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By Kristy Dixon

We’re profiling Calgary’s inspiring 2018 Gold Quill winners! To start the series, Kim Blanchette and Monica Hermary from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) share details on their project, Pipeline Performance in Alberta, which won an Award of Merit in the Government Communication Programs category.

Can you share a brief overview of your winning project?

Our project was to publicly release the AER’s Pipeline Performance Report, which provides information about the number of incidents each pipeline company in Alberta was responsible for in 2015 and 2016. The report was the first of its kind and the first in a series of reports that would be released under the AER’s industry performance program, which focuses on evaluating and reporting on industry performance and sharing more information with the public.

The objective of releasing the report was to demonstrate that the AER is open and transparent about how energy development is occurring, to improve industry performance, and to demonstrate how the AER’s efforts have helped reduce pipeline incidents.

What did you feel most proud of in this project?

We’re proud about this project because of all the hard work and dedication that everyone involved put in to help ensure a successful launch of the report—both within the communications team and the business area that we supported. It was truly a team effort.

We’re also proud because the business area we supported realized the value we provided. In preparation of the media event we were holding to release the report, we developed Q&As and held media training sessions with the presenters. After the event, the presenters were appreciative of all the support we provided to them and felt that they were prepared to answer all the questions they received because of our work.

The AER is Alberta’s full lifecycle energy regulator

What was a key challenge you faced with the project?

One of the biggest challenges we faced with the project was the timelines associated with the project and that it was stop-and-go. The project was put on hold after about two months of work because another report was being written that might have affected the Pipeline Performance Report.

After about five months of work being put on hold, our executive directed us to resume work, giving us less than two months to refine the communications strategy, verify all the data for the report, conduct internal and stakeholder engagement and develop materials to release the report.

What made this project creative or innovative?

Our communications strategy to launch the Pipeline Performance Report involved communicating to Albertans, media, pipeline companies, government and staff. The most creative approaches to communicating involved providing a webcast option for media that were unable to attend the media event in person and providing a communication toolkit to our frontline staff, which included key messages, email templates to help them share information about the report with their contacts, highlights from the report and Q&As.

Another piece we are proud of is that the project was rooted in research. Our annual survey indicated that the more information we shared about our work, the higher our performance and confidence scores were.

Albertans want the AER to be transparent and open, but to provide context with our data—to tell them what it means—and we used that research to demonstrate the value of the communications efforts to our executive through the evaluation phase.

How does winning a Gold Quill help your communications career?

Winning a Gold Quill is a significant accomplishment. It validates the work that we’re doing, and our ability to think strategically and develop communications strategies with good measurement—especially when being compared to other great communicators around the world.

Congratulations to this winning team that included Jennifer Wagner, Kaylen Gray-Wesley, Ken Bonnett, Aaron Dalton, Sarah Hamza, Steven Stalany, David Helmer and Jill Hume.

Finally, a huge thanks to Monica and Kim for their time responding to our questions!

To learn more about Gold Quill click here.

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