Case Studies

Saskatoon Community Clinic

Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition

Strategy | Writing | Design | Media Relations

This is a campaign that is worthy of note because it was undertaken with meager resources, but eventually became the provincial governing party’s biggest campaign promise of the last election.

The Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) consists of a large cross section of disability advocates, consumers and organizations across the province who are committed to advocating for a better income support system. For years DISC had been working with the provincial government to increase funding for people with disabilities living on social assistance. Although there had been some commitment from the government to proceed, very little action had taken place. DISC approached us to create and implement a communications strategy that would apply pressure on the government, but at the same time not create a backlash against the groups.

We developed a communications plan that encouraged a dialogue between DISC and the provincial government, yet applied pressure through media relations and targeted advertising. With meager resources, we created a media conference, which allowed members of the media to experience a specific disability, ride a Paratransit bus, and visit with a family living in poverty and coping with multiple disabilities. We also developed letters to the editor, arranged for spokespeople on various talk shows, and advertised on various radio, newspaper and digital outlets. During the election campaign, we developed a DISC-specific campaign package which encouraged members to discuss the issue with local candidates.

The end result was that this became an election promise by the governing party. Since that time, the government has increased both the amount of funding and the number of people living with disabilities who are eligible to receive that funding.

Saskatchewan Cancer Agency

Qualitative Research | Writing

Benchmark Public Relations was contracted by the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency to lead focus group sessions in the Sunrise Health Region to understand why women in the area were not receiving regular pap tests. We held two focus groups to help identify effective ways to compel women to be screened and effective ways to engage care providers to offer drop-in Pap test clinics on a regular (cyclical) basis. We identified 21 key findings from these focus groups including a review of barriers that prevented women from receiving tests; factors that encouraged them to seek testing; and a discussion on the reasons why there is a lack of information in this area. The information gathered during the sessions was used to develop a promotional campaign encouraging women to schedule regular pap tests. The material was also used to try to reduce the barriers that were preventing women in Saskatchewan from participating in the cervical cancer prevention program.

Based upon our success in this area, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency subsequently contracted Benchmark to conduct research on prostate cancer. This was a more difficult project as there are more variables involved in prostate cancer than in cervical cancer. We held focus groups with men from the general public, general practitioners, and prostate cancer specialists. Rather than holding focus groups with prostate cancer patients, who may have been reluctant to discuss their experiences in a group setting, we held personal interviews with 10 cancer patients. Our research led to more than 50 key findings and action items for the agency to pursue.


Saskatoon Community Clinic

Sask Sport Inc.

Strategy | Research | Writing | Aboriginal Engagement

Benchmark Public Relations provides on-going communications support for Sask Sport Inc. and works closely with a number of provincial sport organizations, all of which have a role to play in the development of active, healthy people. We were selected to assist Sask Sport Inc. to develop the communications plan to complement its Aboriginal Sport Development Strategy, Building a Foundation for the Future. The primary objective of the strategy was to increase Aboriginal participation by having Sask Sport Inc. staff work closely with key stakeholders to encourage and support participation in sport. The strategy was also intended to support alternative recreational programs for those who choose not to pursue competitive sports.

This communications plan assisted Sask Sport through three general communications strategies. It continued to build upon the success already achieved by the staff and provincial delivery partners. The plan called for an enhanced relationship with the Aboriginal community by providing additional resource materials to leaders to promote the benefits of sport, participation and helping out. Many organizations realized the importance of increasing capacity within the Aboriginal community. To assist these organizations a toolkit was developed to engage the community while fostering the meaningful involvement of coaches, leaders, parents and athletes. A third component of our strategy was the creation of a Champions program, to identify and promote Aboriginal role models. Athletes, coaches, officials, and volunteers were profiled through a multi-media campaign to encourage others to participate.

This strategy was implemented through several initiatives including: backgrounder documents, success stories, website and newsletter copy, radio and print advertisements, creation of an “Aboriginal Champions” program, speaking notes and presentation materials.


Saskatchewan Music Conference

Event Management | Sponsorship | Writing | Design

Benchmark Public Relations has been chosen as the event organizer for four Saskatchewan Music Conferences (two in Saskatoon and two in Regina). This event is hosted by the Saskatchewan Choral Federation, Saskatchewan Band Association, Saskatchewan Music Educators Association, Saskatchewan Orchestral Association, and the Saskatchewan Music Festivals Association. This three-day conference features more than 30 workshops with presenters from across Canada and the United States, a luncheon concert, tradeshow, and evening awards banquet. Approximately 300 people attend the conference each year, and Benchmark administers all aspects of the conference on behalf of a volunteer working group of the five organizations.

This is an extremely challenging undertaking as our team is responsible for securing more than $30,000 in sponsorships, managing the trade show, making arrangements for all presenters, administering the registration, and ensuring that all music equipment (choral, band, and orchestra) are in the designated rooms at the appropriate times. This equipment also had to be moved by a large number of our staff between sessions to accommodate the needs of the various clinicians.

Benchmark develops a detailed questionnaire and comprehensive final report after the event. Our staff also attends a conference debriefing session the day after the conference to make recommendations for the following year.

