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Port of Long Beach honored for excellence in messaging

he Port of Long Beach collected the most awards from the American Association of Port Authorities for 13 outstanding communications campaigns that were adapted or designed to meet the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The haul included nine AAPA “Awards of Excellence,” the equivalent of first-place trophies.

For the second consecutive year, the Port received an award for every entry it submitted in the communications competition. The Port’s entries were recognized for achievements in special events, videos, advertisements and other categories judged by the AAPA, which represents more than 130 seaports in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Long Beach competed in a class composed of the larger seaports.

Additionally, the Port of Long Beach earned the AAPA’s Lighthouse Award of Excellence for Environmental Improvement: Mitigation, for its efforts to lessen the environmental impacts of goods movement through the Community Grants Program. The program was created to help those in the community who are most vulnerable to port-related impacts. The current $46.4 million program is the largest voluntary effort of its kind by any seaport in the nation. Combined with a previous program started in 2009, the Port of Long Beach has set aside more than $65 million. To date, $33.1 million has been committed for local programs. The Port previously received the award in 2015 and 2016.

“Our communications and environmental programs persisted in serving the community while driving home the message that the Port of Long Beach remained open and operating during the unprecedented challenges resulting from COVID-19,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero, who also is serving as chairman of the AAPA through 2022. “These efforts solidify the Port’s standing as an industry leader capable of connecting with a diverse audience of labor, industry and community stakeholders.”

“For a second year in a row, the Port’s team has demonstrated creativity and strength through its communications and community relations efforts, in addition to an industry-leading Community Grants Program that has supported efforts by local schools and health care facilities to reduce port impacts related to air, noise, water and traffic,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “It’s always an honor to be recognized by our industry peers, but this year was particularly special given the seamless productivity our staff has demonstrated while working primarily from home.”

The Port of Long Beach earned the AAPA’s Award of Excellence in nine categories:

  • The Port’s COVID-19 outreach was honored in the Overall Campaign category for employing several wide-ranging outreach initiatives, some of which drew upon the skills of various Port divisions. The programs and projects launched in response to the worldwide pandemic included advertisements, opening a COVID-19 testing site, distributing 300,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, creating a COVID-19 webpage, relaying Port activity to business partners, and adapting popular community-focused programs to account for social-distancing protocols. Additionally, six members of the Port’s Communications staff were temporarily reassigned to assist the City’s Emergency Operation Center’s Joint Information Center, Equity Office and Contact Tracing Unit.
  • The Port’s partnership with the City of Long Beach for its COVID-19 Response Campaign was honored in the Advertisements category. The advertising series was prominently placed in local print and online publications and on social media to reinforce the message that both the Port and the City were open for business despite the challenges of the pandemic.
  • Opening a drive-up COVID-19 testing site within the Harbor District earned the Port an award in the Community and Education Outreach category. Almost 27,000 tests were administered at the site.
  • The Port’s conversion of its annual Scholarship Program from an in-person to virtual format was also honored in the Community and Education Outreach category. In 2020, $125,000 in scholarships was awarded to 94 students.
  • The virtual grand opening ceremony for the completion of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project was recognized in the Special Events category. Because completion of the high profile, eight-year, $1.5 billion bridge construction project came in the midst of the pandemic when no public gatherings could be held, the Oct. 2, 2020, event was designed as a program that members of the public could enjoy from their homes while a small, limited number of officials carried out the opening ceremony in a safe, socially distanced manner. The highly successful culmination event started with a one-hour prerecorded broadcast with 17 speakers, followed by a 30-minute live broadcast that featured simultaneous clean truck, vintage car and boat parades punctuated by a flyover of five historic Tiger Squadron aircraft. (In 2021, the state Legislature proposed “Long Beach International Gateway Bridge” as the name for the new span.)
  • The Twilight Cinema drive-in movie program was also honored in the Special Events category for providing a safe and socially distanced opportunity for Long Beach residents to sit in their vehicles and watch family-friendly films in local parking lots.
  • The Port’s 2021 State of the Port – “The Year of Recovery” also received an award in the Special Events category by moving from an in-person event to an online program that delivered a high-quality video presentation with dynamic footage and graphics.
  • The Port’s annual in-person PHOTO Program evolved to become the PhotoWorks Program, a virtual photography class that was honored in the Social/Web-Based Media category. Held in partnership with the Arts Council for Long Beach, the free program drew about 660 participants who joined a private Facebook group to view instructional videos on various photography topics.
  • The first instructional video within the PhotoWorks series was recognized in the Video category, featuring photographer Tim Rue carrying out an assignment to produce an image for the cover of the Port’s widely circulated annual Tidetables and Reference Guide publication.

The Port of Long Beach also collected the AAPA’s Award of Distinction – the equivalent of second-place wins – in three categories:

  • A full-color advertisement featuring the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge illuminated with red and green lighting and wishing readers “Happy Holidays” was honored in the Advertising category.
  • Embark!, a 20-page, digital, passport-themed booklet introducing 58 Harbor Department employees hired as of that point during the pandemic, received an award in the Directories/Handbooks category.
  • As 2020-2022 Chairman of the AAPA, Cordero delivered the Chairman’s address virtually during the organization’s annual spring conference in March 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, earning an award in the Videos category.

Additionally, the Port of Long Beach received the AAPA’s Award of Merit – the equivalent of third-place wins – in one category:

  • The opening of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement was the inspiration for the 2020 Port of Long Beach Holiday Greeting Card, honored in the Miscellaneous category for its creativity as a 2D card and a digital version shared on social media.