Transportation agencies are constantly innovating to meet the needs of an aging system, a declining revenue stream and an evolving customer base. The FHWA Highways for Life program earlier this year published a document, “A Guide to Developing Marketing Research for Highway Innovations,” which is intended to help transportation agencies “understand the needs, wants, and values of their existing customers and potential customers and us that information to make better decisions.”
While I believe that most agencies already use some kind of research when deciding whether to pursue programmatic and operational innovations, the guide should prove a very useful resource for the transportation communications community.
Filled with anecdotes and case studies, the manual is a solid introduction to marketing research. It will explain things to consider when deciding on the types of research you might need, whether you will need to bring in a consultant and even some strengths and weaknesses for various research methods.
Whether you are a seasoned communication pro, or just getting started, the Highways for Life guide is worth checking out.
In transportation circles we tend to talk among ourselves a bit. Those in construction, planning, engineering and operations all understand the reasons why a robust transportation infrastructure is important to the national economy and our quality of life, largely because it is important to these industries’ economies and qualities of life.
What we can miss is the broader coalition of advocates who can offer a much more credible commentary on the situation. In this video, the National Retail Federation does an excellent job telling the story of how 420 million packages will be shipped this holiday season. And, those packages are not moving to your doorstep by drones. It takes a dynamic and dependable transportation system for our economy to move.
So, next time you find yourself looking at your coalition of support, ask the simple question, “Who are the customers?” It will keep you focused on the best messages and you will find a deeper pool of advocates than you might have first imagined.
Editor’s note: Many thanks to the National Retail Federation (@nrfnews) and Steven Schatz (@stephenschatz) for passing along this video.
Every so often I am asked to share some thoughts on social media, transportation communications, public involvement and other topics that we tend to tackle here at Talking Transportation. Wednesday was one of those days and it was a delightful 90 minutes or so of hearing about powerful social media tools and ongoing transportation-focused social media research that is underway.
“Social Media and ITS,” sponsored by Thinking Highways included presentations by several experts in research and transportation issues including Larry Ehl, publisher of Transportation Issues Daily, and Andy Palisanamy, well-known among social media folks as @TranspoGooru. I won’t rehash too much here, but I encourage you to check out a recording of the webinar. You will need to register your name and email address, but I think the content is worth it.
Social media as an accepted stand-alone public relations practice remains just a few years old, but for some reason I still find it easy to think that there is little new under the sun.
After all, if we break apart social media into their functional pieces the actual act of sharing information today is not much different from it was when the young PR industry was ruled by guys who walked newspaper newsrooms drumming up interest in their clients’ news. Continue reading →
In communications, it is always best to deliver messages where the most critical audiences are most likely to see it. For a transportation agency, that means catching riders and drivers with the key message while they are act of using the system.
So, when you want to talk about traffic safety, where is the best place to deliver your message? On the road.
The survey, which is conducted each spring, asks state departments of transportation about their use of social media tools and issues related to deployment of social media tools as a way to measure the adoption, implementation and best practices for the industry. (Editor’s note: Full disclosure time. I annually help write the survey and help analyze the results of this report for AASHTO, which is my employer).
This year’s report found that nearly 90 percent of respondents are using both Facebook and Twitter accounts to communicate with the public, by far the most popular social media tools for state DOTs. By comparison, “In 2010, less than half of state DOTs used Facebook and only 26 states had Twitter accounts.” Continue reading →