By Andrea Jastrebski
In the coming months, case studies on delivering top-notch communications strategies during a pandemic are likely to make up some of your reading material. One company doing the COVID-19 communication strategy well is Tervita Corporation (Tervita).
Tervita’s 2020 strategy has all the elements of a textbook communications strategy while doing a super job of balancing very real human demands of working during unprecedented times. In an interview with Kelly Sansom, manager of communications and marketing at Tervita, she highlighted the point that their revised 2020 strategy looked first to their three core values – we are one, we are proud, and we care. The company values applied to the team as they strategized and then just as swiftly went to work for the rest of the stakeholders as each piece of communication went out.
Kelly explains, “The situation was changing quickly, so talking to our stakeholders frequently became a top priority. We (the Tervita team) recognized it was important to be consistent with facts to all groups, and transparent about what we did and didn’t know so we could remain adaptable.”
Kelly shared that adaptability is at the forefront of the Tervita communications strategy. It’s one of the key catalysts changing how the communications and marketing team works now and will work in the future. Kelly explained, “We adapted how we communicate by expanding on our existing platforms, channels, and technology and by doing this, we found that we will have more opportunities to communicate with stakeholders going forward.” Broadening how we used our channels presented benefits to the business and made connecting and collaborating easier, mentioned Kelly. As practitioners, we know that a strategy is doing its best work when it can help provide value, like the example, to the business.
A key communications component was to build upon already understood language and concepts to reinforce expected behaviors. So they decided to develop COVID-19 Absolutes, which builds upon their already established Safety Absolutes. Tervita’s Safety Absolutes provide clarity about the standards and expectations of how high-risk tasks will be completed. Tervita took this well understood concept and expanded it into what they called COVID-19 Absolutes. They are a list of 10 precautions that can help stop the spread of the virus and reduce potential exposure.
In talking to Kelly, I noticed another way that Tervita is doing communications strategy well. She highlighted that the senior leadership team at Tervita weaved Tervita’s core values into a thank you kit that everyone in the company received. I think that sometimes it’s the lived experiences that help land messages and Tervita’s kit offering safety (including a mask, a sticker of the COVID-19 Absolutes etc.), a thank you for standing by the company while it works through this challenge, and a symbol of deep care stood out as a well-delivered message.
One thing consistent in 2020 is that messages are at our fingertips more than in the past. Kelly and I agree that this is a positive for the future of the communications field. Kelly explains, “The comms and marketing team at Tervita has been highly visible during this time, and we have had the benefit of working with more of the business in ways that are adding much more value to the business.” Achieving greater reach with our comms shops is a positive outcome of all of this. While it may seem that now is a time that everything is standing still, my little voice inside is saying just the opposite, and all I can hear is we’re now in a time of growth.
To paraphrase Kelly’s words, strategies going forward will be expanded and will have more reach with new stakeholders, new platforms, new learnings, and new opportunities to add value to our organizations and the organizations we support. This is an exciting time for communications.
Thank you, Kelly, for sharing highlights of Tervita’s communications strategy – the pandemic edition. Your words inspire.