Using video well: Michigan DOT uses testimonials when talking transportation

The Michigan Department of Transportation, like a number of state DOTs around the country, have developed very strong video-making capabilities. In fact, the AASHTO annual survey of state DOTs social media usage showed that more than 78 percent were using some kind of online video.

But in this video, MDOT offers a clinic on how to build a narrative using the testimonials of the community leaders involved in a particularly important project in the City of Grand Rapids. There are certainly other effective ways of using video. But with the decline of modern journalism, transportation agencies need to develop two important strategies.

Transportation agencies need to find a voice that can speak directly to the people who use and pay for the transportation systems we build, operate and maintain. We cannot hope that the limited budgets and staffs of our fourth estate will have room for, nor interest in, our stories.

And, transportation agencies need to develop a way to emphasize the third-party endorsements – those ringing “attaboys” that help those system users know that what the transportation agencies are doing is monitored, engaged, respected and ultimately endorsed by a community and its leaders. Using testimonials by local leaders was an effective way for MDOT to show it not only constructed an innovative project, it did so at the request of, and with the blessing and support of, the people who live there.