Thursday, June 2, 2016
2:00 - 2:20 PM
Ted Talks - Jolliet

Taking the Plunge: Alberta's energy regulator goes online

Achieving “excellence” is a lofty ambition for anyone, let alone an energy regulator responsible for the development of Canada’s largest energy resources. How does an organization with a 77-year history honour its past but embrace the future?

With great humility, an extensive research and public engagement strategy, and executive support to take the online research plunge, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) reached out to Albertans to ask some important questions about regulatory excellence and how we were performing.

It started with an investment in a global framework for regulatory excellence, once we had that framework we knew we had to see if it fit the bill at home, in Alberta. We asked Albertans, stakeholders and AER staff to rate the AER’s approach to the global model for excellence, rank our current performance against that model, and share their top priorities.

From a new online platform to face-to-face engagement sessions we received invaluable qualitative and quantitative information that is doing more than providing data—it’s shaping how the AER will transform itself into a regulator that earns and keeps public confidence both at home and around the world.

Interest Statement:
Multi-faceted engagement for a diverse set of stakeholders – a new digital age means new expectations for engagement. Through workbooks (print and digital), an online engagement tool, social media, an online survey, and events across the province, the AER cast a broad net to reach multiple audiences and put in the extra elbow grease to ensure we had representation from our various stakeholder groups including First Nations and Metis, landowners, environmental groups, industry, AER employees and Albertans.

Learn about the power of vulnerability – we knew that it was not enough to declare ourselves "excellent" or "best-in-class", through this work, we had to first define regulatory excellence with our stakeholders, and then develop a model that we can continually measure ourselves against. This meant admitting we're not perfect—and seeking advice on where and how to improve.

Build credibility - the AER will share a process that organizations can follow to set aside old beliefs and leverage publics by involving them in strategic direction. It's a priority for us that our stakeholders and staff can see where they've provided input in building this new regulator.

Lessons learned – it's rare to hear a candid account of what the challenges were. In this presentation we'll cover where we could have improved, and what our failures were. The AER faced specific challenges in creating a "one size fits all" survey for Albertans, stakeholders and staff—three very different audiences, as well as confusion around the role of the AER and misunderstandings about our mandate, we had to constantly weigh tradeoffs, e.g. catering materials to general population vs. highly technical stakeholders, tight turnaround times …. The list goes on!

Walking the talk – once you put the questions out there and you get answers, you need to DO something. We'll share how the data collected helped shape and influence the AER's action plan to achieve regulatory excellence. We'll cover what we changed and why and talk about how the data helped drive tough decisions about gaps, priorities and next steps.

Learning Outcomes:
Participants will:

Understand how to manage the move from traditional phone surveys to online and the challenges in the one-survey for all approach.

Learn how multiple approaches to engagement help drive participation from ensuring general population sample through our vendor to engaging with staff and stakeholders to build momentum and gather responses.

Understand how the AER leveraged past survey results to demonstrate trends in the data collected and how the data drove key decisions by the AER executive.

See the importance of closing the loop - if you ask someone their opinion, let them know you've heard them, show them how their thoughts are considered in the final decision.


Kim Blanchette, APR
Vice President Public Affairs, Alberta Energy Regulator
Canadian Public Relations Society - National Vice President

A senior public relations executive with more than 20 years in local, national and international communications for government departments and regulatory agencies. An experienced presenter that provides members with a client’s perspective on how research impacts communications strategies, messaging and approaches to storytelling.  Experience in a variety of forms of speaking including panel presentations, traditional powerpoint, PechaKucha and keynotes.