Virtual President's Breakfast earns prestigious international award

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: FANSHAWE COLLEGE
The annual President's Breakfast occurs annually at the college and began in 2014, the year after Peter Devlin was appointed president of Fanshawe College.

The overwhelming success of Fanshawe College’s President’s Breakfast has earned a team at the college a 2022 Gold Quill Award of Merit from the International Associations of Business Communications (IABC).

The award recognizes the dedication, innovation, and passion demonstrated in business communications. The annual President’s Breakfast occurs annually at the college and began in 2014, the year after Peter Devlin was appointed president of Fanshawe College.

Fanshawe’s Corporate Communications Director, Elaine Gamble, has worked in her role for nine years, and was one of the people who helped execute the successful 2020 event that earned the award.

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“A big thing for any of these awards for the communications profession is to be able show you had a strategy, goals, and how you were able to achieve them,” said Gamble. “We were able to show that we had as many people online as we would have had in person at the event and that we were able to raise even more money than we ever had for the Sharing Shop, and that were able to successfully pull off an event that was as engaging as the in-person event.”

Prior to the pandemic, upwards of 1,000 people would attend the on-campus, in-person event. The fully online 2020 President’s Breakfast still had just over 1,000 participants, noted Gamble.

The success of the event is due to the work of Gamble and her team who set out to replicate the fun and entertainment value they were able to provide prior to pandemic for the 2020 online event. They designed a fully online event with pre-taped segments and live segments that featured staff from around the college sharing how they were experiencing the breakfast.

During the event, strategic priorities, the state of the college address, budget information, and the president’s distinguished achievement awards were presented.

An element of surprise is typically involved with these awards, and 2020 was no different.

“We’ve become real experts in how to run virtual events in a way that people can participate and feel that they’re a part of something special and not just on another Zoom call…we asked each of the recipients to join me on a call to talk about… how we’re communicating about health and safety around COVID and when they came to join the Zoom call it was actually Peter presenting the award,” said Gamble.

The event is also a chance for attendees to support a good cause. Prior to the pandemic, people were encouraged to bring food donations to the breakfast for London and regional food banks. In the past, thousands of pounds of food donations were given.

When the event moved online in 2020, monetary donations were encouraged and matched by the Alumni Association with all proceeds going to the Sharing Shop (Fanshawe’s student food bank). Over $2,600 was raised leading up to the event.

Gamble said employees appreciate the event as it gives them a chance to interact, experience music and entertainment, and catch up with colleagues.

This year’s President’s Breakfast is set for August 31.