I stumbled upon Bernie Wagenblast’s Shout-O-Matic audio blog this week and immediately was excited about a tool that is being used by the Idaho Transportation Department.
The Public Involvement Planner (POP) is a tool developed by the Langdon Group to help non-communications and public involvement staff think about what goes into a public outreach plan.
Idaho’s POP web site describes it this way, “POP is a tool for analyzing and quantifying public outreach needs, which will ultimately lead to efficient and appropriate outreach management.”
I first heard of the POP tool during the annual TRB meeting earlier this month in Washington DC from Langdon’s Bryant Kuechle. What is exciting about the tool, at least to me, is that it is not limited to just planning projects. Indeed, the Idaho POP has worksheets for corridor planning and environmental planning efforts. But it also includes worksheets for construction projects, non-construction projects and emergencies.
Ultimately, every state and local transportation agency should have a process to help put together communication plans. If yours doesn’t, consider creating one.
The Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting is one of the most interesting gathering of transportation experts. Each year more than 11,000 people who work in, around and on transportation programs visit Washington DC for a nearly week-long exploration of all things transportation.
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.
I was running with a friend the other day and we were talking transportation. I do that a lot.
Run and talk transportation.
But this time, my friend and I were specifically discussing the unique nature of being a communications professional in an engineering world. Some times, the engineers just do not understand what we do. They, generally speaking, do not always value what communications professionals offer in a transportation organization.
And, in the midst of the conversation in which was trying to describe living with such challenges, I came to a realization.
It’s all about the data.
Let me explain. And, if you are an engineer, please just follow my logic here. This is NOT an engineer bashing column.