A regular commentary on the practice of communicating about the transportation industry
Author: Lloyd Brown
I am the director of communications for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. I enjoy running marathons and triathlons, playing guitar and spending time with family. My professional interest is in how social media and new technology shapes the communication relationship between government and the general public. I have a Master’s degree in Communications and Leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Washington State University.
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.
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.
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”
Streaming live events is not necessarily a new idea for transportation agencies. But one state DOT has found that leveraging live streaming capabilities within Facebook can generate huge results.
The Washington State Department of Transportation was one of the first state DOTs to experiment with Periscope, a live streaming service owned by Twitter. The 2015 State DOT Social Media Survey found that about 10 percent of DOTs in 2015 were using either Periscope, or the similar Meerkat, streaming media service.
The Transportation Research Board meeting held annually in Washington DC is among the largest gatherings of transportation geeks in the world. The January meeting typically tops 11,000 attendees with sessions and workshops beginning early in the morning and running well into the evening. The printed agenda is massive and looks and weighs like a major city phone book. The TRB annual meeting is indeed a big deal. Continue reading “Talking Transportation, Innovation”
There is no shortage of creativity in transportation communications. In this example, the folks at Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro – the Portland area regional government – turned to a Northwest icon to help educate motorists about pedestrian crossings.
It was not much of a surprise to the people who work to make the nation’s transportation system safer when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released preliminary numbers showing traffic deaths had increased nearly 8 percent in 2015 to 35,200.
According to the official NHTSA news release, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “We are analyzing the data to determine what factors contributed to the increase in fatalities and at the same time, we are aggressively testing new safety technologies, new ways to improve driver behavior, and new ways to analyze the data we have, as we work with the entire road safety community to take this challenge head-on.” Continue reading “Reversing the Trend: How Will U.S. Reduce, Eliminate Fatal Traffic Crashes”