Q4 2019 in Review

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Lousy grammar notwithstanding, HKA has been applying this proven catchphrase for many years to the Oliver Halsell Care Awards presented by Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary (Santa Ana) and Fairhaven Memorial Services (Mission Viejo).  Now a heartwarming annual tradition that generates considerable community buzz, HKA proudly created this signature program in 2012, and we have just as proudly helped to implement it each year ever since.

Every November, at an intimate awards dinner at the Mission Viejo location, deserving caregivers are surrounded by family, friends and co-workers who salute their favorite honoree for going above and beyond basic job descriptions to serve with the utmost care and compassion.  Oliver Halsell Care Award recipients are often home health care workers, therapists, nurses, social workers, clergy or community volunteers. Regardless, they all are unsung heroes – typically receiving an award for the first time.  Rarely is there a dry eye in the house, and that includes us.  2019 was no exception.

In the months leading up to the late-year ceremony, HKA creates media opportunities as each caregiver is nominated and selected as an honoree.  Their stories are shared with local press and via social media.  When the ceremony nears, HKA shifts to event management mode, inviting honorees and local dignitaries, securing recognition certificates and plaques, building the run of show, creating printed materials, writing scripts, procuring crystal awards and overseeing photography.

The work on this program certainly is challenging but significantly more rewarding, and year after year we are reminded there’s no need to fiddle with something that’s become so genuinely beloved by the Fairhaven staff, plus the dozens of caring individuals who have been honored over the last eight years.

You Win Some, You Newsom

As a full-service marketing communications agency, we take great pride in helping clients succeed beyond traditional public awareness and media relations functions.  In many cases, key initiatives happen outside the public eye, and our role becomes much more targeted and strategic.

The nonprofit Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT), which constantly engages with the public in its mission to produce high-quality affordable housing in Orange County, also pursues statewide legislative objectives that benefit millions of Californians. To support the nonprofit’s role advocating for the passage of a major affordable housing bill – SB-196, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in October – HKA assumed a critical government-relations function.

First, when SB-196 was being held in a committee, HKA secured a significant media story in The Registry about the measure’s intent to stimulate affordable housing development. Then, we leveraged it with the appropriate audience: those who would be voting on it in order to get it to the governor’s desk. HKA built a list of email addresses, including every assembly member and senator, and deployed a targeted, compelling e-blast, educating recipients on the benefits of SB-196.  The e-blast showcased the media placement, which provided a third-party validation.

Once SB-196 was released from the committees and passed by the full legislative chambers, HKA launched a second communications wave in the form of a letter-writing campaign to urge the governor to sign the bill. The agency drafted letters on behalf of the ICLT and got them into the hands of community leaders and affordable housing advocates, who would sign the letters and forward them to the governor.

The strategy worked, and on Oct. 9, 2019, SB-196 became the law of the land. Now, community land trusts across the state are eligible for development incentives that will protect some of the most vulnerable residents in those cities.

Very Im-PRESS-ive

HKA is immensely proud to support Dignity Memorial – an organization known for its longstanding foundation of kindness, compassion and empathy.  Our work runs the gamut and spans a dozen Dignity Memorial locations in Orange and San Diego Counties.  Each facility delivers valuable services to the community, plus an occasional story that piques media interest.  While major headline-making news stories happen only occasionally, lightning struck twice in Q4, and we were ready and eager to build the buzz.

In October, Westminster Memorial received international attention when the remains of 81 “lost soldiers” from the Vietnam War were flown to Orange County amidst tremendous fanfare. Thousands of local Vietnamese attended an emotional memorial service that preceded the burial of the South Vietnamese soldiers at Westminster Memorial. They had been shot down and their remains were in limbo. Coordinating with government officials in Washington, D.C., HKA delivered media coverage in national news outlets, including Associated Press, Stars & Stripes and U.S. News & World Report. Prominent local newspapers, including Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, covered the event, along with Los Angeles-area television news affiliates.

A few months after swarms of media descended upon Westminster Memorial, Fairhaven Mortuary and Memorial Park in Santa Ana experienced a media event of its own.  For the first time in the facility’s 109-year history, a couple asked to marry in a graveside ceremony. At first, Fairhaven officials resisted. But soon, everyone understood the importance to the bride. Her grandfather always promised to walk her down the aisle, but he died before she was ready to take those steps. Getting married literally on top of his burial site was the solution for her – and everyone agreed. The news media agreed, too. HKA enticed television news crews from KABC, KNBC and Telemundo to the big event, and the agency also secured a front-page Los Angeles Times article.