[This post has been updated]
Metro is essentially preaching the message: No pain, no gain as it launches its newest PR campaign, Metro Forward, to raise awareness about its ambitious $5 billion capital improvement plan.
A June 10 internal memo from Metro describes the initiative as an effort to raise rider awareness about the about the biggest capital maintenance and renewal program in the system’s 35-year history.
Metro’s “Forward Customer Information Campaign” metroforward.com — launched Thursday with a video from a smiling Richard Sarles, Metro’s general manager, as he promises a more comfortable ride and the long-term benefits of the capital program, which aims to spend $5 billion over the next six years. The campaign will use new signage and social media.
On its Web site, Metro ticks off the work being done:
• Overhauling 153 escalators at 25 stations on every line of the system.
• Designing new rail cars to replace the oldest in the fleet, the 1000 series.
• Replacing 60 miles of rail.
• Rehabilitating or replacing 80 percent of its bus fleet.
What’s the logic behind the site?
The internal memo explains:
It is “designed to inform customers and stakeholders about the capital investments being made in Metro; demonstrate that the investments are being well-spent; make a case for sustained and expanded funding; retain current riders and increase consideration by others and instill ownership among customers, employees, the business community and key stakeholders.”
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the new Metro Forward logo will be used in signage at stations and throughout the system. The signs will replace, for example, the yellow signs that are common now on escalators that “tell you nothing about what we're doing,” Stessel said.
The new signs will “give more detail and explain what’s going on behind the wall” and other details of when the work is expected to be completed and information about why it takes so long to fix the problem, he said said.
According to Stessel, the campaign “adds no incremental expense to Metro’s budget.” He noted that the agency’s marketing budget is “driven by ads that alert customers to service changes resulting from track work.”
Much of the effort involves using social media outlets and Metro’s Web site to disseminate information.
“Twitter is free,” Stessel said. “Facebook is free. All of our marketing efforts are about communicating track work we’re doing. We communicate with customers and some of that has a cost associated with it.
“It is a necessary expense so customers are aware of what we’re doing as they’re riding the system,” he said. “It is repackaging the information and providing it to customers in ways they use: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube.”
Metro’s public relations and customer service team also appears to have a plan to raise more support, saying the campaign is “particularly important in supporting our Congressional strategy,” according to the memo.
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