Campaign Prep

Step 1 Identify & assess campaign area

A Walk [Your City] campaign is a set of signs within a defined project area: a commercial strip, neighborhood center, or downtown core that has 10 or more basic daily amenities within a mile of each other and (ideally) within a mile of residential areas.

A quick way to assess a neighborhood’s suitability for a WYC campaign is to zoom to the 500 or 200 foot level in Google Maps, and see how many (and what types of) amenities there are. For example, in the map of a downtown core below, a theater, library, convention center, and multiple restaurants and bars are immediately visible within about a half-mile; single-family homes and apartments are adjacent to this commercial / civic district.

When assessing potential campaign locations, look for the following:

Suitable project areas will have the following:

  • 8 to 12 intersections where signs can be installed—To identify good installation locations, ask: Where are most people in this area? Where are they coming from, and where are they going? What are the main sources of traffic on foot? For each potential installation location, there must be places to safely post signs where they will be visible.
  • 10 to 15 useful / interesting destinations, at a minimum, each within a mile of at least one sign installation location. Destinations may include retail / restaurants, civic buildings, universities, leisure destinations, parks / greenways, or transit. Recommended destinations are publicly accessible during normal business hours, and / or are useful on a day-to-day basis.

When assessing sign install locations look for cross walk poles, street lamps, traffic light poles, and telephone poles. Do not use street signs as the poles are too narrow.

When assessing these features, be sure to keep in mind existing bike-ped infrastructure (or lack thereof), as well as current and upcoming planning / development projects that may affect a campaign: street closures, the departure (or arrival) of key amenities, redesigns of public space, new transit routes, et cetera. A great way to understand the physical context of your campaign area – both for your WYC campaign, and to gather insights for future projects – is to conduct a walk audit with your planning team and stakeholders.

In addition to taking a quick look at the physical features of your proposed campaign area(s), you’ll want to understand the social context: Who are the key stakeholders, and what are their needs? (How do they travel around the campaign area?) Who is responsible for / has an interest in this area, and what are the relationships among different groups? Often, WYC campaign planners are themselves stakeholders in the project area. However, if you’re not a stakeholder yourself, you’ll want to bring people who are into the planning process as early as possible — and include them in project leadership. To ensure meaningful community involvement, stakeholders’ perspectives must be valued and integrated into campaign planning.

Whether you live / work in the campaign area or not, community outreach is a critical piece of early campaign preparations; there may be audiences you aren’t aware of, or groups that are harder to reach. To reach more stakeholders, we recommend pre-campaign planning outreach that introduces the concept, purpose, and process of your campaign, such as presentations to community groups, creating flyers for businesses and social centers, or even going door-to-door. Throughout the planning process, keep campaign area stakeholders updated on progress and solicit their feedback wherever possible. We also suggest that you make a dedicated e-mail address or other contact info for the campaign, in case folks want to get in touch with any questions or comments.

Step 2 Set goals

In order to assess your campaign’s success, you’ll need to identify the goal you’re working towards.

WYC campaigns typically fall into one or more of three categories:

  • health / wellness, promoting physical activity;
  • safety, creating and protecting space for pedestrians / bicyclists;
  • and economic development, fostering community vibrancy and streetside interactions.

Think about who you’re trying to serve in the walkshed you’ve identified: what are the needs and interests of the population in this area? What would meet those needs or further those interests? Reflect on how the area’s intersections, blocks, and nodes of activity are currently working — or, not working.

From this reflection, you should be able to identify a guiding goal for your campaign, and select the key metrics that you’ll be tracking to determine campaign success. Where possible, establish a baseline for these metrics before installing your campaign, so you can assess change over time!

A few examples of goal and metric pairings that will require pre- and post-implementation measurement:

Possible goals: what do I want to achieve?Support “trip swapping” from driving to walking / biking; increase community members’ minutes traveled on footMake streets safer for pedestrians of all ages; build support for bike lanes, new pedestrian plan, and other non-automotive modesSupport connectivity between downtown and nearby / less-visited neighborhood; increase in customers / sales for local commercial area
Possible metrics: how will I assess success?Miles / minutes walked / biked (individual / collective): overall, to work, to school; (estimated) calories burnedWalking trips as a percentage of total trips (broken down by age groups); percent of drivers speeding; perceptions of safety (surveyed)Percent change in local business’ sales; pedestrian counts in public spaces at specific times; customers traveling to / in district via different modes

Once you have your guiding goal, you’ll want to produce a clear, concise message statement that explains your project and can be shared with press / the public. When you’re developing your message, follow this formula:

  • Problem: why are you creating this campaign in the first place?
  • Solution: what will your campaign do to solve the problem?
  • The “how”: when (and where) is your campaign being planned / installed? what does this process entail?
  • Call to action: what do you need from the public (volunteer, retweets, support at a Council meeting), and when do you need it? (Express urgency!)
  • Looking ahead: what actions will your campaign lead or contribute to in the future?

