Public Relations Case Study

 
Late in the fall of 2018, the closing of a section of Business 40 had commuters anxiously awaiting to see the impact the construction would have on their drive to and from work. Determined to help ease this anxiety, the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) hired Bouvier Kelly to work with them to develop an advertising and communications strategy that would raise awareness of their work to create transportation solutions. It would also help communicate the importance of ride-sharing and how changing your commute could make the closure easier on everyone.

The Challenge:

Because the closure was such a highly anticipated event that would impact so many people, we knew we were dealing with a large, diverse audience who would most certainly be seeking information on how the construction would affect them. They would also want to know how they could avoid the worst of the construction woes. With information coming from a variety of sources and publications across the Triad, we wanted to position PART as an informed, reliable source that was working in conjunction with the community to alleviate commuting issues.

We also faced the challenge of the closure’s duration: how do you remain top-of-mind for over a year? It was a priority to establish a multi-tiered PR plan that would allow us to share timely news without seeming forceful or irrelevant and that would complement the overall marketing and advertising strategy.

The Strategy: Phase One

We broke our approach into two phases, with the first taking place the month leading up to the closure. Our phase one goal was to preempt the construction by engaging local media with information about the closure and then supplementing it with PART’s commuter transportation solutions.

We accomplished this by distributing a press release that included specific details about the closure as well as how PART’s enhanced and discounted services would help address construction-related issues. We also developed a “Commuting Fun Facts” section as an engaging way to encourage commuters to consider mass transit options. It demonstrated all the things one could achieve in the time gained from taking alternative modes of transportation.

And, since the majority of those affected would be commuting in and out of Winston-Salem, we partnered with WXII 12 News to develop a segment dedicated to this announcement. The on-location interview featured PART’s Executive Director who shared further details about their dedication to improving commuting conditions.

The Strategy: Phase One

We broke our approach into two phases, with the first taking place the month leading up to the closure. Our phase one goal was to preempt the construction by engaging local media with information about the closure and then supplementing it with PART’s commuter transportation solutions.

We accomplished this by distributing a press release that included specific details about the closure as well as how PART’s enhanced and discounted services would help address construction-related issues. We also developed a “Commuting Fun Facts” section as an engaging way to encourage commuters to consider mass transit options. It demonstrated all the things one could achieve in the time gained from taking alternative modes of transportation.

And, since the majority of those affected would be commuting in and out of Winston-Salem, we partnered with WXII 12 News to develop a segment dedicated to this announcement. The on-location interview featured PART’s Executive Director who shared further details about their dedication to improving commuting conditions.

The Strategy: Phase Two

Our second phase kicked off six months later and focused on updating the community on the positive impact PART was having on commuting conditions during the closure. This phase was bolstered by statistics and rider testimonials we had gathered from several riders with different commuting routes and habits. For newsworthiness, we focused on the larger message of Clean Air Month (May) and how PART’s increased ridership was positively affecting the local environment.

Then, we supplemented that message with commuter testimonials advocating that while the Business 40 project may have been the reason why they started using PART, a positive rider experience is what keeps them coming back. Our efforts drew the attention of several local media outlets, including Spectrum News, which did a prime-time feature on the updated information

“If I had to describe my experience riding PART in three words, they would be: efficient, comfortable and affordable.”

Alexcia Lane

Routes 1 and 2 from Winston-Salem to High Point and Greensboro

“Riding the PART bus feels like I have my own private chauffer who knows and cares about me and my daily life outside of my commute.”

Greg Southard

Route 28 from Clemmons to Winston-Salem

“The best thing about riding the PART bus is the fact that I’m not driving and having to manage the traffic.”

Sharon Gaskin

Route 1 from Greensboro to Winston-Salem

Commuting Fun Facts

The average carpooler can save as much as $600 each month on commuting costs such as gas, parking, tolls and car maintenance.

Commuting Fun Facts

In the Triad, the average commuter will spend 22 hours each month on the PART Express Bus. In that time, you could watch all eight Harry Potter movies, read a 1,000+ page classic novel such as Lord of the Rings, send over 26,400 text messages, or get an extra 5.5 hours of sleep each week!

Commuting Fun Facts

PART’s Vanpool program participants helped reduce 12,982,032 in single occupancy vehicle miles traveled in FY2018.

Commuting Fun Facts

The average Triad commuter will spend 14.5 hours each month using carpool or vanpool. That’s the same amount of time it would take you to binge watch a season and a half of Game of Thrones, read the entire Hunger Games trilogy twice, or plan out your monthly budget for the next year.

The Results
agsdi-eye

2.1m

Potential
Impressions

agsdi-income

$17,000

Public Relations
Value

agsdi-people

7.4%

Increase in
Ridership

From a numbers standpoint, we generated 2.1 million potential impressions (the number of people who could have seen the coverage based on when and where it ran) and a PR value of almost $17,000 between the two phases, which was a significant ROI. Our communications strategy has also played a significant role in PART’s larger marketing plan, which has contributed to a 7.4% increase in ridership over the last fiscal year. And while all of these statistics point to a successful campaign, we are just as thrilled to help our client spread the larger message of how ridesharing and public transportation can contribute to a cleaner, greener and less traffic-filled environment for all of us.

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