Comms, Design, Marketing, Social, Strategy

Taking a new tack

Canada’s governing body for equestrian sport needed help communicating in the field. Now, clear messaging and strategic delivery has them back on course.

Equestrian Canada

The Ask

Make strides with our messaging

Equestrian Canada - the national governing body for equestrian sport and horse welfare - needed help communicating its commitment to the Safe Sport and Responsible Coaching movement. To help foster a safe environment for all coaches, athletes, and equines, Equestrian Canada (EC) needed to revamp and enforce its Coach Status Program with support from the Provincial and Territorial Sport Organizations. EC asked us to develop an effective communication plan and help implement the program in a digestible format nationwide. The organization was also in the midst of navigating staffing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they sought our expertise in revitalizing their social media presence while satisfying the communication needs of their various departments.


Perfecting the program

Our team spent a great deal of time understanding the equestrian industry, and most importantly - its community. It was essential that we familiarized ourselves with the EC audience and their sensitivities in order to develop a plan that was effective and well-received. A series of discovery meetings with EC’s communications team gave us valuable insights and direct access to industry experts who could provide a wealth of information from all angles. Once we had a thorough understanding of the Canadian equestrian world, we began to reimagine EC’s Coach Status Program from an entirely new perspective.

Our primary goal was to distill EC’s complex Coach Status program information into clear, simple language. We started by building an outline that differentiated the Coach Status options, with a visual timeline of the program’s phased enforcement. With a strong focus on the positive direction of the new Safe Sport standards, we developed a compelling narrative that became the basis of subsequent print collateral, infographics, and content for the EC website and social media channels.

Having these elements in place to launch the new version of EC’s Coach Status Program helped protect and improve EC’s brand reputation, and establish a clear understanding of the new initiative within their community.

Social Media

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Our work with EC during the Coach Status project brought about a valued partnership, and another request: the pandemic was putting a strain on EC’s communications department, and they needed expert help with their social media presence. They asked us to rethink their strategy, curate their day-to-day content, and manage their social reputation. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics only a few months ahead, we wasted no time getting things on track.

We started with a thorough audit of their social media channels, where we optimized their biographies and polished their cover images. We built on their existing brand with a series of fresh, enhanced custom graphics and developed content calendars for proactive planning. With several moving parts within their organization, we created structure by balancing the types of content shared across their platforms, while satisfying the communication needs of their various departments.

It became obvious that the EC audience craved event coverage, so we established that as the foundation of their social content. Canada’s top equestrian performances inspired some powerful stories that the EC audience loved to engage with. To successfully execute real-time coverage across the globe, our team worked closely with the EC grounds crew and photographers to gather the content we needed to create a buzz around the most impressive athlete performances. Live coverage was a new experience for the EC event team, but our detailed planning and open lines of communication made the process seamless.

Community Management was also at the top of EC’s social media priority list. With realistic goals in place, our team took the lead in decreasing customer response time and delegating comments and concerns to appropriate departments. Through social listening, we boosted brand equity by chiming in on relevant conversations, while monitoring social chatter and potential crises in the equestrian community.

Social Campaign

The #RideToTokyo 2020

In July 2021, our team had the honour of developing and managing EC’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic social media campaign. Familiar with the International Olympic Committee’s tight restrictions and guidelines from our past experience with CBC Sports and the Canadian Olympic Committee, we focused the campaign on three main goals:

Bring Canada together, virtually.
For the first time in the 125-year history of the modern Games, spectators were unable to attend Tokyo 2020 in person. While the Canadian Equestrian Team athletes stepped into the competition ring without a cheering squad in sight, they felt the support of our country in their hearts as overflowing messages and well-wishes flooded the various engagement pieces presented on social media during the Games.

Give credit where credit is due.
Making it to the Olympics is no easy feat, and the athletes we see on the big screen are just the tip of the iceberg. Every athlete is backed by an incredible support team who deserves the spotlight as much as the athletes themselves. Bringing these important roles to light inspires future generations of coaches, veterinarians, grooms, and equine care professionals.

Familiarize the stars - equine partners, included!
There’s nothing that gets people on the edges of their seats like cheering for an athlete they feel they know personally. From sharing athletes’ game-time rituals to the horses’ favourite snacks and personality quirks, it was important that EC’s audience felt they were on a first-name basis with all members of the Canadian Equestrian Team - both two, and four-legged!

While working around the clock to keep up with real-time events happening across the globe, we concentrated our efforts on being first out of the gates with the latest news on athletes representing the maple leaf. We expected the unexpected and amplified every happening to keep Canadian fans connected, engaged, and in the know.

Form & Affect jumped into the saddle and threw themselves into becoming equestrian experts. Not only are we incredibly grateful, but working with the entire team was an absolute pleasure from start to finish.

Manager, Communications Equestrian Canada

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