An Opportunity for the Community
Growing up in Saskatoon, Canada’s Ward 3 as the son of a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, Nick Sackville was instilled with a strong work ethic and strong ties to his community from day one. When the current Ward 3 councilor announced they would not seek re-election in the 2020 Saskatoon civic election race, Sackville recognized an opportunity to throw his hat in the ring. Driven by a passion for politics and growing tired of partisan politicians, Sackville was determined to take a chance to represent his Ward 3 neighbors and be a champion for the west side, which has been historically underserved in Saskatoon, the Bridge City.
This project presented an exciting opportunity for SymmetryPR, which wholeheartedly believes that two-way symmetrical communication between organizations (or people) and those they serve creates stronger, more caring, and more responsible communities. SymmetryPR is a Saskatoon-based, Indigenous public relations consultancy offering communications and marketing services to Saskatchewan and beyond. Founded by two ISO-certified Communications Management Professionals, Symmetry prides itself on fostering long-term partnerships and giving back to the communities it serves.
Recognizing and confident that Sackville wanted to be a true changemaker and champion for his neighbors, one who shares Symmetry’s values, SymmetryPR dived in to support this up-and-coming servant leader to create an authentic brand for Sackville that would resonate with Ward 3 voters, as well as a communication strategy that would engage them during a global pandemic. Picture a diverse group of target audiences, primarily ages 30–34, many new Canadians, many Indigenous and other people of color, many blue collar workers and many healthcare workers. This was no easy feat. We knew we had to appeal not just through a political platform that would resonate with our primary audiences, but also on a human and personal level. That’s how “Your Neighbourhood, Your Neighbour” was born.
We devised a robust strategy that relied heavily on a combination of digital tactics, socially distanced door-knocking, earned media and limited paid media, all on a shoestring budget. The most important piece was Sackville’s website for collecting voter information and providing a platform for dialogue with his neighbors through email, call or text, as well as Sackville’s campaign videos that revealed his humor, personal Ward 3 story and campaign priorities.
Ultimately, we took a virtual unknown and made him a household name in his ward, catapulting him into second place among eight other candidates in what ended up being one of the most competitive civic races in a very long time in the Bridge City.
“For others who may be considering submitting to the Gold Quill Awards, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and go for it.”
‘Be Vulnerable and Go For It’
Being recognized with an IABC Gold Quill Award of Excellence for Marketing, Advertising and Brand Communication validated the excellent work we knew we completed throughout the campaign. We were thrilled to receive this honor, which was later recognized by Muhammad Fiaz, a Regina Pasqua Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the Saskatchewan Legislature, as an example of an international success by an Indigenous business launched during a global pandemic. We could not be more proud of our work with Sackville. This was our first project as a public relations company, and it won us our first Gold Quill. Winning the Gold Quill Award has helped to demonstrate our value as strategic advisors who deliver measurable business outcomes.
For others who may be considering submitting to the Gold Quill Awards, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and go for it. It’s an incredible feeling when you win and you are recognized globally in your field. The Gold Quill is an outstanding professional accomplishment that will help advocate for our profession and elevate communicators to strategic roles at the heart of organizations.
Here are a few practical tips:
- Be concise and tell a story. Judges should not have to work to connect the dots or wade through more documentation than is needed to demonstrate your outcomes.
- Ensure you can show business outcomes and not just outtakes or outputs.
- Follow the application instructions to the letter — length, format and presentation matter.
- Start early! Strong applications take a lot of thought and time.
- Use the judges’ feedback. This experience is a learning opportunity — judges put a lot of thought and time into scoring entries and providing constructive criticism to help us all become better communicators.