Tapping into a new trend that identifies public transportation as a key ingredient for a multimodal lifestyle, the public transit industry will launch an integrated outreach campaign featuring new messaging, brochures, and a booklet to promote the industry’s funding needs, a grassroots digital outreach initiative, and new research-based advertising creative materials. The campaign will debut March 10 at the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.
The campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” has two overarching goals: to broaden support and show the value of public transportation in local communities and throughout the country and to create a favorable environment for increased investment in public transportation as MAP-21 expires on Sept. 30.
“We are excited about this new campaign because it emphasizes a broader way of thinking about public transportation that is aspirational, modern, forward-looking, and versatile,” said Jennifer Kalczuk, external relations manager of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, and chair of APTA’s Marketing & Communications Committee. “It is research-based with a strong emphasis on taking advantage of the latest digital outreach technology.”
The campaign emphasizes direct communications with national and local policymakers while building a strong advocate base of public transit riders, supporters, and other stakeholders. It also features an integrated outreach effort with emphasis on public relations efforts, advertising, grassroots outreach, and social media tools.
The campaign focuses on mobilizing a broad coalition of industry supporters such as APTA members, public transit board members, riders, local and national organizations, and community leaders to take action in support of public transportation.
A New Way to Talk about Public Transportation
APTA recently conducted nationwide research to test potential messages with 1,000 influencers from the general public.
The study showed that most influencers are favorable toward public transportation. In addition, a majority also supported tax dollars going toward public transportation improvement and increasing current spending levels.
The messages that resonated the most strongly emphasized public transportation powering community growth while driving economic development and revitalizing neighborhoods. The message that stood out among all others was “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” which became the theme of the campaign.
In the survey, messages that emphasized public transportation impacting community growth dramatically increased favorability toward public transportation. Favorability increased from an already strong level of support at 56 percent to an even greater rate of 70 percent.
“The messages for the overall campaign were developed with member input every step of the way,” Kalczuk said. “Members are so excited that we have already seen a number of them place the ads with these messages on their agency Facebook pages as well as making plans to incorporate them into their overall outreach efforts.”
To assist members in spreading the message, the campaign provides three new ad executions to members and supporters that depict how public transportation serves as a catalyst to community growth through supporting small businesses, as well as providing families access to all that a community has to offer.
After APTA launches the campaign, it will work with industry marketing and communications professionals to implement the program locally.
Also as a part of the campaign, APTA launched a grassroots effort called “Voices for Public Transit” to empower public transportation supporters and influencers in the community. “Voices” uses advanced data-driven campaign strategies to identify, engage, and mobilize high-value public transit advocates—those who have taken one or more actions on behalf of promoting their interest in public transportation.
The goal of “Voices” is to build a national base of bipartisan grassroots support for comprehensive public transportation and infrastructure investment. The program employs micro-targeted display digital advertising, e-mail, and social media.
APTA has recruited more than 30,000 advocates after a three-month pilot program, with advocates in all states of the continental U.S. As a part of this effort, APTA has created a “Voices for Public Transit” section on publictransportation.org, located on the advocacy tab of the site.
Working Together, We Can Create a National Movement
This campaign is APTA member-driven and has been previewed with presentations at the Transit CEOs Seminar, Business Member Board of Governors, and the Marketing & Communications Workshop. Further, APTA staff and members plan to make similar presentations at the Legislative Committee meeting, Bus & Paratransit Conference, Rail Conference, state association meetings, the Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar, Annual Meeting & EXPO, and to coalition partners. In addition, APTA has conducted two webinars for public transit marketing professionals that explain the campaign and describe how public transit agencies and APTA member businesses can participate in it.
“We are sending out a call to action to all members, riders, and supporters,” Kalczuk said. “If we are successful in leveraging our collective voices, public transit will garner increased funding and support in communities all across America. The momentum and the public support is on our side; now is the time for us to act.”
Gearing Up for Advocacy
All APTA members can get involved in the new national advocacy education campaign, “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows,” by using the tools on a special web page.
The page describes all the ways public transit agencies and businesses can participate. Find the tools by following four easy steps:
1. Go to the APTA website and click on “For Members.”
2. Click on “Advocacy & Outreach” in the menu on the left.
3. Open the link “Where Public Transportation Goes, Community Grows.”
4. Access dozens of ready-to-use resources, from campaign messages and the logo to ad templates you can customize for local markets, and materials about authorization, including brochures, palm cards, and booklets.
The web page also includes suggestions for participating in the campaign and helpful links to the online community of public transportation advocates called “Voices for Public Transportation” and the campaign-related Facebook and Twitter accounts.
This advocacy education campaign, led by APTA’s Marketing & Communications and Legislative committees, features new ways to position public transportation as a catalyst for helping communities grow. For more information, contact Mantill Williams.