compelling picture of the need and opportunity
- Share your outcomes /metrics – cite proof points of success
- Ensure your outcomes align with your goals and objectives
- Include strong visuals and/or work samples
- Conduct a peer-review of your entry
To learn more about IABC Atlanta and the annual Golden Flame Awards, visit the chapter website at https://atlanta.iabc.com/.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Wainscott-Sargent is an Atlanta-based communications strategist, storyteller and author. Find her online at http://annewainscott.com/writing-consulting-services/ or on Twitter @annewainscott.