DEQ Leadership Team Wants You to “Ask DEQ, not Phil”

By DEQ Communications Office

"Ask Deq, not Phil."
The “Ask DEQ, not Phil” team on set. Front: “Pam” and “Phil.” Back: Amy Christensen, Scott Anderson, Donna Spangler, Rick Saathoff, Lisa Mechem, Carlee Christofferson.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provides employees with leadership training to support their career development. Each year, division directors nominate one employee from their division to participate in the two-year course. In addition to formal training, independent study, reading, field trips, and class interaction, each leadership team develops a group project that benefits the agency. Past projects include the development of the Permit Wizard tool and the annual State of the Environment Report.

This latest team’s project was a little different: a public service announcement (PSA) campaign–“Ask DEQ, not Phil”– to raise awareness about DEQ. We talked with members of the Leadership Team — Brandy Cannon, Carlee Christoffersen, Lisa Mechem, Tammy North, Rick Saathoff, and Kim Shelley — about their experiences.

“Ask DEQ, not Phil” was your team project. What do like best about it? Did you expect this to be your final project?

Kim: I would never have predicted that our final project would have turned out as it did! I love that humor is used to deliver the message in the spots. Humor makes the information relatable. I hope that the “Ask DEQ, not Phil” concept can be built on for many years to come.

Lisa: I think “Ask DEQ, not Phil” will resonate with most people and help us to get our messages out. After learning about previous projects, no, I did not expect this to be ours. However, I do like how it turned outI was at both casting and filming. The creative people working on the project definitely see things differently than most scientist/engineering types. After seeing the end result, they were assuredly correct!

Brandy: I was surprised this was the final project because it seemed different than what we were originally focused on. But part of being a leader is taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. The department branding effort seemed like an opportunity to provide input into what our divisions do. The PSA was a fun project. It is interesting how technical even short commercials are. Every single second has to be accounted for and analyzed and polished.

Rick:  Our team project was much different than any of us expected from the time that we began the project to the final product. It allowed us to go through many stages of planning and decision making before we made the decision to use the “Ask DEQ, not Phil” concept. I think we were all a bit apprehensive at first on the “Ask DEQ, not Phil” concept, but the final product is something that I believe all of DEQ can be proud of. The campaign is something that we can use for years to come as we develop his character in the coming months. I attended the filming portion of the “Ask DEQ, not Phil” PSA. I was amazed at the number of “takes” they did and the attention to detail that went into it. The STRUCK team did their job amazingly well.

Tammy:  I love the quirky humor- because I think it is so out of place for engineers and scientist, but something that people can relate to. I didn’t expect this to be our final project.

What do you see as the long-term impact/benefit to DEQ from your team project?

Kim: I hope that DEQ can build on the “Ask DEQ, not Phil” concept in the future. Using humor to deliver a technical/regulatory message is a great way to make it relatable to everyone.

Lisa: “Ask DEQ, not Phil” seems like it will continue to be pertinent for quite some time to come. It lends itself to be being added to/continued, with more “episodes” added for more topics. It presents important information in a format most people will watch and listen to. It doesn’t have to end with this set of three!

Carlee: I hope “Ask DEQ, not Phil” is the first step in a new era of public awareness of DEQ.

Brandy: I think these PSA spots can be useful for a long time. They can be customized fairly easily for future “hot” topics that arise pertaining to the environment.

Rick: Public awareness of what DEQ does and who we are will create long term relationships and benefits.

Tammy:  I hope the general public has a better understanding of what DEQ does and how it benefits them and helps build a community of support.

If you haven’t seen the “Ask DEQ, not Phil” PSAs yet, here’s your chance. See the series by clicking the video player above. (Hint: The out-takes are also not to be missed!)
See what Phil has to say by following his Twitter account @AskPhilUtah. If you have a question for the Department of Environmental Quality, and you use the hashtag #AskDEQnotPhil, you will get an accurate answer from DEQ, and “Philisophical” answer from Phil.
Hats off to the members of the Leadership Team — Brandy Cannon, Carlee Christofferson, Rick Saathoff, Lisa Mechem, Kim Shelley, and Tammy North — and Division Director Scott Anderson for his expert guidance and leadership of the group and facilitation of the team project.