As you craft your message, consider the perceptions your potential audience may have about walking in general, and walking in the campaign area in particular.

Step 3 Assemble team

As previously mentioned, you’ll want to connect with the people who live, work, and play in your campaign’s walkshed – as well as the staff and officials responsible for that area.

To pull off a successful campaign, you’ll also need to pull together a team that has a certain set of skills. A few key roles to include:

Campaign roles

  • Chief instigatorLead project manager/organizer.
  • City championYour liaison at the city level who can help guide you through municipal approval, this role could be occupied by a city staff-person or an elected/appointed official.
  • Community rep(s)Your connection to other stakeholders in the campaign area, identifying opportunities for engaging a wider pool of neighborhood organizations and residents.
  • Project wranglerYour campaign install leader who can organize volunteers and materials, and who will coordinate with the team’s promoter and community representative(s) to prepare for campaign kick-off.
  • Team cheerleaderYour project’s communications and marketing lead, who can help manage social media and press outreach.

To make sure your team functions effectively, we have three key suggestions:

  1. Identify a team lead. While decision-making should draw on a broad base of teammates’ knowledge and skills, it’s best to have one member who guides the process of campaign planning — if only to ensure that you keep to the proper timeline!
  2. Set clear expectations for participation. Some folks may really want to get involved — but are not going to attend meetings, or do the higher-level homework of preparing for the campaign. That’s okay! If people approach you about how they can help, but they’re not up for a leadership role, add them to a list of potential campaign planners, installers, and boosters; their support will be critical in the coming weeks and months.
  3. Manage meetings thoughtfully. This means being aware of planning team member’s time constraints and staying on schedule. It also means respecting and valuing your team members’ contributions: make sure someone is documenting each meeting you hold, and have a common repository for those notes that everyone can access. (It may also help to send out e-mail recaps after meetings addressing decisions made and responsibilities assigned.)

Step 4 Create timeline

When do you want to start getting more feet on the street? Depending on the nature of your campaign, you may already have a target event or meeting in mind as your campaign install date.

If so, you can use our projected timeline below to work backwards, ensuring you have adequate time to plan your campaign. If not, we suggest looking for an existing event in your campaign area with which sign installation could be linked, or targeting a weekend at least three months out. Either way, you’ll need to schedule a consistent sequence of planning meetings, and build in enough time for meaningful community engagement.

Campaign timeline

T minus 12 weeks:
  • Develop your goal and campaign area with a team of project partners; make sure you’ll have the funding you need to create your campaign.
  • Identify stakeholders you’ll need to include and/or inform.
  • Get the initial approval needed to create a campaign: talk to planning, transportation, public works / engineering, and community development / neighborhood services staff. Share with City Council. Apply for any permits you’ll need for the campaign.
T minus 8 weeks:
  • Conduct pre-install evaluation of proposed project area.
  • Plan and design your campaign through a workshop, online survey, tabling at a local event, etc.
  • Develop routes based on the input you’ve received.
  • Get any final approvals needed on sign routes, text, install locations, et cetera (may need to add time here depending on your city’s processing speed).
  • Start campaign installation preparation, including a communication / outreach plan and volunteer recruitment.
  • If you’re having a formal install event, outline needs and invite list.
T minus 4 weeks:
  • Create and order signs, using Campaign Builder; check for accuracy and organize them by intersection prior to install.
  • Work out install logistics, including getting confirmation from volunteers and creating your day-of-install schedule.
  • Promote via social and traditional media (Link to communications section). • Send any install event invites, as needed.
T minus 1 week:
  • Final checks with municipality, install team, and any press contacts who will be present.
  • Make sure everyone who may need to get in touch with you day-of has your contact information and a schedule with location information.
  • Make it a celebratory (and well-publicized) event!
T plus 1 week:
  • Connect with planning team to debrief about install.
T plus 4 weeks:
  • Conduct post-install evaluation and assessment, if you haven’t already started.
  • Start to carry out any campaign maintenance / management plans.
T plus 6 months, onward:
  • Identify opportunities to extend your campaign’s impact with new programs and policies.
  • Continue to maintain the campaign, replacing and removing signs as needed.

Step 5 Assess progress

Before you move on to more formal campaign planning, download the Progress Assessment Form to help guide your preparations.