Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

The Transportation Research Board hosts its 91st annual meeting here in Washington DC, January 22-26. You can expect the city to fill with thousands of transportation policy experts, engineers, planners, consultants … and … a few dozen communications persons. The largest transportation meeting of the year does not focus on communications specifically, but thanks to some leadership within the TRB committee structure there are some excellent sessions worth attending. You can find an entire listing of the TRB annual meeting agenda online.

Here’s a shameless plug for a session in which I’ll be participating, “Building Your Professional Network in 140 Characters or Less: How Social Media Tools Can Enhance Professional¬†Networking.” The session takes place Sunday, Jan. 22 and it includes a well-rounded lineup of experts who can talk specifically about how they are using social media tools in their transportation communication practice.

Creative safety messaging

State departments of transportation do quite a bit of work throughout the year trying to help people understand the importance of driving safe. This creative effort by Ohio Department of Transportation incorporates Twitter, Facebook and YouTube into a fun holiday safe driving campaign.

Content Marketing … We Are The Media

For transportation agencies, whether you communicate about the highways or the buses or the bike lanes you are creating important and highly valuable content. Your customers – the system users – seek the information you have. When will the bus be here? Can I drive the interstate or should I take an alternate route?

But have you thought about how you use that sought after information to grow your audience for your organization’s key message?

Continue reading “Content Marketing … We Are The Media”

Engineering talk: Explaining transportation from the users’ perspective

One of my favorite state transportation department blogs is written by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The latest post explains impact attenuators. I don’t need to explain impact attenuators because ADOT already has, and in a very understandable way, too (see story).

I enjoy the Arizona DOT’s blog because it is written from a driver’s perspective. It tries to answer those same questions that people ask themselves when they are motoring down the highway.

Meanwhile, most of us in the transportation business spend a lot of time communicating about transportation from the perspective of engineers and policy experts. We “push” information in order to sway public opinion in support or opposition of a specific idea. Arizona DOT seems to trust the value of explaining what’s happening on the road – from the view of the transportation user.

Focus group research conducted in fall 2010 seemed to indicate that talking about transportation in this way increases the likelihood of public support for additional transportation funding. That alone might be reason for more of us to consider writing as if we were driving (or walking or riding or biking).

Hello transportation communicators!

Welcome to the first post of Talking Transportation, a running discussion of the latest news and information about the practice of communicating about transportation. Social media, news releases, strategies and tips, the latest research … you you will find all of that here.