Can you hear me now? Taking time to evaluate the communication effort

RTG79RqTLRegardless of where we work in transportation communications — state or local transportation department, transit agency or special interest group — we all have messages to deliver and stories to tell.

Have you ever asked how that was going?

Sure, we can track how many news releases we write and some even go further and track what publications actually print stories that include mention of our agencies. But how can we track whether our messages are really getting delivered? Are people really listening?

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Talking Time: US Times Zones and Other Oddball DOT Stories

pugg-wall-clock__13080_PE040801_S4Departments of transportation have all kinds of responsibilities that go far beyond filling potholes and making sure the traffic signals are synchronized. During my time at the Washington State Department of Transportation, I was constantly amazed at the variety of projects and programs that were carried out by the dedicated agency staff and consultants.

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Media relations and the ‘social’ evolution

Angel with mobile phone

Angel with mobile phone (Photo credit: Akbar Sim)

I was having lunch with a reporter friend this week and he casually mentioned something that nearly knocked me off my seat.

I am a former newspaper reporter, having worked deadlines and ink before the Internet became a common tool. Working a beat meant I left the newsroom and wandered through the local city hall and county courthouse. Not only did I know my story subjects personally, I could see the family photos on the walls of their offices and often talked about what they did on weekends outside of work. I talked to them regularly on the phone.

That was also in the mid-1990s before September 11, when access to government officials was much easier than it is today. In fact, I rarely recall worrying about media relations officers as filters, relying on the local police sergeant for tips and the state DOT press office for standard road closure alerts. But of course all that has changed.

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