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“We have had to be creative…”
The Southwest Area Regional Transit District was presented with the 2022 Social Media Spotlight Marketing Award by the Southwest Transit Association (SWTA) on July 26 at the Summer University
Conference and Training held in Rogers, Arkansas.
SWART, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary as a stand-alone transit district, was recognized for a service video that was shared on its social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter. The videos were developed in-house by SWART staff at no cost.
The Mission of the Southwest Transit Association is to strengthen members’ ability to provide public
transportation and mobility services across the region through education, communication and advocacy. Membership in the association includes transit systems from Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
“We were very excited about this award, since other larger transit systems have their own marketing departments and budgets,” said Sarah Hidalgo-Cook, general manager. “They develop professional videos and have the funds to do so. Our staff was inspired while listening to other awardees at last year’s SWTA event. They came back to SWART and developed our own video. I am extremely proud of their motivation and initiative to be creative and diligent.”
The video was developed by Cynthia Rodriguez, assistant general manager; Carlos Mallen, chief operations Manager; Frank Villalobos, security and training technician; and Juan Rodriguez, IT technician. It was produced in English and Spanish.
Due to SWART’s innovation of producing a video on a shoestring budget, Hidalgo-Cook was asked to be a presenter at the marketing session during the conference in which the presentation was entitled “Marketing Your System on Little to No Money.”
The presentation included all facets of marketing SWART’s services from public service announcements, bus wrapping, mobility management initiatives, presentations, Facebook Live, and seeking non-federal funds to support such activities.
“We have had to be creative when it comes to marketing our services,” Hidalfo-Cook said. “Marketing is not an allowable expense under our federal and state programs, so we cannot use these funds to market. “Collectively, SWART staff finds avenues through creative thinking and planning to market our services, she added.
SWART provides services in the counties of Dimmit, Edwards, Kinney, La Salle, Maverick, Real, Uvalde and Zavala. The organization can be found online at www.paseoswart.org or call by phone toll-free at 800-499-1617.