The 6th Annual Canadian Public Relations Society 2013 Manitoba Communicator of the Year Award Luncheon, was held at the Fort Garry Hotel on Wednesday.
The MCOY Award, honouring individuals and organizations that have demonstrated excellence in public communications, was given to Bill Peters, Manager of Communications & Media Services for St-Boniface Hospital Research Centre.
Peters was tasked with promoting the work of The Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, which works in partnership with the St-Boniface Hospital Research Centre. CCARM works to, “…add value to agricultural commodities and finished products through innovative functional food and nutraceuticals research,” a concept not easily digested by the public. Specifically, CCARM wanted to promote their research into the health benefits of pulse crops: peas, lentils and beans.
By chance, Peters noticed a Bulk Barn advertisement featuring a recreation of Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece “The Scream” made entirely from assorted nuts. Where most would only find the need for a salty snack, Peters found inspiration.
Peters and his assistant began constructing a portrait of Rowan Atkinson’s iconic character Mr. Bean–made entirely from several varieties of beans. With just $4 in materials and a few hours of painstaking work, Peters had created what would become a phenomenally successful marketing tool.
A photo of the completed portrait with the words “Consider the Bean” made its debut to an appreciative and receptive public at the “Ag in the City” event at The Forks Market. From there, the image began to spread quickly via local, national, and international news outlets, as well as social media. The recognition of the health benefits of pulse crops, and CCARM’s message of “Advancing Medicine through Agriculture,” spread with it.
The promotion was eventually endorsed by Atkinson’s management, and a promotional video that Peters had created was posted on the official Mr. Bean Facebook page. The page’s 20-million fans gave Peters’ promotion an additional boost, resulting in 8000 Likes on CCARM’s page, and over 35,000 YouTube views for the video.
“I’m not used to this kind of attention,” said Peters jokingly, shortly after his acceptance speech and a brief presentation explaining the project’s origins and impact.
“I think being a creative person you’re never satisfied with your latest project,” says Peters, “you’re always trying to do better next time. It’s like when I painted my rec-room; I know where the flaws are and that’s all I see. When we do these things, as excited as we are in the moment of doing it, we’re always trying to figure out ways of doing it better, or if I could do this again, what would I do differently. Ultimately, our job isn’t to promote our department, it’s to promote the science and the Research Centre. If we do that, and we did that in this case, we consider our job successful. But it’s kind of a fleeting moment. Everyone’s happy, but we get back to work on Monday and we’re trying something new.”
Selected by a panel of three CPRS members, the winner must have demonstrated creativity and strategic thinking in his or her work. The award is open to all sectors, including business, non-profit, politics, and more. A gift of $500 is also donated to a charity of the winner’s choosing. Peters selected the St-Boniface Hospital Research Foundation.
Commenting on the evaluation process, judge Clare MacKay of The Forks North Portage Partnership cited fierce competition this year, but Peters was a clear frontrunner. “In studying the entries, Bill quickly rose to the top,” said MacKay. “His ingenuity and the show of love for public relations, for what he did, through what he did, was palpable.”
Peters is already pouring his ingenuity and love for his work into a new project for SBRC.
“We’re always on to the next thing,” says Peters with a smile. “We’re working on a video now for the Research Centre and we’ve come up with an idea we hope will be viral – time will tell.”
For more information on St-Boniface Hospital Research, or The Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, visit sbrc.ca