Being in the trenches of construction details every day, nothing re-invigorates me more than hearing the “oos” and “ahhs” as a new group of people watches the transformation of Doyle Drive into Presidio Parkway with our project animation videos . Our team was delighted to accept the invitation from Metropolitan Transportation Commission Public Information Officer John Goodwin to present at the San Francisco Public Relations Round Table’s (SFPRRT) monthly program on May 24th. Founded in 1939, SFPRRT is one of the oldest public relations organizations in the county, and what a fun and engaging group! Mary Currie from the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District provided an eloquent introduction complimenting Circlepoint’s our outreach efforts on Doyle Drive, as well as our work on a previous project under her management, the Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Barrier Study.
Keeping in mind what would most interest private and agency communications experts about our highway project, we quickly focused the presentation on the evolution of our communication strategy from the environmental phase into construction, as well as our unique media challenges and opportunities.
After ten years of following strictly delineated outreach procedures during the environmental phase, we were able to launch a brand new communications program once construction commenced in 2009, enabling us to promote the benefits of this transformative project. And what better way to move from procedure to promotion than through rebranding? Or, er, branding. It’s hard to claim the project’s old orange and white color scheme used during the environmental phase actually qualified as a brand.
At the start of construction, the project team welcomed the opportunity to do away with the text block logo and put forth something that truly communicates what this project is about—integrating a major highway into a national park setting. Such a unique and exciting project begged for a graphic identity to match. Out of the team’s new branding effort came a beautiful and identifiable project logo, website and even a friendly pelican mascot . Showing a “before and after” slide of the two logos, I must say, the SFPRRT group was impressed.
The project’s wide range of stakeholders also produced a variety of interesting media opportunities and challenges, one of which cropped up shortly after construction began. A thought-to-be-extinct plant was found directly in the path of construction. This Franciscan manzanita was, as project spokeswoman Molly Graham joked to the group, “the dodo bird of the plant world” and threatened to halt construction. But after extensive coordination with the many agencies involved in the project, the plant was able to be transplanted to a new, safe home. Phew.
On the other end of the media spectrum, the public outreach team recently had the opportunity to promote an exciting new information tool: a transportation simulator that allows the public to take a spin on the final Presidio Parkway virtually, years before construction is complete. Now this was a fun one! See mom, video games ARE educational.
All in all, it was great to share our communication strategies, triumphs and challenges (to date!) with a group who understands better than anyone. It was also gratifying for the project team to see how far we’ve come since those first days doing outreach for the environmental phase of this historic project. A big thank you to SFPRRT for the invitation to present to our communication peers!
About the Presidio Parkway Project
Doyle Drive has been re-envisioned as the Presidio Parkway—a roadway tucked into the natural contours of the Presidio of San Francisco and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the nation’s largest urban parks. The Presidio Parkway will create a spectacular regional gateway between the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco. Construction of the Presidio Parkway began in December 2009 and is expected to be complete in 2014.
Since construction began in late 2009, Caltrans has made quick progress on Phase I of the Presidio Parkway. Phase I consists of construction of a replacement bridge north of the MacArthur Tunnel, a new southbound bridge east of the Highway 1/101 interchange, the first of four tunnels and a temporary bypass.
Doyle Drive will be closed for an extended weekend in late 2011 in order to transfer traffic from the existing Doyle Drive onto the temporary bypass and completed southbound structures. During the closure, the connection between the Golden Gate Bridge and Park Presidio Boulevard/Highway 1 will remain open. After the extended weekend closure, drivers will be traveling on a roadway that meets today’s seismic and safety standards.
About the San Francisco Public Relations Round Table
Founded in 1939 by the titans of PR in San Francisco’s bustling business community, the San Francisco Public Relations Round Table serves senior-level public relations practitioners who meet regularly to hear fascinating speakers, share information, stay on top of trends in industry, business, and the media, and enjoy the company of colleagues with similar interests.