Finding the right company
This was a bit more difficult, since Wi-Fi is fairly new; there are not many companies with a 5 year track record. When proposing the idea, people that make the decisions like to review financial statements of a company for the past 5 years. But PDP (Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership) was able to convince the members to go with US Wireless Online.
Pittsburgh also did a great job using all media to market the new product; they used a combination of traditional and online media.
-They placed banners on bridges and wraps on buses
-Attended a Steelers game and received 330 new members from one game
-Created a partnership with Ikea and created an outdoor living room set, that went all over Pittsburgh (including the Steelers game) and educated people on how to use Wi-Fi and signed them up
-Speaking engagements to Convention Planners, to drive more conventions to Pittsburgh because the convention participants can log-on anytime.
-They sent out emails to their PDP email list (that’s how I found out)
-They sent out a Press Release
-The announcement was/is placed on the front page of the PDP website
Because of all of the online and traditional media presence Pittsburgh has received extra regional and national attention. PDP did it right, they used their resources and because of good campaign/marketing management, ended up receiving extra free exposure.
For a city to pull this off, of course as we all know technology comes with problems. The major hiccup encountered with this, was the coding. It was discovered early on that if I logged in at 9am and logged out at 9:30 am, the session kept going until 11am. So when I would try to log-in again in the day it would say I already used my two hours.
This hiccup was promptly fixed and user times are now accurate.
Thank you to Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership for letting me grill him with questions and answers for this article.
At this time Pittsburgh has the largest FREE Wi-Fi system around. Not to shabby for a city I called Wi-Fi lame less than a month ago, huh?