Changing The Communication Landscape Through Construction

By Chad Gamble Public Service Director City of Lansing, MI | March 2010 Vol. 65 No. 3

Swish the Fish started as nothing more than a computer-generated illustration, and was aptly named through a community contest. Swish became the face of Lansing’s CSO integrated marketing and public relations campaign, designed to educate and inform the community about the need for CSO construction. In 2009, the CSO team raised funds to bring Swish to life, and a seven-foot smiling fish mascot was born.

“Swish has been tremendous in helping the mid-Michigan community understand the importance of CSO construction,” said Tiffany Dowling, president and chief conversation starter at M3. “What once was an underground construction project that concerned business owners and neighborhood residents has turned into a teachable initiative that brings people downtown.”

In the summer of 2009, the CSO team launched a “Swish Bucks” promotion offering residents in Lansing as well as the surrounding community a $5 coupon to spend at a participating downtown business of their choice. More than 20 percent of the coupons handed out were redeemed at downtown businesses affected by CSO construction. This promotion accounted for more than $1,400 of downtown commercial business in areas that would normally see decreased pedestrian traffic due to construction.

In addition to this promotion, the CSO Control Program team implemented several other communication initiatives in 2009 to increase public awareness and education for this underground construction project: