Alameda County Housing & Community Development Department

Local Government PR Campaign Helps Facilitate the Distribution of $46 Million in Rental Support

Our Client’s Challenge

In the face of an unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, the Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) sought out FCP for crisis communications, website design services, and advertising services to help residents apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). ERAP is a federal program designed to provide relief to renters and landlords who were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to provide them with the resources needed to apply for financial assistance for past-due rent and utility bills.

The website needed to take this complex and bureaucratic aid program and turn it into an accessible and understandable application process, including application instructions, eligibility information, and updates on funding availability.

The Solutions We Offered

FCP began the website project with the Alameda County HCD with a kick-off call to discuss the project timeline and goals. The most important goal was to increase awareness and drive applicants among those who needed assistance the most.

Due to the urgency of the program, we were tasked with creating a brand-new website within a month. We knew that in order to increase awareness and drive applicants among those who needed assistance, we needed to:

  • Create a work plan that laid out the deliverables
  • Conduct an abbreviated stakeholder process
  • Review the existing website and research other jurisdiction’s websites for their ERAP programs
  • Draft a sitemap and wireframe to determine the different pages, content, and plug-ins required
  • Curate a tailored stock photo library
  • Write copy for all the website pages
  • Build visual assets including application flow infographics, process videos, and an interactive data dashboard

The new website was then translated into eight languages, and printable materials on the website could be accessed in 20+ languages. Once the website launched, FCP worked to reach the target audiences by engaging in a concurrent advertising campaign promoting ERAP and the newly established website. The campaign included:

  • Running direct text outreach campaigns
  • Establishing and running multiple Google Ads campaigns
  • Placing ethnic media ads with our partners at GlobalMediaX, a trusted expert on ethnic media
  • Hosting an ethnic media roundtable in partnership with GlobalMediaX
  • Placing billboards across Alameda County in locations where ERAP’s target population lived based on census data
  • Conducting outreach to local media
  • Enacting and implementing a social media strategy
  • Designing materials for in-person outreach like event signage, postcards, posters, and door hangers

All promotional materials drove residents to the website to assess their eligibility, access the application, answer any FAQs, and reach direct support providers.

The Results We Delivered

Our efforts in supporting ERAP in creating their website and promoting their program showed great success. We were able to reach their target audiences and get funding out to those most in need. Our campaigns generated:

  • 48,000 new website impressions
  • 571,000 Facebook ad impressions
  • 54,000 Twitter ad impressions
  • 320,000 print ad impressions in 4 languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog)
  • 381,500 digital ad impressions
  • We partnered with Public Results to send text messages directly to County residents, reaching 51,948 contacts and driving them to apply at a 6.6% click-through rate.

Crisis Communication Planning Wins

Within 6 months, a total of 11,470 applications were received and a total of $46 million in funds were approved, with the highest number of applicants and funds approved during the months when the website was published and social media, direct outreach, and ethnic media campaigns were active.

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ACHCD digital ad variations in english, spanish and chinese

We urgently needed a community-facing website to communicate with the public about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. We needed to work quickly to develop a website to reach renters, community partners, and property owners in real-time as they sought assistance. Alameda County is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the nation. There is no majority racial or ethnic group and over 45% of the County speak a non-English language. It was vital that our website and application portal reflected the County’s diversity in order to serve those in deep need and our partner, Full Court Press, was able to help make that happen.

- Michelle Starratt
Housing Director, Alameda County Housing & Community Development Department

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