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    Case study: City of Rialto

    Work has begun to ease congestion on the Riverside Avenue bridge over Interstate 10 in Rialto. Harber Construction workers Saul Castenoa, Jacob Gracia, Janie Barralaga amd Bruce Siekierski remove the railing of the old bridge. The City of Rialto will close this five-lane bridge in April to replace it with a nine-lane bridge. It anticipates finishing the project in early 2012.

    Case Study:              MEDIA RELATIONS
    Client:                     CITY OF RIALTO
    Introduction: In 2010 and 2011 we provided a campaign to increase favorable media coverage for the City of Rialto, working primarily with its Redevelopment Agency. We developed a series of seven press releases for the Redevelopment Agency highlighting upcoming projects and existing city assets for which the agency had helped secure funding.
    These press releases are posted  at: http://www.dameroncommunications.com/category/rialto/

    • Rialto Stepping Into Economic Success,”
    • Route 66 Sporting New Pavement In Rialto,”
    • Fergusson Park in Rialto Gets $6 Million Upgrade,”
    • From Blight To Burgers,”
    • Rialto Eases Congestion With New Freeway Bridge,”
    • North Rialto Poised For Development,”
    • “Community Theater In Intimate Setting,”
    • Rialto Makes Foreclosed Homes Great Places To Live

    Research and
    Planning: We met with Redevelopment Agency Director Robb Steel and his designees to obtain the specific information for the press releases. We had already obtained information about the city from having worked with Council Member Deborah Robertson and former City Manager Henry Garcia on previous projects.

    Execution: We released “Rialto Stepping Into Economic Success” on Sept. 16, 2010, “Route 66 Sporting New Pavement in Rialto” on Oct. 1, 2010, and “Fergusson Park in Rialto Gets $6 Million Upgrade on Oct. 5, 2010.” Rialto Redevelopment Agency asked us to hold off on projects later in October 2010, but allowed us to resume work in 2011.
    We then released “Blight to Burgers” on March 2, 2011, “Rialto Easing Congestion With New Freeway Bridge” on March 15, 2011, “North Rialto Poised for New Development on March 24, 2011, “Community Theater in Intimate Setting” on April 25, 2011, and “Rialto Makes Foreclose Homes Great Places To Live” on May 20, 2011. We released these stories to both local and Los Angeles media contacts, and through wire services.

    “From Blight to Burgers” came on the heels of less positive publicity, especially in the San Bernardino Sun, about Rialto’s decision to spend Redevelopment Agency funds on a project that will bring In-N-Out Burgers to that city. The earlier publicity made it appear that Rialto had subsidized the restaurant chain. Our press release brought attention to the current state of the property and the need for Rialto to spend redevelopment funds in order for it to be anything other than a vacant lot. At the time we wrote the press release, a former fire station stood on the property. This fire station was in great need of modernization, and its location near the 210 Freeway made it difficult for firefighters to safely exit the fire station onto Riverside Ave. Since this property had so many problems, the city had decided to build a new fire station (now open) elsewhere. Yet, in order for any other development to occur, $2.4 million to purchase adjacent property, demolish the fire station and upgrade infrastructure for the entire area had to be invested. It also brought to the public’s attention that In-N-Out would be one of three restaurants on the property.

    Evaluation: The San Bernardino Sun’s story derived from “Rialto Poised For Economic Development” went off our intended message. The press release highlighted recent and upcoming economic developments, including green industries Enertech (opened a plant in Rialto in March 2010) and Rentech (plant under construction at the time), and also highlighted Rialto’s proposed master-planned Renaissance Rialto, which will bring both retail and industry when developed in coming years.

    The Sun’s story instead focused on the city manager’s optimism that when the economy improves, the City will not miss out on economic development opportunities, because it has launched a more aggressive and professional approach to marketing the city. Although its focus was elsewhere, the Sun article mentioned all of the projects in our release, and added one more, the proposed Lytle Creek Ranch.  The Rialto City Manager, Henry Garcia, was so pleased with the Sun’s article he arranged to have it placed on the City of Rialto’s website.

    Stories focusing more on our intended message appeared in other local media, including the daily Riverside Press-Enterprise, its weekly Spanish-language publication La Prensa, and several other weekly newspapers in the Inland Empire.

    From Blight To Burgers” resulted in Sun reporter Jim Steinberg interviewing both Robb Steel and Fernando Acosta, the property developer the Redevelopment Agency is working with to sell the improved property to three restaurants. When Steinberg interviewed him, Acosta had reached a point in the negotiations he could name the second restaurant, Miguel’s Jr. Also, the city had just torn down the old fire station, highlighting the need to turn the freeway-frontage pile of rubble into something more attractive. Steinberg’s article focused on the intended goal of the press release, highlighting the likelihood of three new restaurants coming to the property, and listing the same necessary property improvements we had highlighted in the press release.

    Steinberg also interviewed Steel regarding “Rialto Easing Congestion With New Freeway Bridge,” which resulted in two stories, one shortly after the release was issued and another about one month later when Rialto began demolition of the old freeway bridge.  Both stories conveyed the intended message of our release, which is that the new bridge would be far more efficient and attractive, and worth the expense of the project and the inconvenience of detouring drivers away from the Riverside Ave./Interstate 10 interchange for seven months.

    In addition to writing stories that explained Rialto’s message clearly, Steinberg on two occasions contacted Dameron Communications for information about City of Rialto projects we had not been hired to promote, as they did not involve redevelopment funds. We were able to assist Steinberg by encouraging the appropriate city officials to speak to The Sun about these stories.  Due to our work positive stories regarding city projects continues in the Sun in recent times.

    All stories the Sun wrote about Rialto during our campaign also appeared on such news sites for the San Jose Mercury News, the Long Beach Press Telegram and the Contra Costa Times.

    In addition, websites such as Topix.com have generated their own links to these stories, while our placing the releases through wire services has resulted in publication on hundreds of websites worldwide, and in some cases, in periodicals related to the topics of a specific release.

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