Client: Prosperity Edmonton

Less (tax) is more

The project

Prosperity Edmonton is a coalition of non-profit industry associations, property managers and local business advocates. For 10 years straight, they had watched Edmonton’s property tax rates rising at a rate much higher than population growth plus inflation, combined.

With the City of Edmonton preparing to set its budget for the next 4 years, our client had a window of opportunity to make the City understand the negative impact of tax hikes, and convince them to limit further increases.

Goal

Persuade the City of Edmonton to limit property tax increases.

Results

The City settled on a tax increase 21% lower than what they initially proposed, an impact that saved our clients millions.

Key insights

Nobody likes a long list of complaints, and governments receive them constantly. To get meaningful engagement from the City, we couldn’t just start hurling criticisms and demanding that they fix the problem—we needed to offer some solutions and start a productive dialogue.

We also needed to engage and inform Edmontonians about commercial taxation—a complex issue most people rarely consider in detail, and that isn’t generally considered fun to learn about. We needed simple, engaging ways to help people understand the problem and why it matters for every Edmontonian.

Berlin Communications is an excellent choice for any organization looking for expert advice on media and public relations. They combine a high level of organization with a unique knowledge of the local political and media landscape. I have worked with them many times and can attest wholeheartedly to the high quality of their work.

Anand Pye, Executive Director, NAIOP Edmonton (primary client contact, Prosperity Edmonton campaign)

Results

198 letters sent to City Council

In-Person Meetings with the Mayor and every City Coucillor

21% Reduction to final approved tax increase

  • The mayor and all city councillors engaged with the campaign and met with our client.
  • Local news outlets covered the campaign and pushed the mayor and City Council for comment on the issues it raised.
  • The questions we urged City Council to consider around possible cost savings were discussed during budget deliberations.
  • The final tax increase was 2.6% instead of the proposed 3.3%.
  • Prosperity Edmonton and City Council kept in touch after the campaign to discuss issues that affect Edmonton’s business community.

Our toolkit

Face-to-face meetings

We advised our client to meet with city councillors directly, and provided them with a messaging framework to guide them in those meetings. This gave them a chance to have honest discussions about their concerns and share what they thought the City could do to help.

Printed collateral

To help make our case with key audiences, we created a simple, striking print piece, which laid out the facts and figures in plain language, and outlined some possible cost-saving solutions.

Media relations

To carve out a place for our client’s perspective in public discourse, we distributed media releases that generated significant media coverage.

Explainer videos

We made a video series using simple, familiar analogies (like board games and packing for a camping trip) to illustrate how commercial taxes worked, why the ongoing increases were a problem, and how the problem might be solved.

Narrative videos

We put real faces to the issue by featuring some of the business owners who were struggling to keep up. We created a video series in which they shared their personal stories of how tax increases had impacted their businesses and their livelihoods.

Website & letter campaign

We created a campaign website that included the same information as the print piece prepared for City Council. The website included a tool that let visitors send their City Councillor a message stating their concern about proposed tax increases.

Awards

  • 2019 IABC Award – Communication Skills, Audio Visual
  • 2019 ACE Award of Distinction – Advertising Video Series

Project credits

  • Justin Archer Senior PR Consultant
  • Pete Nguyen Art Director
  • Erin Nagy Graphic Designer
  • Emily Keating PR and Media Relations Support
  • Andrea Monterroso Account Manager
  • Colleen Nuc Video Producer
  • James Murgatroyd Website Developer

Services Provided

  • Advocacy Campaigns
  • Design & Production Services
  • Public & Media Relations