It was only a handful of years ago that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, my work-day employer, began polling its member state departments of transportation about their growing implementation of social media tools.
In 2009, less than half of states used Facebook and then most were tepid in their level of engagement. The dominant tool for state DOTs was Twitter, but it was used almost exclusively for sharing roadway traffic conditions and emergency information.
Continue reading “New AASHTO Report Shows State DOT Social Media Trends”
The difference between outstanding and blah sometimes comes in subtle ways. In this powerful video posted recently by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the excellence is obvious – if you look.
The video takes place at a baseball stadium. The host interviews people, asking them how much alcohol they have consumed. Then, she asks each person whether they would be willing to drive. Then, she has them use a personal breathalyzer to test their blood alcohol level.
Continue reading “Colorado DOT’s ‘Ballpark Guessing’ Aims to Get Everyone Safely Home”
In Oregon, 75 percent of drivers admit to driving distracted. Nationally, at least that many drivers are eating, shaving, putting on makeup, texting, reading the newspaper … while driving a vehicle.
“As a culture I think we’re ready for a change,” said Tom Fuller, Oregon DOT communications manager, in a recent news release announcing a new statewide campaign there intended to help people drive more safely.
“The stories of deaths and injuries from distracted driving are as horrific as they are preventable,” Fuller added.
Continue reading “Oregon, Washington Take on Distracted Driving Epidemic with New Campaigns, Tougher Laws”
The Associated Press headline sounded ominous: “Michigan government accounts block hundreds on Twitter.”
After a lawsuit was filed against the Trump Administration for blocking Twitter users, the Lansing State Journal decided to look at government accounts in its home state. It found that state agencies had blocked accounts.
A few paragraphs into the story, there was this line that pointed directly at the state DOT:
“Records show that while some government accounts didn’t block anyone, the dozen accounts associated with the Michigan Department of Transportation blocked a combined 550 individual Twitter handles.”
Continue reading “Michigan’s Social Media Strategy Defuses Potentially Difficult News Story”
The iPhone turned 10 last month. As Steve Jobs began to introduce the iPhone at the MacWorld conference in 2007, he said, “We’re going to make history together today.”
That certainly was true. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, but it revolutionized how people communicated and how they sought out information – two things that have largely reshaped the ways in which communications teams within transportation departments do their work.
In 2007, a DOT team with which I worked teamed up with a local utility company to insert construction announcements into monthly water bills that went to residents near a major project. It was expensive and time-consuming. And, we had no way of knowing whether the people who opened the utility bill even read the notice.
Continue reading “Happy Birthday iPhone: Tech May Change, Good Communications Remains the Same”
It is no secret that state DOTs throughout the country have become adept communications organizations. The focus in many DOTs is turning away from the road to toward the people who use the transportation system – all its modes and priorities.
Whether you find yourself at a gathering of bridge engineers or environmental planners, the topic of communications has a good chance of being discussed. Continue reading “Taking A Look Inside: Survey of State DOTs Offers Glimpse into Internal Comms”
There is a common tendency among most transportation agency communication teams to overlook one of their most important audiences – the agency employees.
Internal communications is tough, whether it is done for a major corporation or a transportation agency. The organization is generally spread across a large geographic area. Employees in different work groups and geographic areas might have different access to, and comfort with, different communication technologies. And, at the end of the day, the communication team kudos for a job well done most often come from external communications with media or the general public. Continue reading “New CEO Video Series Targets ADOT Employees”