RICHMOND, June 10, 2021 — The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) received a 2021 Communicator Award of Distinction for marketing effectiveness from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA) for its virtual response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working with partner ICMA-RC under the guidelines of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act effective March 2020, VRS developed strategic initiatives that included new defined contribution plan (DCP) provisions for coronavirus-related relief, virtual retirement education and promoting interactive online tools.

The CARES Act offered flexible distribution options from retirement plans, including a waiver of required minimum distributions. VRS quickly implemented these provisions to provide financial relief for participants, communicating changes with a special webpage, messaging, forms, education and call center assistance.

During the pandemic, DCP retirement specialists shifted to virtual assistance, appointments and webinars. A “Staying Connected” communications campaign promoted services like virtual one-on-one appointments, along with articles and emails featuring webinar topics and sign-up instructions. VRS also implemented a communications campaign to promote existing tools like the DCP mobile app, benefit videos and online transactions.

“Our goal was to provide uninterrupted services and be a source of ongoing support during an uncertain time,” VRS Director Patricia Bishop said. “We worked with ICMA-RC to develop strategies to address our participants’ immediate needs for financial relief while also ensuring that we proactively communicated the educational and counseling services available to our members. We are honored to receive the Communicator Award in recognition of this multifaceted response.”

The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program honoring creative excellence in an annual competition for marketing and communications professionals. The awards are judged by AIVA, an assembly of professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of media.

Media Contact

Jeanne Chenault
Director of Public Relations