It is a common trend among communication offices around the transportation world. We spend hours working with project and program managers identifying target audiences and the key messages that we hope will change behavior, garner support for a controversial idea, or perhaps increase participation in a public process.
But as we look outward toward “the public,” or “elected officials,” we neglect a tremendously important audience — our fellow transportation employees. Yes, do not be surprised if the people with whom you work are among the least knowledgeable about your agencies core messages and organizational priorities.
There are many reasons for this. In my case, I assume everyone reads and consumes information the same way as me (not!). Or, maybe we think that other managers and staff are sharing information with their teams, providing a cascading of information outward from the communication offices. In some cases, we forget that not all transportation employees even use a computer regularly, or if they do it is a shared device.
And, in the age of tight fiscal budgets, internal communication programs are luxuries that few organizations are willing to support.
The folks at the Missouri Department of Transportation are taking the issue of internal communication to a new level, leaving all the excuses behind. At the Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington DC last month, Mara Campbell, MoDOT director of customer relations, shared that her agency had launched a mobile app specifically designed for MoDOT employees.
The app for iOS and Android smartphone devices includes links to the latest MoDOT news releases, informative videos, and headlines about interesting things happening in transportation.
According to an employee message announcing the new app, “Staying connected with department news is critical to employee engagement. Knowing where MoDOT’s headed and what we’ve accomplished helps make the concept of “One Team” a reality. Employee newsletters are great, but receiving information immediately and conveniently can be difficult, especially when trying to reach front line employees out in the field.”
I agree completely, especially the part about reaching employees in the field whether they are transit drivers, maintenance workers or construction field inspectors. But the popularity of smartphones provides more opportunities to catch employees. And that is what MoDOT has in mind for the new app.