New app builds information bridge to Port of Long Beach

Westbound Communications developed an app to help keep stakeholders informed about the Port of Long Beach's bridge project.

Client: Port of Long Beach (Long Beach, California)
Agency
: Westbound Communications (Orange, California)
Campaign
: Long Beach Bridge Mobile App
Duration
: February 2014 - ongoing
Budget
: about $40,000 (through May 2014)

The Port of Long Beach broke ground in 2013 on its four-year, $1.2 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project. Numerous stakeholders are impacted - 68,000 vehicles travel the bridge daily and 15% of the nation’s waterborne cargo passes over it annually.

Westbound Communications, which won a four-year PR contract in late 2012, developed and launched an app this year to help keep stakeholders informed.

"Our primary mission is to keep goods moving and communicate with the public, government agencies, emergency responders, port customers, and Long Beach businesses," explains John Pope, community relations manager for the Port of Long Beach. "We also have to focus on the brand of the port. We compete for business on an international level, so positioning the bridge [in a positive light] is part of our long-term branding strategy."

Strategy
The app, which launched wide on February 14, provides traffic-condition updates, live streaming video, project photos, news, and more.

"An app is the right platform to feature many project elements and to serve many audiences," says agency president and CEO Scott Smith. "It was important to make the app and the project website centerpieces of communication efforts."

Awareness of the app is driven through events, the bridge project website (newgdbridge.com), social media outreach, and media and blogger relations.

Tactics
The agency team manages all app content, which includes weekly push alerts about traffic conditions.

Weekly project and traffic updates are also posted to Twitter and emailed to subscribers.  

The app is featured on www.newgdbridge.com. The site houses original content created by Pope’s team, including key planning documents, construction updates, live streaming video, and more. 

A press release announcing the app launch was distributed to local and regional traffic reporters, TV news anchors, tech reporters and bloggers, app reviewers, travel and tourism outlets, and trucking and infrastructure trade media. 

Short videos focused on construction news, milestones, and engineering are created and posted to the project’s online channels, shared in the weekly updates, and pitched to journalists and bloggers.

The port also promotes the app on its social media channels.

The app is promoted at various events attended by port customers, industry analysts, consultants, local and regional elected officials, civic and business leaders, and Long Beach residents.

Local businesses distribute collateral, such as postcards and fact sheets, with information about the app.

Results
The goal was a minimum of 500 app downloads by August 14. There were 1,031 downloads by April 4 and 1,615 as of May 27.

Most frequently used app features are live streaming views, a detour map, and audio alerts.

Since the app launched, Facebook likes have increased by about 25% and Twitter followers are up 35%.

Five earned stories have run (1.1 million impressions) in outlets including The Long Beach Register.

Future
The team is aiming for 3,000 app downloads by January 2015. The renovation is expected to be complete by late 2016.

Media relations will continue, and events and other promotional opportunities with Long Beach businesses and truckers are under consideration.

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