Greyhound puts new bus line launch into motion by boosting social media presence

When Edelman and Greyhound were tasked with launching a new bus line, the firm wasn't told a date, bus schedule, or if advertising would be involved.

Client: Greyhound (Dallas)
PR team: Edelman (San Francisco)
Campaign: New bus launch
Duration:Nov. 2008-April 2009
Budget: $75,000

When Edelman and Greyhound were tasked with launching a new bus line, the firm wasn't told a date, bus schedule, or if advertising would be involved. The team crafted a nimble effort, and got more strategic when it learned the line would be launched in Canada, a region that had recently confronted a gruesome bus tragedy.

Strategy
“We had to manage customer expectations because [the buses] would only be unveiled in a handful of markets,” says Kim Plaskett, director of corporate communications at Greyhound.

The team focused on promoting the buses new amenities, like free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and extra leg room. In addition to traditional media outreach, it created a social media presence and made sure messaging remained centered on the new line, Plaskett adds.

Tactics
At first the team just monitored social media conversations, but then it started pushing out teasers about the new line and populated Flickr and YouTube with vintage bus designs and ads.

Danielle Clark, VP at Edelman, says, “At first we could only respond [on social media] with approved messages, but pretty soon we were engaging with consumers directly.” The team also partnered with BudgetTravel.com to host a 48-hour ticket giveaway, promoted via social media. When the team discovered Canada would be among the first schedules, it pitched travel journalists rather than business press.

Results
The team secured blog coverage among 15% of targeted bloggers, with 161 link backs. Its Flickr page garnered more than 3,000 views, with 31 items marked as favorites. Its new bus video on YouTube has more than 550 views and it tripled its Twitter following to about 300 people.

Future
Edelman and Greyhound continue to work together.

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