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King County Metro – Operator Recruitment Campaign

Seattle, WA is the only major US city to have recorded ridership growth in 2018. Over the past several years, the demand for transit has continued its steady increase with rising population and industry. Seattle transit agencies are having to think strategically about recruiting transit operators to fill existing, new or expanded positions to meet present and future demand. This issue is compounded by record-low unemployment, a workforce aging into retirement and a younger generation that hasn’t been conditioned for the rigor of transit operation. King County Metro (KCM) contracted DH in 2018 to recruit new part-time transit operators. With the upcoming Viaduct closure in January 2019, as well as a service change being implemented in March 2019, KCM needed a campaign that would successfully return quality applicants to hire as drivers to fulfill demands.

I Have Drive.

Working toward the goal of recruiting highly motivated and qualified applicants, DH performed primary research with Seattle-area job seekers and asked them what they were looking for in a job: full-time/part-time, type of positions, what they valued in an employer, and more. For campaign inspiration, we also asked them what type of employee they wanted to be. The responses informed our approach. Motivated, responsible, dependable, passionate, confident—these were just some of the attributes that rose to the top of the list and helped us shape a target persona around an individual who is, simply put, driven. Around these attributes and with a driven persona in-mind, we developed the campaign concept with KCM: “I Have Drive.” The goal was to showcase real operators, highlighting how their jobs at KCM fit into their lives and support their individual goals as people. We wanted these drivers to be as relatable as possible to the applicant pool.

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The campaign highlighted King County Metro operators in confident poses, and in their street clothes in some shots. With the help of our friends at Kindnss, we delivered fresh shots of their operators and showed the drivers’ human side. We conducted a 2-day shoot in Seattle with 11 different operators of varying seniority and cultural backgrounds. From KCM’s first Ethiopian woman driver, Alem, to beloved Tyrone (a 25-year Metro veteran who spoke about putting his son through college on a Metro salary), we showcased some of KCM’s treasured operators. Although 15-seconds seemed like such little time to showcase these incredible people, KCM signed off on 15-second videos for each of the operators we interviewed (yes, we fit 11 interviews, b-roll of all 11 operators and photos all in two days!).

Great pay. Solid benefits. Paid Training.

In our pre-shoot calls with operators, we unearthed their motivating factors. We learned what elements of the job were most attractive and how we could best recruit. This became our campaign messaging. Each of the 11 videos has a unique storyline – one operator talks about the flexibility of part-time work, another talks about the confidence you gain and the great training you receive for how to drive the bus, and another talks about the career advancement opportunities at Metro.

The Media Strategy.

Our media buy strategy, while seemingly a “simple” combination of Facebook/Instagram and programmatic ads, was fairly complex. We worked with KCM to identify six different demographics they want to grow. Using Census data, we set a maximum household income level and cross-referenced zip codes with King County social justice and equality data to create unique targeting for each of our six different audiences. This was a highly detailed strategy aimed at delivering results for KCM.

In the end, DH delivered an impressive suite of materials. KCM now has a print ad, rack card, poster, newly updated landing page, 11 different videos, social media graphics and copy for Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and additional b-roll and photos for long-term use.

Check out the recruitment page here

“That’s my bus driver!”

The organic reach and engagement of these ads was so effective in immediately returning a strong applicant pool that KCM requested we halt the campaign two-thirds of the way through the buy due to the ads being “wildly successful” in generating potential hires. Positive engagement with the ads over social media was consistent throughout the campaign, with several people tagging friends encouraging them to apply. Some of our favorite comments include “That’s my bus driver!,” or “That’s my man Tyrone!” or “God bless you Alem.” Many of the drivers were mentioned in hundreds of comments. Kudos to the King County Metro operators who chose to be a part of this project. Their willingness to share their experiences made this campaign a success!

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