Saskatchewan Health

Strategy | Research | Writing | Design

Benchmark Public Relations has been the lead communications agency for the Primary Health Care (PHC) branch of Saskatchewan Health as it develops a new approach to health care in the province. We have been with this project since the report, Patient-Centred, Community Designed, Team Delivered, Saskatchewan's new Framework for primary health care, was drafted in 2012. We helped develop the initial communications plan and revised it during the second phase when was it was rolled out to the regional health authorities and other health stakeholders.

We started this project by attending meetings of the steering committee that was responsible for developing the new approach to primary health care. We reviewed the draft Framework document and helped facilitate discussions with key PHC members on the best methods to communicate this new framework. We also conducted a stakeholder assessment with the branch and reviewed the best methods to communicate with them. We created a PHC communications committee consisting of members from both the PHC branch and the Communications branch of Saskatchewan Health.

Our strategy focused on the benefits of the PHC redesign. Each stakeholder group received messages that appealed to their motivations. For physicians, for example, the emphasis was on an improved quality of life through better time management. For patients, it was on better service and greater control of their personal health care. The communications strategy matched the different phases of the redesign: the framework development, re-affirmation, pilot project, and general roll-out. During the re-affirmation phase, the majority of the communications took place on a direct contact basis. Spokespeople were identified for the target audiences, and they received appropriate supporting materials such as a stock presentation, questions and answers, and a Highlight document from the Framework. Feedback was received in the form of information obtained during the presentations, through email, and via the telephone.

A regular email newsletter was developed which provided on-going communications with key stakeholders, presented updates on various aspects of the campaign, documented success stories, provided information on overcoming challenges, and addressed any other issues as they developed. Additional feedback was solicited and monitored through email and the newsletter, and whenever necessary, changes in either the communications strategy or the implementation strategy were made. As PHC teams formed and experienced success, these achievements were documented through stakeholder consultations, email, telephone, website and by monitoring RHA newsletters and communications tools. Saskatchewan Health also worked closely with its stakeholder network and used their communications tools to promote the successes and benefits of the redesign.


Saskatoon Community Clinic

Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association

Strategy | Issues Management | Qualitative Research | Writing

In 2012 the Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association (SATVA) had reached a crucial point in its development. It had grown from an idea in 2006 to a not-for-profit organization with eight member clubs and approximately 200 members, as well as a full-time executive director. It had made significant strides since its inception, including liability and indemnity insurance; safety training; on-line resources; and an ATV display. Club members had worked hard to develop their own trails and organize events, programs and services, which protect the environment, instill family values, promote responsible ATV use, and provide a unified voice for ATV users in the province.

Despite these successes, the ATV community in Saskatchewan remained in its infancy. ATV fatalities were at an all-time high. There were tourism and economic development opportunities that remained unrealized. There was a lack of dedicated trails for users and an increasing animosity between the snowmobile and ATV communities on the use of shared trails. SATVA’s financial future remained uncertain. The image of ATVing in the province remained poor with the public complaining about environmental damage caused by a certain segment of the population. Rallies mainly served to compound this problem.

There were numerous challenges and opportunities within this sector. Like any undeveloped resource, it required time, energy, resources and a dedicated strategy to maximize these opportunities and overcome the challenges. Benchmark was contracted to review this situation and create a business plan to begin the steps to develop this sector.

After initial consultations with the Executive Director, Benchmark conducted a comprehensive literature review on existing SATVA materials, including promotional brochures, grant applications and follow-up reports, newsletters and its website. Other resource materials were consulted including economic impact studies, Canadian Off Highway Vehicle Distributors Council resources, and Tread Lightly information. This review also contained an analysis of other jurisdictions including British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.

Benchmark staff held club consultations with members in Aylsham, Big River, Archerwill, St. Walburg, Regina, and Esterhazy. There were a total of 51 people who attended these consultations. Following these consultations, individual interviews were held with key stakeholders from the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport; the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association; Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association; and the Canadian Off Highway Vehicle Distributors Council.

The information from the literature review, club consultations and personal interviews was analyzed by Benchmark. We identified 16 recommendations for the association which provided the basis for a strategic plan for the association.

Saskatoon Community ClinicSaskatoon Community Clinic

Strategy | Writing | Design

We were approached by the Saskatoon Community Clinic to develop a communications plan to enhance their image in the community. After meeting with senior clinic officials, we embarked upon a series of focus groups involving members, board, and staff to provide us with baseline information on the clinic’s reputation and overall image with its stakeholders. We supplemented this data with key informant interviews involving senior staff and healthcare professionals. We also reviewed all existing communications vehicles for the organization including its website, newsletters, brochures, annual report, posters, etc.

This information was analyzed and a number of communications issues were identified. The most critical was the separate identities that had been created by the downtown clinic and the Westside clinic, which lead to an overall weakening of the organizations’ brand. We created a strategic communications plan that was quickly endorsed by the communications department and senior staff as well as the board. We presented our findings at the annual general meeting and members agreed with the issues that were identified and the proposed solutions.

We are now in the process of working with the clinic to implement the communications strategy, which will result in a complete rebranding of the organization and its clinic locations.