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Ostrich Response Nets Taber Trio of International Awards
It turns out that bird is indeed the word- the Town of Taber is pleased to announce that its “Flightless Birds for Foodbanks” response to the escaped ostrich situation in November 2022 spearheaded by Meghan Brennan, Communications and Projects Coordinator has received international recognition, resulting in the municipality earning three prestigious awards.
Ms. Brennan's efforts have earned her a Gold Hermes Creative Award in the Media Response category, a Communitas Award for Excellence in Community Service: Making a Difference, and the Platinum MarCom Award, also in the Media Response category. All three accolades are administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals.
The Communitas Awards recognizes “exceptional businesses… who are changing how they do business to benefit their communities.” The Hermes Awards “honors the messengers and creators of the information revolution,” whereas the MarCom “honors excellence in marketing and communication.”
Following the ostrich escape, the Town’s official channels recognized the effort that went into capturing them, marking the occasion with a donation of turkeys to the Food Bank in the same amount as was assumed there were escaped ostriches. This response also capitalized on the thousands paying attention to the media coverage of the incident, challenging them to donate to their local food banks as well. The public’s reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and the coverage of the response crossed international borders as well.
As the Town’s first and only Communications Coordinator since 2015, Ms. Brennan has overseen the formation of the municipal communications program. She serves as the point of contact for media requests to the Town and is responsible for the majority of the Town’s public communications channels, amongst a number of other projects and initiatives. She serves in the Administrative Services Department.
Ms. Brennan notes that the way the Town conducts municipal communications has been changed by this particular response: “After the ostrich episode, we decided to mix things up in how we communicate with our community, seeing how the public responded so well to the humour of our response. Since November 2022, we've made a conscious effort to make our communications more fun and relatable, using humor and straightforward language when it fits the situation. This way, our residents can connect with us on a friendlier level while still getting the information they need. Our citizens’ response to our funnier information posts has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re thrilled to be continuing that trend in the future, where appropriate of course.”
These three awards are in addition to the 22 already awarded to Ms. Brennan as part of the Administrative Services Department since 2017.
“On behalf of Council, I would like to congratulate Ms. Brennan on being the recipient of three prestigious awards. The response to such a strange incident in our community was inspired and shows that Taber is willing to laugh at ourselves, regardless of the absurdity of the situation. This very bizarre ostrich western rodeo round up was very unique, challenging, entertaining, and involved many individuals trying to help recapture the escaped birds. Happy to also be able to participate, and donate 20 turkeys to our Taber Food Bank, turning this incident into a very positive and proactive end result.”
-Andrew Prokop, Mayor
"Meghan's creative approach to communication has been a breath of fresh air for our department. The Flightless Birds for Foodbanks initiative not only showcased her innovation but also highlighted her and the Town’s commitment to community engagement. Our department is immensely proud of her accomplishments and the positive impact it has had.”
-Kerry Van Ham, Administrative Services Manager
“It was important to me that the Town didn’t bury its head in the sand and seized this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Taber as both caring and willing to roll with the punches, no matter how strange the circumstances,” said Ms. Brennan, “Humour is inherently risky in government, but there is no reward without risk, so I am thrilled and thankful for the public’s reaction. I don’t believe I’ll ever see an event like this again in my career, but I’m thankful for the opportunity my team granted me to let my bird-brained idea take flight to offer a little levity to the situation. While the awards are a true honour to receive, my fondest achievement has been witnessing the public’s positive reaction and engagement with their local government.”
-Meghan Brennan, Communications & Projects Coordinator