The city of Phoenix recently was named the 2020 Gold Winner in the category of Best Government Response-Helping People and Businesses During COVID-19 by Public Relations World Awards (PRWA).
This annual award recognizes outstanding work in agency and in-house public relations, corporate communications, and marketing and investor relations from around the world. Because of the pandemic, PRWA created new categories to honor the contributions of individuals, teams and organizations that have demonstrated creativity, resourcefulness and innovative thinking to assist the public in dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.
“The city of Phoenix responded quickly and efficiently to the COVID-19 pandemic. We stepped up to provide accessible, no-cost testing to every resident with help from community partners and local healthcare providers,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “The city of Phoenix prioritizes the health and safety of every resident and I applaud the successful actions of every city employee who did–and continues to do–their part.”
In May, Phoenix partnered with several local healthcare providers to deliver free drive-thru COVID-19 testing at various city-owned parks. Even in the middle of Phoenix’s summer season, the drive-thru sites were flocked by hundreds of vehicles, which confirmed the demand for free COVID-19 testing. Phoenix’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing events captured the national media’s attention.
In August, city leaders saw an additional need to bring COVID-19 testing at no cost to the underserved communities of Phoenix. They conceptualized a mobile unit that could bring the testing to community members experiencing various challenges that prevent them from getting to a testing site–transportation, language barriers, health and personal reasons.
A multi-departmental collaboration resulted in the COVID-19 Mobile Testing Van, launched on Aug. 18, which currently is managed and operated by the city’s medical partner, Vincere Cancer Center. Phoenix Public Works’ Fleet Services division procured the cargo van and customized it to the medical staff’s needs, while Phoenix Communications Office designed the colorful wrap that makes the Van stand out.
“The pop-up testing locations and Mobile Testing Van provide easy access to free COVID-19 tests for the Phoenix community,” said Phoenix District 4 Councilwoman Laura Pastor. “I am so proud of the partnerships we have built with local medical providers, and the work of the Phoenix team to provide much needed testing and information to our residents.”
Phoenix’s submission focused on its efforts to provide COVID-19 testing to the community at no cost and its outreach strategy to inform the public about these testing opportunities. Phoenix’s Public Works PR team and the Communications Office worked together to disseminate the information about the testing opportunities—the drive-thru sites and the Mobile Testing Van–using social media, traditional media, various listserv and e-newsletters. Additionally, an informational webpage with testing schedules was created, promotional videos about the testing events were produced and the teams coordinated a news conference and other media opportunities to interview the medical partners and city leaders regarding Phoenix’s efforts.
The overall message was to urge everyone in the community to get tested at no cost to slow down or stop the spread of the virus and seek immediate medical attention if infected.
To date, the COVID-19 Mobile Testing Van has administered nearly 13,000 tests at 50 different locations since its launch in mid-August. For the drive-thru testing, 75 events have been held in city-owned parks, as well as schools and churches. The drive-thru tests have provided more than 12,000 tests to individuals ages 6 months and above.
A virtual awards ceremony will be held in early December.