Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association
Fix MI State Legislative Maps Project
Goal: Create an urgency in the legislature to support funding to fix Michigan’s aging roads.
Notable Awards & Recognitions:
- 2019 PRSA East Central District Diamond Award for Social Media Tactic
- 2019 PRSA East Central District Merit Award for Media Relations Tactic
- 2019 CMPRSA Award of Excellence for Special Purpose Publications Tactic
- 2019 CMPRSA Award of Excellence for Innovative Tactic
Action Plan & Communication:
As Michigan continues to underfund infrastructure, fixing the problem becomes more and more expensive. To address Michigan’s lack of investment in infrastructure needs, the Fix MI State campaign was launched in 2016 by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) to increase voters’ awareness of infrastructure problems and to call on elected officials to fund solutions.
Primary research was conducted when the Fix MI State campaign compiled 2018 road data by legislative district. Since 2003, state and local road agencies have used a uniform rating system called PASER ( Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating ) to collect pavement data. PASER data had previously only been released statewide. District-specific data highlighted the percentage of poor roads in each state legislator’s home district. This research showed that road conditions are poor in both urban and rural communities and Republican and Democratic districts alike. Secondary research was conducted through multiple studies to identify the scope of Michigan’s infrastructure needs. Each study consistently arrived at roughly the same figure needed to fully fund Michigan’s aging roads: at least $2.5 billion annually. These studies were used to drive home the messaging. Throughout the 2019 legislative session, Michigan elected officials continued to fail to reach an agreement to fund our failing roadways. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer campaigned on the issue of infrastructure with the slogan ‘Fix The Damn Roads’ (# FTDR ) and introduced solutions to address the problem. The Michigan legislature, led by Republican leadership, did not approve the solutions being offered and did not answer with their own solution.
We utilized the PASER data to create 148 unique maps (110 House districts and 38 Senate districts) in a format that visually highlighted the high percentages of roads in poor condition in each legislative district. We recruited business community leaders to drive home the message that underfunding roads impacts our ability to get new businesses to invest, how residents and tourists perceive our state, and ultimately, the perception of elected officials’ ability to be effective.
Consistent key messages for earned and social media were developed and delivered across all communications tactics.
- Fifty-five percent, or 37 out of 67 pieces of coverage (this includes news articles and reporters’ social media accounts) linked back to the maps on the Fix MI State website. This clearly shows that the localized maps drove coverage in on the issue.
- In addition to the successful coverage of the map release, we achieved more than 500,000 views and 10,000 engagements on the social media map advertisements within the first month of the map release. With these results, we exceeded our objectives and secured excellent placement numbers for three weeks after the event, resulting in placements within news sources that have total online readership of more than 15 million, and estimated views of more than 97,000.
- Further, we had legislators’ social accounts targeted by journalists about the poor roads in their district including an interactive table of all of the maps compiled by the media to inform Michigan voters about their road conditions by each legislative district.