Ever heard of the saying: “It takes a village”? Well the same thing can be said for certain aspects of communications. It takes the help of the community to spread the word about a campaign or local event. With the rise of social media and the development of new digital platforms, engaging the community has become an integral part of many strategic communications plans.
Every year Van Eperen, in our support of Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s Commuter Services Section, works with Commuter Connections and the Washington Area Bicyclist’s Association to coordinate one of the nearby Bike to Work Day “pit stops.” Bike to Work Day is a free, region-wide event that features 83 “pit-stops” for participating bicyclists as they pedal their way to work. More than 15,000 cyclists participate in the event each year, including about 200 at the stop we manage, a level of participation that would be extremely difficult to reach if it weren’t for the relationships cultivated with businesses in the community.
So how do you engage your community to amplify a campaign? Here are three tips:
Build Mutually Beneficial Relationships
All of the food and drink refreshments, as well as coffee and many raffle prizes were generously donated to us by the local businesses. In return, the businesses are able to set up display tables at the pit-stops and give out additional coupons or information about their business. They were able to provide the donations we needed and we were able to provide them with a marketing opportunity to reach 200 people in two hours.
When asking for help or support, there’s truly nothing like hitting the pavement and meeting with someone in person. The donations mentioned above came from face-to-face meetings with the managers and owners of these local businesses. Meeting in person helps maintain and strengthen relationships whereas an email or phone call wouldn’t necessarily have the same effect. We are also able to clearly communicate what the event is, exactly what we’re looking for and what their company can gain from it, as well.
Rally Around a Good Cause
All of this comes at zero cost to the participant, helping us achieve the main goal of encouraging community members to cut down on gas emissions and to use alternative methods to get to work. Each year, the number of participants in Bike to Work Day grows. More people get out on their bikes, and realize that maybe it it’s a blast to ride a bike to work and incorporate it into their daily routine. No need to stop at the gym on your way home – right? The best way to get your community involved is to engage them in something that ultimately benefits their community.
Bike to Work Day is not only a great opportunity for us to help introduce a greener lifestyle to our community, it’s also a fun way for us to maintain relationships with our clients, neighbors and businesses in the Metro-Washington, D.C. area.
11333 Woodglen Drive
Rockville, Md. 20852
8 Market Place
Baltimore, Md. 21202