PACIFIC SURFLINER ISSUES DIGITAL MARKETING RFP

The LOSSAN Agency wishes to contract with a strategic marketing firm to provide services related to social media marketing and digital communications as needed for the purpose of:

• Increasing ridership, positive brand associations, and visibility of the Pacific Surfliner

• Promoting loyalty, encouraging repeat usage, and improving the return on investment for marketing activities

• Promoting visibility of the Pacific Surfliner through key influencers to promote consumer purchase decisions within communities served

• Better defining audiences and delivering targeted marketing messages to promote long-term relationships and increase customer lifetime value

• Enhancing customer service by proactively serving up relevant information and also encouraging two-way dialogue between customers and the Pacific Surfliner brand

• Supporting ongoing communication and marketing efforts

Through this contract, consultants shall provide expertise in specific service categories and supplement the LOSSAN Agency’s in-house marketing and communications staff, as well as work with external vendors contracted for specific marketing specialties including web development, creative services, public relations, videography, and advertising.

Background:

The 351-mile LOSSAN Rail Corridor travels through a six-county coastal region in southern California and is the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the United States. The LOSSAN Agency manages the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service, which has an annual ridership of nearly 3 million. There are currently 26 daily Pacific Surfliner trains between the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, with 10 trains extending to the City of Santa Barbara/Goleta and four to the City of San Luis Obispo. The Pacific Surfliner serves 27 stations between the cities of San Diego and San Luis Obispo.

The LOSSAN Agency promotes the Pacific Surfliner as a viable transportation option for travelers to destinations along the LOSSAN Rail Corridor and beyond. In addition to rail service, dedicated Amtrak Thruway bus connections supplement the train by providing transportation to and from the City of San Luis Obispo for rail passengers making connections to Pacific Surfliner trains in the City of Santa Barbara. Thruway Buses also provide connections between northern and southern California, and between Orange County and Palm Springs/Coachella Valley.

Scope of Work:

The project will achieve the development and implementation of a robust social media marketing program that delivers timely and relevant information including passenger communications, promotions, upcoming events, and news. The goal of the program is to drive website traffic and ticket bookings among current and potential customers who have indicated an interest in the Pacific Surfliner.

Throughout the project, Consultant will provide strategic support in various areas including the following:

– Strategic planning 

– Development and implementation of specialized social marketing programs

o Crisis communications

o Influencer engagement o Partnerships

– Content planning and development/digital storytelling

o Evergreen and promotional activities

o Seasonal marketing effort support

o Premium content 

– Community management

– Paid media 

– Reporting and optimization

DEFINITION AND SCOPE 

The Consultant shall complete the following tasks and specific deliverables required for each phase of the project.

Task 1 – Strategic Planning

Review the Pacific Surfliner social media marketing program and recommend adjustments to improve the ability to develop long-term relationships with fans and attract potential customers. Social media channels supplement marketing programs by driving website traffic, increasing ticket bookings, and encouraging two-way dialogue between customers and the brand. A quarterly update will provide recommendations for the overarching strategy, as well as identify areas of opportunity. This includes:

– Emerging platforms, technology, assets, and/or content types that will boost the reach and engagement of Pacific Surfliner messages

– Opportunities to grow Pacific Surfliner social channels via integrations on-board the train, at the stations, through partners, etc.

– Short-term and long-term improvements along with the level of effort required and how to implement them

Task 1 Deliverables: 

1. Detailed quarterly strategic planning document with actionable recommendations for improving the social program through technology, new platforms, best practices, etc.

2. Quarterly analysis of two (2) to three (3) related social media programs (in the travel industry, rail transportation, etc.) to discover trends, effective content, etc.

Task 2 – Development and Implementation of Specialized Social Marketing Programs

Produce and implement robust social media marketing programs that help establish long-term relationships with fans and attracts potential customers. Social media channels supplement marketing programs by driving website traffic, increasing ticket bookings, and encouraging two-way dialogue between customers and the brand.

Provide ongoing strategic support with the following:

– Develop an ongoing “always on” social media marketing program that will grow channels, increase engagement, extend the reach of messages, and drive traffic to PacificSurfliner.com. Include sections for:

o Distribution (paid media, partner integration)

               o Content strategy.

Existing content includes: 

▪ Branding/Awareness: Scenic photos and videos of the train, specialized videography (time-lapse, drone, etc.), behind the scenes

▪ Education: News/service information, onboard amenities, safety tips, riding tips

▪ Incentives/Inspiration: Discounts, influencer content, trip ideas, events – Recommend opportunities for extending the reach of Pacific Surfliner messages for both evergreen content and promotional/seasonal marketing effort – Leverage existing Pacific Surfliner photo and video assets and provide recommendations for and/or assistance in sourcing additional photography and videography relative to content.

– Regularly analyze performance to determine possible improvements to the overall strategy

In addition, lead the development and implementation of specialized programs that will leverage social channels and complement ongoing marketing activities:

– Crisis Communications: Work closely with LOSSAN Agency staff to build and then maintain a comprehensive plan to guide critical communication efforts in the event of a natural disaster or unforeseen event

– Influencer Engagement: Establish a framework to guide influencer campaigns, leveraging the reach and unique perspective of local influencers to showcase the Pacific Surfliner experience to relevant audiences. Research relevant influencers along the LOSSAN Rail Corridor and work with the LOSSAN Agency’s Public Relations vendor to engage them throughout the year. Pacific Surfliner travel can be traded for coverage (including social posts, photos, and articles) by qualified influencers. Ensure coverage is accurate, positive, and has a high reach.

– Partnerships: Create, manage, and execute social media co-op campaigns with relevant partners to generate interest in the Pacific Surfliner among target audiences and build brand equity.

