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Client North Fort Bend Water Authority
Disciplines Design & Content, Marketing, Web Development

Making waves through community outreach

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Making waves through community outreach

At the bend of the Brazos River just west of Houston, Texas, there exists an ongoing threat of flooding and infrastructure damage. That’s due to subsidence, or the sinking of land, which is a direct result of the removal of too much groundwater. Recognizing the danger of subsidence, the Texas Legislature established the North Fort Bend Water Authority (NFBWA) in 2005. The Authority’s singular focus? Monitoring groundwater reduction in a 141-square-mile boundary.

As time progressed, it became clear that residents didn’t know anything about the special considerations for the community’s water. What they did know was that every month their water bill had a line-item fee they didn’t recognize: for NFBWA fees. NFBWA’s water conservation awareness was drying up, and they wanted a refreshed campaign to get things flowing again. There, on that bend of the Brazos, a mighty partnership was born.

Uncovering a Drought

The NFBWA is on a mission to deliver its residents a safe and sustainable water source. The region the Authority oversees is vast, so it’s been further divided into cities and a few dozen regions named ‘Municipal Utility Districts.’ These districts gather information and report it upward to the Authority. The NFBWA has to regularly engage both residents as well as the dozens of Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) and cities in its boundaries. So, when Mighty Citizen began its work, we set out to answer one primary question: How can NFBWA deepen and sustain that engagement?

We had an initial Discovery Session with the authority and its key stakeholders, followed by six in-depth interviews with MUD directors and an NFBWA board member. We also completed a Digital Marketing Audit, highlighting the ways the NFBWA could better capture their audiences online.

Our Discovery uncovered an awareness problem. Understanding of the NFBWA was low, which made creating buy-in for programs difficult. Education was ongoing, but it was mostly through traditional media (e.g. print, radio, and TV) that was pricey to produce and disseminate. MUD directors didn’t feel equipped to explain what NFBWA’s fees were funding. NFBWA simply wasn’t seeing the engagement to justify the means.

Our research indicated people threw away most of the print items they received with their bills. The majority of the educational material was about conservation or infrastructure projects—both important—but did nothing to highlight the actual work and purpose of the Authority. Moreover, NFBWA’s long-standing campaign featuring Larry the Talking Sprinkler highlighted their conservation program, but wasn’t the right messenger for the most important audience: MUD directors. The Authority created Larry-only social media accounts. That instinct was good—after all, Larry was their most interesting avatar—but it only served to needlessly divide their audience online.

Mighty Citizen on Tap

In our strategic recommendations following Discovery, we suggested an array of deliverables. NFBWA opted to join our Partner Program—essentially putting our services on retainer and allowing them more flexibility with their priorities and timelines.

Reimagined Website

We started with a website redesign as the first step, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and copywriting. We pulled relevant information from Larry the Talking Sprinkler’s former website and moved it to the main page. We workshopped a unique graphic design for the homepage with the NFBWA team and provided support for public-facing content. We recommended and integrated a new Content Management System (CMS), functionality for forms, and SEO.

The NFBWA’s new website has a refreshed, focused brand identity—all built up to current accessibility guidelines using modern coding standards.

In addition to the look and feel of the website, we developed a strategic campaign plan and associated campaign creative. We created a Voice & Tone Guide to focus the messaging and identified digital and traditional channels to distribute it.

We ran an agile project in four-week windows (or sprints), allowing the NFBWA to see the individual components of our work as they were developed, leaving only minor changes once it all came together.

Refining the Campaign

After the launch of the website in June 2021, we were able to focus more on the components of the campaign. More specifically, we were focused on one lovable talking sprinkler: Larry.

We knew Larry wasn’t resonating with key audiences. And if the messenger isn’t resonating, you can forget about the message. The issue was that Larry wasn’t allowing the agency to speak for itself. To highlight the NFBWA’s messaging problem, we needed to highlight real people. For their residents, the Authority should be seen as human and helpful—not just some agency taking their money.

So, the Water Force was born: A group of human, neighborly faces doing important work to provide a sustainable water supply. The concept required a photo and video shoot, which took us to Fort Bend County where we’d most accurately be able to depict the NFBWA’s community work. We highlighted NFBWA employees, community members, and MUD directors to humanize the process that brings water to the community. We wanted real faces and voices passionately talking about subsidence, conservation, and water infrastructure.

As for Larry the Talking Sprinkler, we hired an illustrator to change his look and decided to use him where we found he’d resonate the best—with kids! Soon, we’ll be updating his trademark and rolling him out.

The Authority had been spending a ton of money to put Larry into TV and radio ads, leaving plenty of opportunity for us to elevate the more mature Water Force brand with new promotional creative and to step into digital marketing.

Launching a Water Conservation Program

The agency also worked with us to redesign their conservation program. That included social media and iconography, as well as designing the materials in a promotional kit that MUDs distribute to their residents.

Using Social Media to Move the Needle

As part of our partner program, we provided strategic recommendations and management for NFBWA’s social media platforms. With new creative and copy, we created refreshed educational content about subsidence, conservation, and the agency itself that helped to further humanize the brand.

We designed a web page layout that the Authority could use for future, audience-specific campaigns. This layout—known as a landing page layout—is built to drive users to a single, specific action.

At Mighty Citizen, we love a good partnership. Our ongoing work with the NFBWA will allow them to home in on their new brand presence, engage the community, react to their needs, and trust in a partner that is dedicated to helping the NFBWA accomplish its mission.

Interested in what we can accomplish together? Drop us a line–—we’d love to chat!

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