Houston-Galveston Area Council- Relaunch

The Challenge

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) is a voluntary association of local governments and elected officials from the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning Region – an area of 12,500 square miles with more than 6 million people. H-GAC is designated by the State of Texas as the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization for transportation planning for Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties. H-GAC’s Commute Solution Program had an established brand footprint, but was in need of newer, more innovative strategies to re-engage key audiences and elevate the trial and adoption of alternative transportation through various commuter programs across their eight-county region.

While H-GAC’s Commute Solutions program has laid a foundation for improving traffic conditions, Houston continues to be cited for plaguing traffic. there is much room to further inform and influence the average commuter in adapting their transit patterns. The program has had success engaging in successful relationships with employers but still has low engagement and adoption among commuter audiences. In the summer of 2015, H-GAC enlisted Etched to maximize visibility and increase engagement with key audiences, through highlighting Commute Solutions efforts and events to the public and in the media.

The Approach

Etched recommended the campaign be overhauled, re-launched, and, most importantly, take a community-centered approach. It would only be successful if it connected with each target audience: commuters from the eight-county region, elected officials, community stakeholders and major employers. Etched involved H-GAC’s advertising agency, as the integrated recommendation included creating web platform.

Etched and H-GAC strategically selected August was the best timing, as it is national Commute Solutions Month. Since this is also back-to-school time, traffic and congestion roadblocks are even more top-of-mind for the community.

Etched’s research and insight informed messaging, and the campaign was named “Road Warriors for Smarter Commutes.” Key messages included a call-to-action for clearer roadways and to empower commuters and their employers to adopt transportation alternatives, whether they take the bus, join a vanpool or bike to work.

The campaign launched Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 with a news conference at Houston City Hall, located in downtown where majority of weekday traffic flows. H-GAC executives unveiled the Road Warriors web platform and its interactive components. Additionally, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke to convey his support of the campaign and issue a call-to-action for everyone to adopt a commute solution. Elected officials, including mayors, state representatives and county commissioners, from the eight-county region were also present to represent all area commuters.

The Etched Affect

Campaign results surpassed benchmarks and client expectations. Media relations efforts garnered coverage across all mediums and in multiple languages, generating more than 7 million news impressions throughout the region. The relaunched web portal received approximately 20,000 visitors within the first 72-hours of going live, the previous site generated an average 300 visitors per month, that’s a 6,566 percent increase. 20 community organizations partnered with H-GAC for the festival and more than 500 people attended the festival and engaged with interactive stakeholders and vendors, including small-business owners in the community.

As the newly awarded consultant, Etched utilized its existing media and business relationships to secure editorial and media interviews across multicultural outlets. Etched secured television, print media, digital and radio coverage in established local outlets including:

  • Houston Chronicle
  • Univision Television
  • Radio One: Boom 92.1, 97.9 The Box
  • CBS Radio: Mega 101.1, Sports Radio 610 and Sports Radio 650
  • Cox Radio: the New 93Q, 92.1 Country Legends and 106.9 The Eagle

Etched’s successful media relations has since expanded to handle media relations for the Commute Solution relaunch that entails revitalizing the Commute Solutions brand and launching a supporting campaign to reintroduce it to the market. In 2017, the agency received an award from the Public Relations Society of America– Houston Chapter for excelling in media relations.