OneBusAway is a free app that allows you to track real-time transit information, in particular real-time bus schedules by bus stop location. It started as a research project at the University of Washington that has now been picked up by other transportation research institutions. As an open-source real-time transit information research initiative they use promotional activities to illicit awareness to grow the number of active users and share findings within the research community. It initially began in the Puget Sound area and has now grown in use to other regions/cities around the country.
PR activities they are involved in are geared more towards the top of the funnel to increase awareness and interest with new users and the research community. I first heard of OneBusAway by word of mouth a few years back and that continues to be a PR channel for them. It’s a simple but power app and has saved me a ton of time waiting for buses. Outside word of mouth, their other channels for PR have included press releases and tech awards. They have been written up in a number of online newspapers and news sites, including Seattle times, New York Times, ChicagoMag.com, MyNorthwest.com, and many others. They have also operated a blog since 2008 where they have published regular updates. The numerous tech awards they have won also bring attention to their research objective and the OneBusAway app to increase the user base. They also use social media such as twitter (yet infrequently) to give short blips of information. And they also use academic publications to educate the research sector on their work, share research findings, and encourage others to build on their open-source software.
One way to improve their PR and community management activities would be to encourage a real-time dialogue more frequently with users via twitter, a blog, surveys, or add a feedback section on their app that allows them to illicit and get feedback from users on user experience and recommendations for improvement.