Step 1 Prepare for install
Your campaign kick-off can be a community-wide celebration – or a simple walk around your neighborhood. Whatever scale you choose, there are a few necessities:
Volunteers / installation helpers: You’ll want teams of two or three, and each group should have no more than four intersections to install. (So, for a ten-intersection campaign, you’d want six to nine volunteers.) You may already have enough helpers in your planning team, or you may have gotten contact information for potential volunteers at your campaign planning meeting; alternatively, you might need to actively recruit volunteers. Whichever is the case, make sure you get firm commitments from as many as possible, so you can most effectively plan for the day of install.
Intersection diagrams and campaign maps: Intersection diagrams make it easier for your volunteers to install signs correctly by showing which signs go on which corner of an intersection (and which direction they face). We also find it helps to have multiple copies of an overall campaign map available, so that your install teams can have a better sense of the network of signs they’re posting.
Snips: One pair per install team, plus a few extra pairs just in case! We suggest looking for “aviation snips” (also known as “compound-action snips”): those zip ties can be tough on ordinary scissors. Aviation snips can be found online or in hardware stores for $8 to $12 / pair.
Installing your signs
Step 2 Coordinate press + promotions
You’ve planned your campaign: now you want to share your message more widely. This process can be painless with a bit of advance planning. Your checklist:
- Communications + marketing team member: A “must-have” team member, he / she will coordinate planning and implementation of your press plan.
- Clear message: Can you summarize your project’s goals in a concise, engaging statement? If not, work with your team to hone your message.
- Communications plan: Create a calendar for the time you have leading up to install, and fill it in with the key posts / press that you’re looking to share. Are there any other important events during that time?
Detailed Communications Plan
- As you develop your initial campaign plan (see section 1.0), create the messaging you’ll use to explain (and get folks excited about!) your project.
- If you won’t be using an existing social media account / web page, create these for your campaign. Depending on your campaign’s intended audience, you may also want to make a Facebook event page for your install date and any significant planning meetings, once you have them scheduled.
- As described above, create your calendar for communications tasks. This should include regular content posted online, or otherwise shared through your stakeholders’ communications channels.
- Design any promotional materials you’ll be using: these can include posters and flyers, graphics for use on social media, videos, etc.
- Continue to update your main communications outlets. Adjust content based on user feedback.
- Start reaching out to any media contacts you already have about covering your campaign kick-off and/or planning process.
- Draft press release and share with any parties that need to approve it (such as partner organizations or municipal staff ).
- Schedule meetings with any groups / individuals that will be co-promoting the event with you to ensure your messages are in alignment and to set expectations.
- If you’ve arranged newspaper or television coverage for the day of install, check in with the reporters to make sure they’re still available, and that they know when and where to show up.
- If you’ll be posting any stories the day of install, finalize your drafts. (This includes social media: queue up a few tweets and Facebook posts in advance of install.)
- Have at least one person present whose sole purpose is to document the event! Take plenty of photos and video; get quotes from install participants and any additional attendees.
- Likewise, if you’re using social media, have at least one person present who will be updating Facebook or Twitter, using your event hashtag.
- Communications + marketing team member should be on site and ready to speak with (or facilitate conversations with) reporters.
- Have press release ready to go either the morning of or immediately after the event, including photos from your kick-off.
- Draft and share an organized narrative of the install.
Step 3 Communications plan
While you’ll want to have your communications planned in advance, it’s best to keep the main press push close to the time of campaign kick-off. However, here’s what you can be doing during that lead-up:
As you reach out to members of the press — for newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio — bear in mind their needs as reporters. For example, magazines will have a much longer lead time than other outlets; TV reporters will likely be filming any footage the day of your install, but may want to interview you / get additional shots in the days prior. All outlets will be looking for stories that are timely, engaging, and that affect their audience directly: use the message you’ve crafted to frame this event as worthwhile for them to cover.
Social media / Online
Your first question in deciding which online approach(es) to use: which platforms are most used by the community of / audience for this campaign? We’ve found Facebook group and event pages to be the most widely used platform for campaigners, but there are unique benefits to each option: combine methods as needed to create your campaign strategy.
