Last month, at the BC Chamber Executives Conference in Parksville, the Summerland Chamber was honoured with the 2016 BCCE Communications Award for Chambers with more than 500 members.
We take our communications with our stakeholders very seriously and work hard to reach all our audiences. In addition to serving our 700+ members, the Summerland Chamber is also responsible for tourism and business retention and expansion activities on behalf of the District of Summerland.
Because of these multiple roles in the community, our communications activities are significant and we often use a different ‘voice’ to reach our varying audiences. We also won this award in 2013 and since that time we’ve made significant changes. In the spring of 2014 we completed a major project to separate our tourism information from our main Chamber site.
Tourismsummerland.com provided a new showcase for our many business members in the tourism sector and the activities and attractions that Summerland is known for. The site is rich in photos and text and provides a comprehensive directory of our tourism business members. We make significant investments in search engine optimization each year in order to attract visitors to the site. The site is supported by social media on the following platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In addition to various print media and the social media above, our tourism and communication staff is currently involved in a provincial pilot training project through Destination BC to enhance our social media efforts for tourism with an emphasis on Twitter.
In 2015 we were able to take on the project of re-doing our main Chamber website, www.summerlandchamber.com. Our goal was to put our 700+ members front and centre with a beautiful new business directory, which links from the main page of the website. This new site gives us the option to also include more pictures and videos and is supported by social media at facebook.com/SummerlandChamber and twitter.com/summerlandchmbr.
Our news pages link to monthly newsletters, the very popular Business Buzz which highlights the activities of our members, and also this blog. Through our economic development activities, we have partnered in the last two years with the District of Summerland to create a series of informative videos about business and investment opportunities in the community which can be viewed on our website or on our YouTube channel.
In March of this year, again partnering with the District of Summerland, we created a local shopping campaign to benefit our members called #discoverhome. This series of 10 videos has been shared through Facebook to Summerland residents as well as through Instagram and has received more than 40,000 views.
The Chamber is also responsible for a major event in Summerland called the Festival of Lights, held the last Friday of November. 2016 will be the 29th year the Chamber has presented the festival and it is the Okanagan Valley’s premier kick-off to the winter holidays.
The festival attracted almost 8000 visitors last year and is supported by its own website at www.summerlandlightup.com and on Facebook. We live in a world where the ability to communicate is key. A recent article in Forbes Magazine stated that ‘in order to innovate, it’s not enough to just come up with big ideas, you also need to work hard to communicate them clearly.’ The Summerland Chamber sincerely appreciates being recognized by our provincial peers for success in this area.