Ohio DOT Sets the TikTok Pace

The Ohio Department of Transportation has long been a national leader in producing high-quality, informative customer-focused videos. Among its many programs is the award-winning weekly program, The Loop, featuring ODOT communications pros Erin McBride and Matt Bruning, which has garnered more than 64,000 YouTube views. The content is high quality, consistent and – I think I mentioned this – informative.

But ODOT’s communications team has discovered that TikTok provides a way to reach an entirely new and different audience with its video content that is far beyond the standard YouTube channel.

Thanks to intern AJ Overstreet, who was familiar with the TikTok platform, ODOT discovered that it could repurpose video it was already producing and, in turn, grow the engagement with their content.

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TikTok Is More Popular Than Facebook, Should DOTs Follow?

It’s nearly 2020 and social media has been a thing for more than a decade. So it should surprise no one that social media trends come and go. There was MySpace, Vine, Meerkat, Google Plus , Friendster and … so many more platforms that have faded after promising starts that it is hard to remember them all.

Picking which new platforms are worth the time to learn and develop is a serious question for communications professionals, including those at state DOTs. There are only so many hours in a day, and smart managers have to understand their abilities and anticipate trends worth pursuing and those to ignore.

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State DOTs Find Audiences with Local News Programs

Local television news continues to be Americans’ most popular source for news, according to the annual Pew State of the News Media report. While the overall local TV news audience declined last year, still more than 3.4 million viewers tuned in nightly to watch the evening and late news programs, far outpacing other sources for local news including newspapers and radio.

Most state DOTs use video regularly, but a handful are producing videos that replicate the look and feel of local TV news broadcasts. These news updates typically feature a regular host, or at least a consistent lineup of hosts. And the programs focus on stories about the state DOTs that may not otherwise garner coverage in more traditional media outlets. These state DOTs are reporting their own news in a professional, hosted format that is credible and compelling.

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Getting to ‘Know’: Tools Helping DOTs Reach People During Emergencies

Winter is coming and for state DOTs that means preparing to clear roads and assist motorists. Public information campaigns for years have focused on helping motorists “know before you go” by checking web sites and apps for the latest road condition and weather information. Additionally, officials have urged motorists to winterize their vehicles and to carry emergency supplies.

Traffic backed up on Interstate 5 in Vancouver, Wash., in Feb. 2019. Courtesy WSDOT licensed under CC BY 2.0.

But sometimes things happen – a sudden storm or natural disaster – that are so unforeseen that the transportation system is tied up and motorists are stranded. What communication strategies are in place for those situations?

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