Why is Twitter so popular with transportation communicators?

Last July, AASHTO asked state DOT communication officers to complete a brief survey about how states are using social media in their communication efforts. While we are beyond calling these tools “new media” they remain new enough that tracking their use and adoption seems like a good idea. The resulting report, released in August, provides a quick snapshot look at the ways in which social media tools are being used by state DOTs.

There were a couple of interesting insights gleaned from the survey results. Perhaps most significantly, Twitter is perceived by most (nearly 49 percent of respondents) as the most effective social media tool for reaching DOTs prime audiences. Facebook was cited by only a third as being the most effective tool. Linkedin, podcasts, video, blogs all were cited significantly less as being very effective.  Continue reading “Why is Twitter so popular with transportation communicators?”

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Your customers are mobile, are you?

Transportation is about movement. If you are in the business of communicating about transportation, understanding movement seems about as basic a skill as you might need. Yet, many of our colleagues in the business are slow to realize that our audiences are now more mobile than ever before.

Research suggests that as many 80 percent of American adults use the internet in one way or another. Nearly 60 percent of internet using adults access the internet wirelessly. Expect that number to climb significantly thanks to all those iPads, Kindle Fire, e-readers, iPhones and other smartphones sold during the holiday shopping season.

What does that mean for transportation communicators? A significant percentage of your core customer base is mobile. The people who make up that base will expect you to be mobile too. Continue reading “Your customers are mobile, are you?”

Resources for transportation communications pros

In recognition of the holiday season, I thought I would offer my colleagues in the transportation communication world a few of go-to resources for staying current and informed about what’s happening in our world.

Transportation news:

Before you can communicate about transportation, you have to know what’s going on around you. Of course there is AASHTO Journal and AASHTO’s Daily Transportation Update, which I highly recommend (along with AASHTO Mobile, available for Android and iOS).

Here are a few of the better industry blogs covering Capitol Hill:

Continue reading “Resources for transportation communications pros”

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).