Case Studies

Client: Sam Schwartz Engineering/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Project: Innovative and Sustainable Seat Belt Enforcement

ODP Meeting Photo – Campaign Team Photo includes: (L to R), Owensboro Police Officers; Liza Lemaster-Sandbank, NHTSA; Cathy Gillen, The Gillen Group; Richard Retting, Sam Schwartz Consulting; and Grady Carrick.

During 2015 and 2016, The Gillen Group worked with Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to create an innovative and sustainable seat belt enforcement campaign in partnership with the Owensboro, KY Police Department (OPD). The goal of the campaign was to work with the law enforcement agency to create a “seat belt community” to serve as a role model for law enforcement agencies in other cities nationwide.
The Gillen Group created a strategic communications plan and worked closely with OPD to implement many of its components to promote seat belt messaging among the local media and the community.

Working hand in hand with OPD, The Gillen Group assisted with the creation of a customized seat belt campaign logo and message, as well as the formation of a community-wide seat belt coalition.

As part of the one-year implementation phase of the project, The Gillen Group worked with OPD to plan and conduct two major media events, one on October 15, 2015 to launch the campaign, and one on November 15, 2016 to celebrate the successes of the campaign’s first year.

Campaign Logo and tagline developed by Sam Schwartz Consulting and The Gillen Group.

For the launch event in October 2015 OPD decided to announce the campaign in conjunction with a Buckle Up for a Buck event that was held at a local McDonalds. Officers at the event rewarded drivers for wearing their seatbelt and also provided drivers an educational handout about the importance of seat belt use. OPD Police Chief Art Ealum was available to media for interviews before, during and after the launch event.

The Gillen Group assisted with earned media outreach for both of the events as well as throughout the year which resulted in extensive local media coverage including stories on all local area television stations and several stories in the Messenger-Inquirer, the major daily newspaper with a daily print circulation of 25,000 readers, as well as various other media outlets in the area.

The Gillen Group also assisted OPD with social media outreach for the campaign and regularly shared with them ideas for posting on their Facebook and Twitter pages from national and state highway safety organizations such as the National Safety Council (NSC), AAA, Kentucky Highway Safety Office, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Local campaign information posted on both OPD Facebook and Twitter pages included such items as successes of the campaign, photos of the campaign banner at OPD events, seat belt selfies from local high school students, national seat belt statistics, updates on seat belt use rates in Owensboro, and videos created by local high school students.

Client: Greyhound Bus Lines, Inc.
Project: Greyhound and Intercity Motor Coach’s 100th Year Anniversary Celebration

Honorable Victor Mendez, Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation

The Honorable Victor Mendez, Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation, speaks at the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Greyhound Bus Lines and the intercity motor coach industry at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, DC.

In the summer of 2014, The Gillen Group helped plan and execute a commemorative event to honor 100 years of Greyhound Bus Lines and the impact that the intercity motor coach industry has had on transportation and the country as a whole.

The event was held at the United States Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, DC and featured historic motor coaches and a mobile bus museum, as well as notable speakers in the transportation industry including:

  • Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez;
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro;
  • Greyhound President and CEO David Leach; and
  • Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy for the American Bus Association, Clyde Hart.

The celebration focused on congratulating the motor coach industry on their huge success over the years, and showcasing their safety advances and rich history.

The Gillen Group team wrote, distributed and pitched the media advisory for the event and also assisted with logistics.

The event generated significant media attention from a variety of national and local print, broadcast and on-line media outlets including local Washington, DC television station WUSA Channel 9, The Washington Post, and to name a few. The event was also highly promoted on social media including on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Client: National Organizations for Youth Safety
Project: Global Youth Traffic Safety Month 2012

LaHood Speaker NOYS Event

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood addresses attendees of the 2012 GYTSM national launch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

Global Youth Traffic Safety Month (GYTSM) was created by National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and is held every May to raise awareness of and involvement in youth traffic safety. The month-long awareness campaign consists of contests and competitions, youth-led programs, and youth-friendly projects that support and promote higher levels of traffic safety among youth.

In 2012, The Gillen Group headed the effort to generate media attention for GYTSM by:

  • Drafting and issuing a national press release. Over 75 media outlets with millions of viewers around the country picked up the release.
  • Conducting media relations for the national launch press event in Washington, DC;
  • Working with local media across the country to promote community youth rallies at high schools around the nation.

The Gillen Group pitched the national launch event in Washington, DC to both local and national media. Speakers included:

  • U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
  • National Transportation Safety Board Member Robert Sumwalt
  • President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Peter Kissinger
  • Hundreds of youth from across the country including local youth from a variety of Maryland and Washington, DC schools.

