In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment and recognize a few things for which we in the business of transportation communication should give thanks.
Technology - In the late 1990s, I was new to government public relations, having recently left my job as a newspaper reporter. Often, I traveled around the state of Arizona with my boss, the director of the Department of Agriculture. Few reporters had email. Fax machines were the quick way of delivering information. To get a news release out to media meant several hours of fax machine calls. I carried a three-ring binder that held all my reporter and industry contacts. It weighed about five pounds. I often phoned news rooms with updates because it was faster to do that than actually send a news release.
One person’s waste is another person’s gold. Take my neighbor, for instance. He moved an old barbecue to the curb a few months ago. I was more than happy to roll it to my house and give it to a friend, who did not have one.
Perspective and context matter, especially in communications. So, I read with some sadness a report looking at the federal government’s efforts to communicate via mobile apps. The critique of federal government apps comes from the organization Citizens Against Government Waste, which recently issued a report that was critical of “duplicative” apps, and the inability to easily discern the true development cost of mobile apps. The report also questions whether it is generally a good policy to build mobile apps specifically for a single platform — for instance, an app that only works on an iPhone.
I do not want to quibble with the report. Nearly all of its assertions are based on the perspectives of the CAGW agenda and that is not really my concern. I was disheartened at the tone of the report, which might suggest that mobile outreach is not necessary. And on that point I heartily disagree. Like with my neighbor’s barbecue, I see value where others see waste.
Last July, AASHTO asked state DOT communication officers to complete a brief survey about how states are using social media in their communication efforts. While we are beyond calling these tools “new media” they remain new enough that tracking their use and adoption seems like a good idea. The resulting report, released in August, provides a quick snapshot look at the ways in which social media tools are being used by state DOTs.
There were a couple of interesting insights gleaned from the survey results. Perhaps most significantly, Twitter is perceived by most (nearly 49 percent of respondents) as the most effective social media tool for reaching DOTs prime audiences. Facebook was cited by only a third as being the most effective tool. Linkedin, podcasts, video, blogs all were cited significantly less as being very effective. Continue reading →