Whichever you choose, make sure you have one team member managing your social media presence: content can be shared with them for dissemination via your platform(s) of choice, and they can follow and connect with the accounts of groups doing related work. They can also respond to any follower feedback; a benefit of promoting your project via social media (as opposed to traditional media) is that it gives you the chance to interact directly with the audience you want to reach.
Finally, bear in mind that any content you’re sharing should be interesting, engaging, and worth re-sharing! Photos, relevant links, and personal stories all help – as does keeping your coverage positive and action-oriented.
On Facebook, you can create a page dedicated to your project, set up an “event” to which users can RSVP, or just share campaign information on existing pages. Facebook is also particularly well-suited to building your project’s connection to the larger world of walkability: follow and share content from other groups with similar projects, or post interesting stories you’ve found that are inspiring your work. Keeping up a consistent stream of links and photos can help build an engaged audience for your campaign; expanding your Facebook following also offers you another outlet for “crowd-sourcing” sign info, through polls / surveys.
Particularly useful for campaign planning and kick-off events, Twitter allows you to share your event quickly, in a very digestible format: 140 characters at a time. Whether live-tweeting an event or just maintaining a running record of your project, make sure you’ve chosen one consistent hashtag to use – and add it to every tweet. If you’ve got the space, you can also use a Walk [Your City] hashtag (#itsnottoofar or #walkyourcity) to join the broader conversation. As with Facebook, we suggest posting and re-tweeting links of interest; Twitter also now has a polling function that you can use for campaign-related questions.
A dedicated Instagram account will probably not be a priority for your campaign. However, you’ll want to document your event via photos and videos, and Instagram offers a simple way to quickly edit and share images, while also allowing you to cross-post to other platforms. Again, use one consistent hashtag for your campaign, as well as any hashtags that are used related to the campaign area. Promote your hashtag at install events and through press / outreach materials, and encourage folks to use it when posting campaign photos to generate excitement — and track signs’ reach.
E-mail / Other
If you’re working with a neighborhood that has an active online presence – a closed Facebook group, listserv, or NextDoor page – be sure to share campaign updates via those outlets as well. You may also want to use these methods to reach out to potential stakeholder planners and volunteers, as they reach a more specific audience than the social media channels described above.
Step 3 Tools:Download Press Kit
Step 4 Promotion
In addition to spreading the word via media outlets, you can get folks more deeply engaged with your campaign by using additional programming / materials that support walkability. Some ideas we’ve seen used:
Walking pledges: Encourage folks to publicly share their commitment to healthier transportation choices! Create a simple pledge – such as swapping one car trip a week for walking or biking – that can be committed to via social media or at events, then come up with ways to showcase those who’ve pledged. Create a profile image that participants can use on social media, have them sign off on a card that is posted publicly at a community center, or create a program whereby those who’ve pledged receive discounts / perks for area businesses.
Walking maps: Depending on the nature of your project, this could take one of several forms. For a historic district or heritage trail, you could create a walking route that takes folks past key destinations. More broadly, you can create maps with “walking radii” from a central point, showing what’s attainable within five, ten, or fifteen minutes. This map can be an opportunity to promote sponsors or local supporters of your project via a “takeaway” that can be distributed to planning / install attendees or at local businesses.
Step 5 Install + celebrate
You’ve planned, printed, and promoted your campaign – now it’s time to celebrate your team’s hard work, and your community’s contribution, as you install your signs!
We’ve seen kick-offs ranging from small team gatherings, to highly organized press events. Things to consider as you plan your install and celebration:
- Set a vision for what you want your install to look like: How formal will it be? Will there be press in attendance? Will there be any speakers, and if so, what will their message be?
- Who will you be asking to attend, formally or informally? Make sure you’re inviting anyone who has helped bring your campaign to the street, including civic staff and key community contacts!
- Make sure you’ve organized the signs by intersection in advance of install day; this is a good opportunity to check for any printing issues.
- You should have a confirmed team of volunteers by this point: find about half-an-hour in your pre-kick-off schedule to train them in sign install.
Preparing to install: What you'll need
- Intersection diagrams
- Zip ties
- Shears for trimming ties
- Camera and phones for documentation and social media
- At least three people