Federal Highway Administration
At a time in our nation’s history when consumption of natural resources is at record levels and the availability of these resources is dwindling, forward-thinking planners are seeking ways to conserve resources for future generations. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed the Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST); a web-based self-evaluation tool designed to help transportation agencies integrate sustainability into their programs, policies, processes, practices and projects. After considerable research-based, field-tested, and analytically refined development of INVEST, FHWA needed to launch the tool in the most effective, low-cost way possible. FHWA hired Sage to brand, market and ultimately introduce INVEST via a virtual launch event, conveying the benefits and opportunities of INVEST to stakeholders and the general public. FHWA’s primary goal for the virtual launch event was to set a positive example of how a government agency can host an impactful event at a minimal cost by limiting onsite attendance. Despite the need to keep costs low, the launch event still had to successfully communicate the benefits, user testimonials, and FHWA leadership endorsement of the INVEST tool.
Our Strategic Approach
Based on FHWA’s objectives for the launch event, Sage developed a master work plan that identified task assignments, deadlines, logistical elements, technology needs, and support materials. We created a full production schedule so that all personnel involved in the planning and execution of the event were working on the same requirements and assumptions.
Sage then began to identify and inventory all content relevant to both the in-person and virtual audience that would be needed for the launch event. That process informed the development of the “run of show,” used for the coordination, narration, rehearsal and production of the entire event. In tandem with the run of show development, Sage also used the content inventory to develop a script for the 90-minute webinar. The script detailed the sequence of all pre-recorded content, live narration, virtual interviews, and both live and virtual Q&A so that all elements would combine to tell a compelling, linear story. Once the run of show and script were approved by FHWA, Sage worked with FHWA to identify, develop and procure all support materials and subcontractors needed to successfully execute the virtual launch of INVEST version 1.0.
One day prior to the launch event, the Sage event management team held an on-location scout, crew call, technology test and rehearsal of the entire launch, which allowed us to fine-tune the entire production and build the confidence of the FHWA narrators who would be speaking live the following day. On the day of the event, the Sage team flawlessly executed a live webcast launch of INVEST with over 50 in-person attendees, and over 720 virtual attendees.
The over 770 attendees for the INVEST virtual launch event surpassed FHWA’s original expectations by more than 500 viewers. In the three months after the INVEST site went live, it received over 22,000 visitors. Sage continues to work with FHWA to educate potential customers – including state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and other private contractors and entities – of the benefits of using the INVEST tool. The more organizations that FHWA can convince to use INVEST, the greater the impact on environmental, economic and social aspects of the planning, building and maintenance of all our nation’s roadways.