When Alan Leeson sat down with his team to work out how they could put their tiny Shire of Moora on the map, he never dreamed the answer would be a video of the council laying bitumen.
That's why the Shire’s CEO was “pretty staggered” when drone footage of a dirt road in the shire being bituminised went viral, attracting interest and admiration from around the world.
At last count, the video has been viewed a staggering 16,800,914 times and shared almost 400,000 times. The video was uploaded to the council’s Facebook page
in December, but Leeson tells intouch
that it really started to gain momentum during the Christmas break.
The story has been covered by Australian media, but also the Guardian, Huffington Post and Pedestrian TV. There are more than 6000 comments on the story, with many praising the crew’s efficiency and comparing the works to those in their own country.
The Shire now has the second most ‘liked’ page for a WA local government – second only to Perth.
The mesmerising footage shows a drones-eye view of the finishing touches being made to the 4.9km, $443,000 upgrade to Airstrip Road, funded through the Roads to Recovery program.
“We really just did the video to give our local ratepayers some understanding of what we do, and this is the result,” Leeson says.
It’s a result that has baffled the council – they initially thought they had been hacked when the video went viral. Leeton puts the video’s popularity down to the contrast of the WA landscape with the clean lines of the bitumen being sprayed, while some news sites have described the footage as “oddly satisfying”.
Either way, for a town of 2500 people, it’s a welcome windfall.
“It was only before Christmas in the strategic planning that we were talking about how to put Moora on the map – it was never intended that this would be the solution, but it’s been really good!”
Leeson says the drone was purchased to educate ratepayers about the council’s projects.
“For a $2000 drone, I think it’s well and truly paid for itself,” Leeson laughs.
“It was really just to bring a different aspect to marketing – when we have our various community events on we’ll try and use it.”
For Leeson, the “most pleasing aspect” is seeing the council’s public works team receive international recognition.
“It’s not too often local government gets some positive kudos; generally we bear the brunt of complaints and bad news,” he says.
“It was good to get that bit of recognition for the staff; they were pretty chuffed by it.
“We are there for the public benefit and all our staff do a great job.”
Leeson says framed copies of the video’s media coverage will “probably” go up in the workroom now.
If the video’s wild popularity has taught the council anything, it’s not to underestimate people's interest in public works.
“We too often probably take what we do for granted – we think it’s just another day,” Leeson says.
Moora’s task now is to make the most of the opportunity.
“The 65,000 followers that we’ve got on Facebook now makes us think a bit about how we manage our electronic media and how we can capitalise on an unforeseen opportunity,” Leeson says.
Check out the video here: