Appeal to Bay Area DIY’s reduces costly sewer backups

Be Sewer Smart Campaign. It was not a sexy subject. No one wanted to talk about it, but both the frequency and cost of sewer backups were skyrocketing – a multi-million-dollar problem. Essentially very limited public outreach such as bill stuffers were not reducing the problem.

Our research revealed that homeowners – the last line of defense in backup prevention – were not engaged in combating the problem and were unaware of the risk of sewer backups and what they might be doing to prevent them and protect their homes. Public Works Dept. teams in Bay Area cities were not equipped to educate homeowners. Sewer backup prevention was a complex and somewhat foreign subject that needed to be communicated to diverse audiences.

We launched an ongoing phased public education program driving traffic to the Be Sewer Smart website. Campaign reached thousands of target-audience homeowners prompting them to take the risk assessment test and request, and install, free backup prevention devices.  

We also distributed public informational brochures and free backup devices to cities around the Bay and their teams at our annual Be Sewer Smart Summit. Sewer backup claims decreased by 75% over the first three years for ABAG PLAN members and by 85% by year eight. Program won prestigious Northern California Silver Anvil Award for Public Affairs Program. Managed program for eight years from logo to website to press conferences, brochures, video and annual educational summit.

What we did:
  • Produced Public Relations Plan & execution strategy
  • Developed Sewer Smart Education Programs
  • Created campaign logo &  Sewer Smart website (updated & maintained it for eight years)
  • Annual Sewer Smart Summit event planning & coordination
  • Marketing outreach – cities, public works departments.
  • Consumer outreach – Bay Area homeowners
  • Managed photoshoots, video production
  • Created brochures for public education
  • Produced Press Conferences with county supervisors, ABAG officials
  • Media Relations campaigns included press releases, pitching reporters, followup
  • Email marketing program
  • Production of all summit materials; wrote speeches, including for Mayor of Oakland and President of ABAG
  • Management of A/V and all speaker presentationsABAG asked Working Images to be a member of the Bay Area Earthquake Preparation committee as the sewer system consultant. Attending these meetings led us to realize that in a worst-case scenario and the water is shut off, Bay Area residents needed to know how to use the toilet and dispose of the waste. Again, not a sexy story. We had to lighten up the subject!

Brochure – Don’t Let your Toilet Turn on You

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