Task 2 Deliverables:

1. Ongoing 12-month calendar of planned social media activities that will complement marketing campaigns centered around promotions, local events, and service impacts

2. Distribution plan to augment social engagement and blog readership, including a paid media schedule (with target audiences, budgets, etc.) and procedures for identifying and repurposing popular content

3. Comprehensive crisis communications plan

4. Overarching influencer engagement strategy document

5. At least six (6) high-quality influencer partnerships resulting in positive exposure for the Pacific Surfliner

6. At least four (4) co-op campaigns with partners along the corridor. Develop a toolkit for each partner with customized messaging, related photos, and pertinent links and/or copy points.

Task 3 – Content Planning and Development / Digital Storytelling

Work with the in-house marketing team to develop engaging and relevant stories and posts for social media that educate and inspire fans while growing customer base and cultivating user loyalty.

In addition to original, standalone social posts, the Consultant shall also collaborate with the in-house marketing team to expertly craft long-form, evergreen articles for the Pacific Surfliner blog that motivate action among readers and also reflect the personality, vision, and values of the brand.

The Consultant will be responsible for writing compelling copy, providing editorial direction, and executing deliverables. Existing Pacific Surfliner marketing assets may be leveraged to build posts that share continuity with existing content, however, the Consultant should also make adjustments to improve creative and optimize for each channel (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Features such as Instagram Stories should be leveraged to broaden the content mix.

Marketing efforts will be focused on promoting distinct features of Pacific Surfliner route, as well as onboard amenities. Customer communications will focus on consumer-centric messaging ranging from relevant travel tips and emotional visuals to critical service advisories and train status information.

In addition, the Consultant may assist in providing on-demand digital design and development services to support the social media marketing program, which may include graphics, video, and animation with the following deliverables: 

– Job delivery – May include web page design, programming, maintenance, animation, video editing, photo editing, and any other deliverables deemed necessary. Any design assets should be packaged for future design needs, including high resolution JPGs, fonts, and links. 

– Timeframe – Many projects will have appropriate timelines. However, in some cases, projects will require same-day delivery, so the availability of the Consultant will be necessary.

Task 3 Deliverables:

1. A calendar of proposed social media topics for a twelve-month period following the social media strategy

2. Monthly: Eight (8) evergreen social media posts (copy, imagery, implementation, standard post types) to support the content calendar, optimized across channels (variations for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) (96 annually)

3. Monthly: One (1) evergreen blog post (copy, imagery, implementation) supporting the content calendar (12 annually)

4. Monthly: Two (2) premium pieces of content (specialized ad, poll, video story, social media stickers, etc.) (24 annually)

Task 4 – Community Management 

Work with the LOSSAN Agency to engage with current and potential riders on social media, fostering two-way dialogue to strengthen the relationship between customers and the brand, answer questions, and address concerns. Activities may include: 

– Analyzing common questions and complaints from Pacific Surfliner channels and recording responses via a working reference document

– Engage with individuals posting about the Pacific Surfliner on social media through hashtags or tagged locations (proactive messaging). Interact with users who shared nice photos or stories of the experience and get permission to share on Pacific Surfliner channels

– Gather relevant photos and stories from various social media platforms that can be shared on Pacific Surfliner accounts

Task 4 Deliverables:

1. Community management procedures document for determining how the Consultant would support the LOSSAN Agency on proactive and reactive messaging, as well as elevating and documenting interactions.

2. Database of common questions and comments and subsequent responses.

3. Thoughtfully engage with at least thirty (30) individuals each month on various platforms who are posting about the Pacific Surfliner via hashtags or tagged locations (but not on Pacific Surfliner channels). 

4. Build a library of permission-based user generated photography. Engage with at least twenty (20) individuals each month on various platforms to ask for permission to share photos on Pacific Surfliner accounts. 

Task 5 – Paid Media

Develop monthly advertising plans to extend the reach of Pacific Surfliner messages among relevant audiences. Activities may include:

– Provide recommendations for enhancing the setup of the advertising accounts (conversion tracking, audiences, reporting, etc.)

– Research and recommend new advertising avenues on social platforms that are not currently in use by the LOSSAN Agency.

– Provide a monthly plan with strategy, audience targeting, creative, and messaging for advertising on social media channels. Implement and optimized approved plans, and provide reporting on a monthly basis.

– Extend the reach and boost engagement of posts with an ongoing media spend on corresponding social media channels.

Task 5 Deliverables:

1. Monthly advertising plan that identifies top-performing organic social posts that should get extra exposure, as well as target audiences, timelines, and budgets. Include recommendations for advertising placements and/or formats that could provide added exposure, such as Instagram Stories or Instant Experiences on Facebook.

2. At least one (1) optimized advertising placement for social media each month (12 annually). For example, crafting messages, gathering images, and building the ad for an Instant Experience on Facebook.

Task 6 – Reporting and Optimization

Regularly evaluate performance of social media channels and identify opportunities to improve engagement (reach, organic interactions, etc.). Provide reports for the LOSSAN Agency that provides a monthly snapshot of social activity, which may include:

– Summary of key performance metrics, including both organic reach, impressions, interactions (likes, comments, shares, link clicks), as well as paid activity/expenditures

– Summary of most effective types of posts, times of day, frequency, post length, etc.

– Call out most successful posts with recommendations for repurposing/re-sharing

– Recommend opportunities for improvement

Raw data should be captured on a channel level and post level to document detailed performance metrics. This document should be well-organized and easy to update with new rows of data on a monthly basis with summary tables that update automatically. 

Due Date:

Before 2:00 p.m. on March 10, 2020.

Address:

Orange County Transportation Authority

Contracts Administration and Materials Management

P.O. Box 14184

Orange, California 92863-1584

Attention: Donald Herrera, Contract Administrator

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