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The Launch of the Alberta Volunteer Firefighters Recruitment and Retention Campaign




In light of DONOVAN’s recent Summit MEA win; we thought we would share this story.

We sent our Associate Art Director to the Alberta Fire Chiefs Annual General Meeting armed with a new recruitment and retention campaign for volunteer firefighters. He had a good time. The Fire Chiefs did too.

As told by Scott Steele.

Alberta Volunteer Firefighters Logo

Alberta Volunteer Firefighters Logo

After months of preparation, designing a brand, promotional video, multi-faceted campaign and toolkit for the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association, the time finally came to present the work to the Fire Chiefs of Alberta at their Annual General Meeting. I was confident in the material and proud of the campaign that we had developed in partnership with the AFCA but that didn’t stop my stomach from flipping upside down the morning of the conference.

It was raining the morning of June 11th, quite appropriate if you ask me, considering that the majority of fire chiefs in Alberta were in attendance for the conference over the weekend. I arrived at around 7:45 A.M. with laptop in tow and a funny feeling in my gut. I didn’t know how the campaign collateral was going to be received but I plunged ahead regardless.

Strolling into the conference hall at the Mayfield Inn and Suites, I was instantly relieved. The banners looked great. There was a table set up for the car decals, DVDs, and window decals. Posters were placed all around the room and every table had the Alberta Volunteer Firefighters logo as a centerpiece. The stage was set with seven giant standup banners and the large projector screen off to stage left. Peter Krich, one of the Alberta Fire Chief’s Executives, greeted me and we went over a few details of how the morning would play out.

It wasn’t long before attendees began flooding into the conference hall.

the Alberta Fire Chiefs Annual General Meeting

The Alberta Fire Chiefs Annual General Meeting

Peter spoke to the captive audience about the tools from previous years that were provided to the fire halls for recruitment and retention, and discussed their realization that in order to truly make a significant difference in recruitment and retention, they would have to get some outside help. He mentioned the necessity to partner with a marketing agency and gave a big nod to DONOVAN. He spoke with conviction and passion about the Volunteer Firefighters mark that our team had developed. He showed off the banners and how they could be used for conventions and presentations along with the car and window decals and how they can be applied. He explained the enduring value of the various collateral that when combined, creates a powerful promotional toolkit that can be used for recruitment across the province. The chiefs in attendance were hanging off every word and I began to get excited.

Peter then delved into the inner workings of the website and how it has a high potential to become a tool for not only information on being a Volunteer Firefighter but also how to become one, how and where to apply, what the requirements are and how volunteers can tell their stories. During this presentation, I was in the background going through the site on the projector for the conference-goers to follow along. A bit of a rumble began to rise amongst the audience as they turned to one another nodding in agreement to what Peter was saying.

The Alberta Volunteer Firefighters Website Design

The Alberta Volunteer Firefighters Website Design

At the end of the website presentation, Peter mentioned that there was one more tool left in the bag: the three-minute recruitment/retention video that our team put together in conjunction with AFCA and some very patient volunteer firefighters. Peter looked at me then nodded for me to hit play.

The video started up and silence went over the conference members. As it played through there wasn’t a single sound aside from the audio in the video. I was getting a little nervous about how it was going to be received. The purpose was to make a recruitment video that showed off the dual lives of volunteer firefighters and display how they go above and beyond in the line of duty. We used a particular theatrical technique that touched on the gritty realism of what life looks like in the field. Would the audience understand the duality concept, living two lives? Would it be powerful enough in the end?

As the video came to a close and I glanced up at Peter, and he gave me a funny look. He put the microphone up to his mouth to say something but it was too late. Every single person in the hall got to their feet and started applauding. A few people threw their fists in the air and some of them even whistled.

Peter finished his speech and then opened up the floor for questions and comments. A guest at a nearby table took the mic and said that this was the best work that the AFCA had ever provided. It was then explained that everyone in attendance would be able to take some of the collateral back to their fire halls and start spreading the word. Everyone lined up at the table clamoring to get their posters, decals, and DVDs.

The volunteers that took time out of their days to help on this project need to be commended for their patience and excellent attitude throughout the process. With such an enthusiastic and successful start to our relationship, I eagerly look forward to working the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association as we move into the next stage of the project.

Scott Steele is the Art Director at DONOVAN. Comments on this post or suggestions for future topics are welcome.

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