Talking Transportation: From ‘Pothole Palooza’ to the Tweeting Pothole

In 2009, the District Department of Transportation began what, at the time, was a fairly novel way of interacting with the public over the state of infrastructure. What became known as “Pothole Palooza” was quite brilliant. The folks at DDOT told the public to “tweet” photos and the location of potholes and someone with the city would be out to fix it within 72 hours.

The response was immediate and immediately successful. The public responded so well that in 2015, the District announced that it had fixed more than 36,000 potholes during its annual spring campaigns. You can actually see the results and track repairs on a DC DOT map. Continue reading “Talking Transportation: From ‘Pothole Palooza’ to the Tweeting Pothole”

New Research Reveals Messages that Move Public to Support Transportation Investments

onlinepubs.trb.org onlinepubs nchrp docs NCHRP20 24 93 C_FR.pdf
Key themes and messages identified in the new report, “Mobile Messages: Moving People to Support Transportation.”

A new research report published this week by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program offers some insight into how the general public views transportation, and suggests some ways to discuss investments that could generate greater support.

But there are not any “silver bullet” messages that work in every situation.

“Mobile Messages: Moving People to Support Transportation,” analyzes the results of more than two dozen case studies; a survey of transportation agency officials; eight focus groups; and, two dial testing sessions. Continue reading “New Research Reveals Messages that Move Public to Support Transportation Investments”

Talking Environment: Transportation Messaging and Accountability

"Woodsy-Owl-original". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg
“Woodsy Owl” Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Woodsy-Owl-original.jpg

Check your calendars. Earth Day is April 22, just weeks away. This will be the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day, which is commonly referred to as the start of the modern environmental movement.

I remember as a child in the 70s being taught to “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” and I remember the Keep American Beautiful public service announcement that featured a tear falling down the cheek of a Native American as he watched garbage pile up in rivers and streams.

Those were powerful messages that helped shape my view of litter and helped my generation understand that our natural environment was important to protect. Continue reading “Talking Environment: Transportation Messaging and Accountability”

A Road to Reality: Taking Transportation Myths Head On

Longtime readers of this blog know that its focus is on the practice of communicating about transportation. This blog does not attempt to take on the politics of transportation.

Gov. Rick Snyder (left) and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle discuss transportation investment during a news conference. Photo courtesy Michigan DOT.
Gov. Rick Snyder (left) and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle discuss transportation investment during a news conference. Photo courtesy Michigan DOT.

However, in writing about one it is sometimes impossible not to include mention of the other. While that is perhaps the situation here, the interesting strategy behind a particular Michigan Department of Transportation communication effort is worth noting.

Continue reading “A Road to Reality: Taking Transportation Myths Head On”

Transportation Performance Measures: Colorado DOT is Making it Personal

Colorado DOT Web Page Sometimes the little things matter a great deal.

State departments of transportation have focused on accountability and transparency — two common catch phrases in our business — for as long as there have been departments. At least a dozen years ago or more state transportation agencies began focusing on how to communicate in a way that helps the public better understand where their money was being spent.

Continue reading “Transportation Performance Measures: Colorado DOT is Making it Personal”