District Wins State Public Relations Awards

The Communications Department recently won state-level awards from the Florida Public Relations Association for two District campaigns.

The “Skip a Week” public service advertising campaign received an Award of Distinction in the Public Relations Programs — Public Service category, and the “Get Outside!” campaign received an Award of Distinction in the Public Relations Programs — Institutional category of the association’s Golden Image Awards competition.

The competition is conducted annually to recognize outstanding public relations programs in Florida. Winners must demonstrate the very best examples of innovation, planning and design as well as meet the highest standard of production, execution and evaluation of results and budget.

“Skip a Week” 

The “Skip a Week” campaign used integrated images and messages on multiple media to encourage residents to skip a week of watering in the winter.

The District purchased advertisements on local television and radio stations, in newspapers and magazines, and on media web sites, area buses, electronic billboards and IMAX movie previews. Radio and newspaper advertisements were produced in English and Spanish. At no charge, 20 government access television channels ran the District’s messages. Communications staff integrated the messages into a District web page and Facebook and Twitter accounts, and actors from the television commercials met shoppers at home improvement stores. Staff provided information to 1,330 homeowners associations and partnered with area utilities to distribute inserts in 435,000 utility bills. The campaign increased water conservation awareness by the public and contributed to a potential savings of more than 1.2 billion gallons of water during the 2009–2010 dry season.

“Get Outside!”

Staff from Communications and Land Resources departments developed the “Get Outside!”campaign to increase the public’s awareness of District lands. Staff conducted surveys to find out what the public knew about District lands; and then formed a strategy.

The District’s Recreation Guide to Southwest Florida Water Management District Lands and Recreation at a Glance publications and the corresponding recreation web page were completely redesigned to make properties easier to find. Special issues of WaterMatters Magazine and the WaterMatters.org Newsletter were published, and communications staff created a “Get Outside!” presentation for the District’s Speakers Bureau. Information kits were sent to 100 news media reporters and 450 hotels and motels, and buses in Hillsborough County provided free advertising space. Communications and Land Resources staff held a series of community events at the Starkey Wilderness Preserve’s Serenova Tract in Pasco County, the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve’s Hampton Tract in Polk County, and Deep Creek Preserve in DeSoto County.

As a result, the demand for the recreation guide tripled, and traffic to the District’s recreation web page increased by 54 percent. More than 650 visitors came to the “Get Outside!” events.

Communications also won a regional award for the “Get Outside!” campaign. The Tampa Bay Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association awarded District Communications staff with an Award of Distinction at its 2010 Image Awards in April.