Faced with an aging infrastructure, both above and below ground, the City of Minot had been looking for a few years for a way to replace nearly everything within the public right-of-way in downtown. And to do so in a way that allowed for businesses and residents to be impacted as little as possible. A solution was found, after funding from the Economic Development Administration was secured and announced in a downtown press conference by the North Dakota Congressional Delegation, to fund approximately half of the anticipated $30-35 million cost. Now all that remained was to design a project that could be done in phases, over three years, and to communicate all the many moving parts of the construction to nearly 200 businesses, hundreds of residents, and thousands within the city that come downtown daily.
Effectively and efficiently communicate the largest reconstruction project in the City of Minot's history to a wide range of audiences. Work side-by-side with the Houston Engineering design and construction management teams, as well as the City of Minot and the Minot Downtown Business and Professional Association (DBPA) to make sure the latest information is communicated directly to those most impacted.
A multi-prong approach, with a heavy emphasis on face-to-face communication and a strong social media presence was determined early in the process as ideal. Odney's Minot office was located on Main Street, at the heart of the project, during this entire time. This strategic positioning allowed us to more deeply understand the concerns of those businesses, patrons and drivers who frequent the area. A flexible attitude of communicating key messages to anyone who wanted to know and to repeat those messages to all who needed to know served the client and the project well.
All of our key messaging, our social media posts, the face-to-face meetings, visits with city leaders, and regular reports to the Minot City Council, the DBPA and Chamber groups pointed back to the project website - www.DowntownMinotIsOpen.com. This was all done strategically to always be communicating, Downtown Minot is Open! Since the federal funding and other funding sources didn't allow for traditional advertising to showcase this message, we relied on the website name, and the repeated use of that name to leave no doubt in the minds of those willing to listen that Downtown was indeed open despite the construction.
A number of tried and true tactics were used to effectively communicate the overall message that Downtown Minot was Open. And while most businesses lost some traffic into their stores during this time, the vast majority of the businesses persevered during tough construction impact to stay open before, during, and after the project was complete. As a matter of fact, a number of the businesses used their own public relations and marketing tactics to embrace the harsh realities of a complete reconstruction and offered "construction sales" or took their menu literally out the door to the workers and delivered their orders during a lunch break. Odney highlighted these stories and others in the media to show that not all was negative about construction downtown.
Over the length of the project, Odney snapped nearly 10,000 photos of the various milestones within the project. All of the relevant photos were posted to the project website and then 3 to 5 times a week a project update was posted on Facebook to keep our nearly 2,000 followers up to speed. The Facebook page (that racked up 1.65 million impressions!) was also used to highlight how to get to businesses downtown, with the latest road closure or sidewalk concrete pour highlighted to bring them the latest information.
Dozens of impromptu and formal presentations regarding the project and the latest information were solicited and given by Odney. During the project, having the latest road construction map handy to distribute proved very effective in communicating, as many people are visual learners and giving them a map explained their options better than anything else.