Last month the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting brought more than 11,000 people to Washington DC to share research and best practices in all facets of transportation. I was fortunate and honored to have a few minutes to talk about how state departments of transportation are using social media in the public involvement process.
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.
Of course, my interest points toward communications and this year specifically I enjoyed hearing from the winners of TRB’s sixth annual “Communicating with John and Jane Q Public” contest sponsored by the planning and environmental group. This year’s competition focused on efforts to engage the public in discussions about transportation finance and related policies.
A new report from the Transportation Research Board‘s National Cooperative Research Program finds that, ”Bringing about a change in attitudes toward highway maintenance and preservation actions will require thoughtful and ongoing communications campaigns by DOTs.”
“Communicating the Value of Preservation: A Playbook” is a well-written primer that state DOTs can use to develop outreach campaigns around the concept of preserving infrastructure. Continue reading
Social media sites are so popular that even our children admit they need more time offline. For those state DOTs that are considering how to use social media sites for formal public involvement, there are a few things to consider.
First, acknowledge that at least for now, social media tactics are likely complementary to a good core program. After all, we still have to consider those who are not online. And even with more than 750 million Facebook accounts, there still are a few people who resist the urge to read their friends’ status updates and look at cute pictures of their nieces and nephews. Good social media plans rest atop solid traditional outreach programs, enhancing and enriching the opportunities for public input and, eventually, public decision-making.