TransComm Announces State DOT Communications Awards Winners

A strategic campaign supporting connected vehicle technology in Utah and a broad-reaching integrated anti-litter campaign in North Carolina grabbed the two top awards in the 2021 annual TransComm Skills Awards that were announced in September during a virtual committee meeting.

TransComm, AASHTO’s Committee on Transportation Communications, sponsors the annual skills awards to facilitate the sharing of best practices and to recognize outstanding communications efforts.

A total of 17 states earned at least one award recognizing outstanding work in a range of communications skills, tactics and campaigns.

Utah DOT earned the Excel Award for best integrated campaign with consultant support for its “Automated Shuttle Pilot Pilot Outreach” effort. The campaign helped educate Utahan about the states first automated shuttle. But midway through the project a shuttle passenger was injured and Utah engaged its crisis communications response plan.

Oklahoma DOT earned the award for best public service announcement from TransComm for its 2021 “Work Zones Are In Bloom” video.

North Carolina earned the Excel Award for best campaign without a consultant for its #DontTrashNC anti-litter campaign. Little clean up along North Carolina highways suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCDOT communication team developed a robust initiative that raised awareness for the issue and reignited interest in the annual volunteer-based Spring Litter Sweep.

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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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OReGO’s ‘Keep Oregon Connected’ Campaign Builds on Strong Video Storytelling

The Oregon road user charge program, OReGo, has a huge challenge. It is leading the nation in implementing a road user charge program, one that is often hard to understand for people accustomed to paying a per-gallon tax at the gas pump.

And in researching ways to connect with their customers, the team at OReGO came to a realization.

“People just don’t get road user charging when you write about it,” said Michelle Godfrey, education and outreach coordinator with the Oregon Department of Transportation, in a recent phone interview.

What people need, Godfrey said, is storytelling. They need a way to have a conversation. And the outreach campaign in support of this new road user charge program, according to Godfrey, needed to answer a single specific question that should very much resonate with anyone working in transportation communications: “What matters to people?”

Said another way … “What’s in it for me?”

Oregon DOT’s OReGO program uses video to connect with people, “Oregonians talking to Oregonians.”
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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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