The press event was a huge success and media coverage included national and local television, radio, print and online media. Television media coverage included NBC News Channel, all the local Washington DC television stations, COX Television, and The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Transportation TV. Radio coverage included WTOP, the largest all-news radio station in the Washington, DC metro market, and the Washington, DC CBS Radio station. Print and online media included The Associated Press, The AASHTO Journal, Politico, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s blog, The Fast Lane.

Client: American Highway Users Alliance
Project: 2014 Safe Winter Roads News Conference

The American Highway Users Alliance Press Conference

Speakers address the media on the importance of winter road safety at a recent American Highway Users Alliance press conference at The National Press Club in Washington, DC.

In the winter of 2014, The Gillen Group worked with the American Highway Users Alliance (Highway Users) to hold a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC about the importance of safe winter roads. At the news conference, the Highway Users released the results of a new study, Safety Impacts of Using Deicing Salt, to raise awareness of the importance of safe winter road operations, the high economic cost of road closures due to unsafe conditions, and to offer consumer winter road safety tips. The news conference was extremely timely, as many areas in the country were simultaneously experiencing record low temperatures and snowfalls.

The Gillen Group invited all speakers who participated in the event and worked with them to prepare their remarks. News conference speakers included:

  • Gregory M. Cohen, P.E., President and CEO of the Highway Users;
  • Ian Weston, Executive Director of the American Trauma Society;
  • John Townsend, Manager of Public and Government Affairs, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Washington office;
  • R. Keith Compton, Chief, Division of Highway Services, Montgomery County Department of Transportation; and
  • Cathy Gillen, Managing Director, Roadway Safety Foundation (Master of Ceremonies).

The Gillen Group devised and implemented a media outreach plan to raise awareness about winter road safety.

A media advisory was distributed to as many journalists as possible and personally pitched to reporters including those from all of the DC area daybooks, and others from television and radio stations, and major newspapers. The advisory was also published on the National Press Club’s website calendar and hand-delivered and emailed to all media in the National Press Club. Both the Montgomery County, MD public information office and the AAA-Mid-Atlantic public information office posted the advisory on their websites and shared it with their media contacts.

Media attending the news conference included:

  • WTOP Radio, the Washington, DC area’s largest all-news radio station;
  • Scripps Howard Foundation Wire;
  • Capital News Service;
  • Medill News Service; and
  • Cox News Service which covers Washington, DC news and events for 12 television stations around the country.

Journalists from and who were unable to attend the news conference also published stories on the topic.

Media coverage reached more than 16.4 million people through over 300 stories.

Client: Ford Motor Company
Project: Boost America! National Launch News Conference

Boost America! LogoIn early 2000, Ford Motor Company embarked on an unprecedented, comprehensive campaign called Boost America! Raising Kids with Safety in Mind, to increase booster seat use by educating children, parents and caregivers through the schools, the news media and other outlets.

Cathy Hickey Gillen served as Project Director for all aspects of the campaign that included: 1) Distribution of hundreds of thousands of booster seats, 2) Outreach to the safety community and other partners, 3) Extensive media outreach, including two national press conferences and press events and outreach in 23 states, 4) An educational component that included pre-school and elementary school curriculums sent to all schools, 5) A legislative component that included strong support of state booster seat laws, and 6) Assistance to states and automobile dealers to conduct child seat fitting stations.

To launch the campaign, Gillen managed a high-profile national news event in April of 2001 at an elementary school gymnasium full of children in Washington, DC. In addition to Ford, speakers at the event included then U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta; the Chairman of the United Way of America; the CEO of Toys “R” Us, and Boost America! Safety Ambassador Autumn Alexander Skeen.

The press conference garnered 125 million impressions at the national, regional and local levels in all media formats – print, television, radio and Internet – positioning Ford Motor Company as a corporate leader committed to improving child safety in the automotive arena.

At minimum, 912 broadcast stories aired, including 64 national network television stories and an additional 498 stories on affiliate television stations in the top 50 media markets.

Broadcast news stories reached an audience of 84 million viewers including:

ABC’s Good Morning America
CBS’ Early Show
CNN Cable Network – 5 stories
FOX News Channel – 5 stories
New York market – 20 stories
Chicago market – 21 stories
Boston market – 11 stories
Washington, DC market – 18 stories
ABC’s World News Tonight
NBC’s Today Show
CNN Headline News – 26 stories
MSNBC – 3 stories
Los Angeles market – 21 stories
Philadelphia market – 16 stories
Detroit market – 18 stories
Dallas market – 15 stories

More than 12 million print impressions were made including:

Associated Press (AP)
Automotive News
USA Today
Washington Post
Chicago Tribune
Detroit Free Press

As part of its media outreach, Boost America! secured 79 radio interviews in advance of the event. More than 27 million impressions were made including:

ABC Network Radio
AP Radio Network
Bloomberg Radio Network
CBS Network Radio
Metro News Networks
Michigan News Network
National Public Radio
CNN Radio Network

A Boost America! video news release was used in news stories seen by an estimated 32 million television viewers in 150 markets. In addition to earned media, Ford placed full page ads in the nation’s leading newspapers including the Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today. The ads promoted booster seat safety and led readers to the campaign’s website.

