West Plains Connection Multimodal Corridor Improvement Project
Challenge: Spokane is the second largest city in the state of Washington. As Spokane’s population continues to expand, so does its infrastructure. To help facilitate this growth, S3R3 Solutions monitors the growth and development of the West Plains region, a shipping and manufacturing hub outside of the city of Spokane. The West Plains Connection Multimodal Corridor Improvement Project was a study sponsored by S3R3 Solutions and managed by prime consultant, T-O Engineers. The goal of the project was to submit a compelling application for a grant to help fund corridor improvements along 6th, 10th, and 12th Avenues in the Cities of Airway Heights and Spokane, Washington. Our portion of the project focused on collecting input from area residents and garnering support from property owners and businesses in the West Plains area. The timeline was tight with the project under contract in mid-May and a final report due by mid-July. In addition to the challenges presented by Covid-19, the nature of S3R3 Solutions partnerships and funding meant that Big Sky Public Relations had to carefully coordinate feedback and buy-in from numerous key stakeholders in addition to working with S3R3 and prime consultant T-O Engineers. Some key participants included the Spokane Transit Authority, Spokane County, and several different city governments. The need to secure approval for materials and strategies from numerous entities within a short time created a complex challenge. Big Sky Public Relations had to learn quickly and manage carefully in order to ensure an on-time, on-budget delivery.
Approach: This project was in need of strategic and meaningful public involvement; it faced the huge challenge of launching in the early days of Covid-19 and required coordinating with a complex set of stakeholders engaged in the project’s strategy and materials. Big Sky Public Relations was tasked with seeking public engagement that could equitably and effectively gather compelling feedback for the grant application without in-person contact with the public. (Prior to Covid-19, Big Sky Public Relation has always used a highly integrated outreach program relying equally on in-person and remote engagement strategies.)
Big Sky Public Relations created project branding materials, including a logo, brand standards, a website for public interaction, and a social media presence. We mapped a path to success for approvals by carefully articulating timelines and the “why” behind each milestone for T-O Engineers to share with each participant. We assisted T-O engineers with rapidly integrating feedback received. Despite the complexity, we were able to complete all goals on-time, ensuring outreach was not stymied by a longer approval system.
To address outreach as Spokane locked down due to Covid-19, Big Sky Public Relations outlined a strategy that relied heavily on highly targeted online tools, utilizing digital advertising on Facebook and Instagram. This strategy garnered great results, driving the public to the project webpage for more information and participation in the accompanying interest survey. These social channels also served as a way to gather feedback from the public through the comments and direct messaging sections. With a limited budget to reach the numerous communities impacted, we had to carefully allocate dollars. Additional efforts were focused on reaching stakeholders who are not tech-friendly or who may have limited access to internet. We included advertising in the local newspaper, sent out direct mailers, and secured earned media in print and broadcast (this being the most feasible way to gain effective TV coverage without busting the budget).
Results: Big Sky Public Relations’ outreach proved successful in building a culture of trust between the project team, stakeholders, and the local public. Through virtual mediums, we were able to gather meaningful feedback for a project on tight timeframe, driving better results for S3R3 than they have enjoyed on past projects. Specifically, this outreach secured 271 survey responses, 1779 unique visitors to the project website, and 18 web/email comments for the grant application. Todd Coleman shared this is well above the measurable response for outreach that S3R3 has generated for its other projects.
What our clients say:
“Big Sky Public Relations took our outreach efforts for this project to new heights. They overcame limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and exceeded our expectations. We look forward to the opening of their new Spokane office!”
- Todd Coleman, Executive Director of S3R3 Solutions