NEW YORK: For PR pros living in Brooklyn, next year’s L train shutdown could be a commuting crisis, but Brooklyn-based tech agency Ditto PR is using the outage to attract new talent.
The L line runs east-west in a largely straight shot through the trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick and Williamsburg into lower Manhattan, where it connects with most other subway lines. The L line is one of the New York City Subway system’s busiest, serving 275,000 daily riders, according to media reports.
But the line is closing for 15 months starting next April so the MTA, the agency in charge of the subway, can repair a tunnel damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The MTA is trying to get ahead of the mess by offering other commuting options. Still, the closure will be a major challenge for commuters and the few PR agencies based in Brooklyn’s affected areas.
"My employees use the L line as the primary mode in and out to see clients," said Rachel Van Dolsen, the head of RVD Communications, who added she may relocate her firm because of the closure. "In terms of commuting, a handful of people are affected. But we do have many, many clients in Manhattan and we go in and out of the city so it definitely will be impacting business."
Trey Ditto, CEO of Ditto PR, said New Yorkers are tough, and the subway line won’t be catastrophic.
"We had a blackout from [Hurricane Sandy] and said, ‘Well, I guess I will just walk to work over the Williamsburg Bridge.’ This won’t slow us down," he said.
Still, it’s enough of an issue that he moved his firm last year from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to the borough’s South Williamsburg neighborhood because of the closure.
"I wanted to stay in Brooklyn because that’s an important part of the company’s identity," he said. "But everything in East Williamsburg was solely reliant on the L [line], and I knew that was a bad long-term decision. So, we found office space in South Williamsburg that was just three blocks from the JMZ [line] and right off the Williamsburg Bridge."
The closure is also the theme of a new recruiting campaign touting Ditto’s location to PR pros living in Brooklyn. The campaign started on November 1 and runs for three months. It includes a video, Instagram and Facebook ads, a 1-800 number and an open house. The agency is also testing a media buy to see what kind of response it will get, Ditto said.
Ditto staffer Jake Ciorciari, said the location is one of the main reasons he took the job at Ditto last year. The culture and work were the ultimate motivators, he said, but the easy commute is what first got his attention.
"To give you some background, like everyone who commutes from Brooklyn into Manhattan the L [line] shutdown was certainly on my mind a year ago," Ciorciari said. "And I usually get five to 10 recruiter messages every week. When I saw one last year that mentioned Williamsburg, it caught my eye. It’s not too often if at all that you see a job listing in Williamsburg."
Ciorciari said the move definitely made a difference.
"I live in north Williamsburg and i was commuting to my old agency located in the Flatiron District (in central Manhattan)," he said. "On a good day, with no subway slowdowns, it was a 40-minute commute. Now I bike from North Williamsburg to the south and it’s about a seven-minute commute."