By Sara Williscroft, ABC, CDMP

How do you make an Annual Report truly effective? Just ask Bridgette Slater and Cassandra McAuley at Tourism Calgary. This past year, Tourism Calgary’s 2018 Annual Report was awarded not one, but two awards: a 2019 IABC Silver Leaf Award and a 2020 IABC Gold Quill Award of Merit. 

Tourism Calgary’s successful 2018 Annual Report won both an IABC Silver Leaf award and an IABC Gold Quill Award of Merit.

We sat down with Bridgette to learn more about the project. Here’s what she told us:

Walk us through the project and what makes this Annual Report unique.

Six years ago, Tourism Calgary decided to challenge the norm and shift its annual report from a 10+ page document to a more concise and visually appealing format. 2018’s Report emulated a series of boarding passes encased within a matching envelope, creating a strong visual connection to the industry Tourism Calgary proudly serves.

What key factors formed the strategy? 

Past survey results indicated that Tourism Calgary’s 800+ stakeholders prefer when information about achievements and major projects is displayed in a concise and visually appealing way.  The boarding pass creative format allowed us to be concise with our information – in a way that met our stakeholders’ needs.

What were the project goals and how were they met? 

Tourism Calgary’s 2018 Annual Report aimed to maintain our reputation for transparency, while reporting on the information stakeholders find most important, and to effectively communicate 2018 activities and the value of Calgary’s tourism industry to Calgary City Council to promote ongoing and increased investment in the industry. 

A 2019 survey indicated 86 per cent of stakeholders agreed Tourism Calgary communicated what is most important to stakeholders. The organization was also provided increased 2019 funding from Calgary City Council, meaning we were successful in communicating the value of Calgary’s important tourism industry.

What can other communicators take away from the success of this project?

  • Know your audience. We defined our audience, asked them what they wanted and gave it to them. This was key to our success.
  • Most times, less really is more. Sharing your key messages through a few  well-crafted sentences will beat a 10+ page document any day. 
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative. Unique design elements aligned with your brand can really push your collateral to the next level with your audience. 

Bridgette Slater is a Communication Specialist at Tourism Calgary who leverages strategic communications plans, stakeholder engagement tactics, media relations and advocacy campaigns to communicate the value of Calgary’s important tourism industry to diverse audiences.  

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