Smart Columbus is the smart city initiative for the Columbus Region. With a mission to accelerate human progress through open mobility and a vision to be the model for connected cities of the future, Smart Columbus is reinventing transportation through connected, autonomous, shared, electric mobility.
How a partnership rolled out a cutting-edge regional initiative to the public, rallied followers and shared learnings with the industry.
In 2016, Columbus beat out 77 cities to win the USDOT’s first-ever Smart City Challenge. As the winner, Columbus was awarded a $40 million grant from the USDOT and a $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. These dollars provided the seed funding for Smart Columbus—a region-wide Smart City initiative co-led by the City of Columbus and the Columbus Partnership. Smart Columbus needed top-notch support to achieve its local communications objectives within its 9-month goal.
We quickly helped Smart Columbus expand its proactive local media relations strategy and supported it through press material development, media outreach and relationship building, and press coverage coordination. This allowed the organization to get ahead of big announcements and be deliberate in the messages and news it shared.
We also engaged local influencers to experience and promote an exciting project—Ohio’s first self-driving shuttle—as a way to alert and educate their loyal followers about smart mobility technologies of the future.
Finally, we set out to grow Smart Columbus’ social media community across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. A paid strategy comprised of ads and boosted posts increased followers, and an organic post strategy with curated content increased awareness and engagement. We developed a monitoring and response protocol to ensure our combined efforts encouraged conversation. When Smart Columbus was ready to dive into LinkedIn later in the year, it consulted with Approach Marketing for guidance.
We helped Smart Columbus meet and exceed its internal goals well ahead of schedule. The local story pulses we supported, coupled with the revamped media tracking system we designed for multiple contributors, led to the achievement of Smart Columbus’ local media goal inside the first four months of our nine-month contract. The influencers we engaged helped simplify the initiative for their followers, became enthusiastic advocates themselves, and were eager to continue a partnership. Lastly, the social media impressions and engagement we secured exceeded “life of program” goals more than a year before their deadline.
MEDIA MATERIAL DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
PAID SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING
INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT + MANAGEMENT
CRISIS COMMUNICATION MEDIA TRAINING
Media coverage highlights
“Ohio Capital Launches Unique ‘Smart City’ Operating System”—The Associated Press
“First Look: Smart Columbus Experience Center”—Columbus Underground
“Going Electric”—Columbus Stories
“Smart Columbus Halfway to Goal of 300 Government Fleet EVs by 2020”—Columbus Business First
“Prenatal Trip Assistance Pilot Will Launch This Year”—The Columbus Dispatch
“Smart Columbus Center Opens Saturday With Downtown Block Party”—WOSU Public Media