Client: Ford Motor Company
Project: Local Media Outreach for Boost America! Campaign

Boost America! LogoFollowing the national campaign launch of Boost America! in April of 2001, Ford, led by the campaign’s Project Director Cathy Gillen, began to take its message individually to states by holding news conferences featuring local speakers including Governors and state legislators, state highway safety officials, secretaries of transportation and commissioners of motor vehicle administrations, regional administrators of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Governors Highway Safety Representatives, and other local leaders in the area of child passenger safety.

In total, Gillen managed 23 state press events, each which included extensive statewide media outreach starting with issuing a media advisory, in both English and Spanish, and personal phone calls to media in the state to alert them of the events. In addition, local spokespeople were selected to conduct media interviews, largely radio, in advance of the event.

As a result of Gillen and her team’s efforts, Boost America! received extensive, favorable press coverage in all 23 states with each event averaging stories in three of the event city’s largest newspapers, an Associated Press (AP) wire story, many of the local television affiliates, and an average of 15 radio interviews or mentions per local event.

In many cases, AP coverage led to additional stories across the state. For example, in Texas, a press conference was held at a YMCA in Austin featuring Governor Rick Perry. AP wrote an article and took a photo of the Governor presenting the first of more than 25,000 booster seats to be given away in the state. The story and photo ran across the state the next day in papers such as the Dallas Morning News (circulation 522,538), the El Paso Times (circulation 75,181), the Waco Tribune-Herald (circulation 40,660) and the Amarillo Globe News (circulation 43,938). One AP print story reached more than 1 million Texans.

Likewise with broadcast, many of the affiliates attending the Boost America! press event supplied a news feed to sister-stations across the state. Known television coverage in addition to the Austin area included NBC and ABC stations in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and the CBS station in Houston.

Client: Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP)
Project: Earned Media Campaign for Checkpoint Strikeforce

Checkpoint Strikeforce LogoIn August of 2002, just before the Labor Day holiday weekend, Gillen helped WRAP launch Checkpoint Strikeforce, an anti-impaired driving campaign funded by a federal grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The campaign was aimed at people between 21 and 35 years old, the most at-risk age group for drunken driving.

Gillen planned a news conference at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, VA that included remarks by the superintendent of the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety.

Press coverage of the launch event included nearly 8 million print impressions including in the Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times and the Virginian-Pilot. Checkpoint Strikeforce was also covered by virtually all major regional radio networks and generated significant radio coverage. As part of its overall media outreach, an armchair radio tour was conducted, which secured 21 radio interviews. In addition to the radio interviews, several radio stations ran PSAs to promote the campaign including COX Radio, Metro Networks, Virginia News Network, Virginia Public Radio and WTOP-AM.

Fifty-nine broadcast stories aired throughout the Commonwealth. Television news stories reached an audience of more than three million viewers including in the Washington, DC, Richmond, Roanoke and Norfolk markets.

Client: Institute of Transportation Engineers/National Transportation Operations Coalition
Project: National Media Campaign to Release National Traffic Signal Report Card

Report Card GradesPlanned and implemented the media release of the National Transportation Operations Coalition’s (NTOC) first ever National Traffic Signal Report Card intended to focus attention and increase awareness among public policymakers of the need for additional attention and resources for traffic signal operations. NTOC is an alliance of national associations, practitioners, and private sector groups including the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Works Association, Federal Highway Administration and others.

Cathy Hickey Gillen of The Gillen Group was responsible for all aspects of the national press conference held on Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, from logistics and speechwriting, to media coverage of the event. Noted event speakers included then Washington, DC Mayor Anthony Williams and Shelley Row of ITE, spokesperson for NTOC.

With careful planning and an integrated print and broadcast media release strategy of local and national media, the news conference generated significant media attendance and was covered extensively by print, television and radio outlets across the country and even in other parts of the world.

Noteworthy media coverage included: a national Associated Press story that was picked up by hundreds of daily newspapers, radio, television stations and websites across the country, a story on page 3A of USA Today, segments on: ABC World News Tonight and Good Morning America, CNN Headline News, FOX News Live with Brian Wilson, CBS’s Osgood File with Charles Osgood and more than 6 local television stories and 25 local print stories.