People love contests. They’ve been a staple of advertising for ages, luring people into stores and onto web sites to enter drawings for free merchandise and discounts. They’re also a useful tool for public relations, as this Stormwater article on launching a successful media campaign illustrates.
Almost as much as the free products, though, people like the thrill of winning and the recognition they get from it—even more so if they have to work for it. The city of Springfield, Missouri, understands this and has used a contest to put members of the public to work on a stormwater campaign.
Sponsored by the city’s Public Works Storm Water Services Division and the James River Basin Partnership, the contest invited locals to create “storm drain art”—sidewalk murals that convey the message that what goes into the storm drain eventually goes into the river. Ten artists, most of them local community college students, painted murals near 10 different downtown storm drains; photos of all the murals were displayed at local events and in a local coffee shop, and the public was invited to vote. The winner got a “People’s Choice Award,” and the city gets some eye-catching contributions to its public education and outreach efforts.
Most of the murals incorporated the storm drain—either a manhole cover or a curb inlet—as part of the image. An aspiring architecture student painted the winning mural, called “Down to the River,” which depicted the runoff’s ultimate destination. Other murals featured a large fish, whose mouth was formed by the curb inlet; a pink and yellow octopus; and a nesting swan.
What unusual or particularly successful public outreach efforts have you seen in your area?