It’s the holiday season and a time to take stock and be thankful for the year that has passed and, in turn, to look ahead in anticipation for what is still to come. It is with that spirit that I offer up a few items that, as a transportation communicator, I wish for in 2015. Continue reading “What this transportation communicator wishes for in a new year …”
The fifth annual state department of transportation social media survey results were released last month at the annual meeting of TransComm, the AASHTO Subcommittee on Transportation Communications.
(Editor’s note: Full disclosure, I work at AASHTO and oversee the annual survey of state DOTs. Much of the discussion below comes from observations while reviewing raw survey data.)
The survey, started in 2009, confirms what we all probably already suspect. State DOTs are heavily invested in social media outreach both in the operations and public involvement areas. The 2014 survey confirms that not only are the state DOTs utilizing social media tools, many are doing so at a very sophisticated level.
Continue reading “Annual Survey Shows States Still Driving Toward Greater Social Media Usage”
There is little doubt that the proliferation and variety of mobile devices is influencing the ways in which people seek and consume information.
The trends and behaviors are becoming so obvious that major media organizations like the New York Times are customizing their content based on the type of device that is used to access the information. We’re not talking about simply making content accessible across platforms, but rather altering and customizing the content itself to fit the prevalent media consumption behaviors of each type of mobile device.
For example, the Ottawa Citizen this week announced that it would publish unique content on four different media platforms – news print, online, tablet and smartphone.
Transportation communications professionals are constantly challenged with trying to reach the right audiences with the right messages. Public involvement experts take that challenge a step further – trying to develop a dialogue with key communities potentially affected by a project or plan.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is working on a public engagement toolkit and they are looking for input and comments from practitioners prior to the tool’s public launch, which could come as soon as May. Continue reading “Public Involvement Tool Needs Your Thoughts, Opinion”
An interesting study recently published in the journal Political Communication studies the level of civic engagement following the closure of daily newspapers in Seattle and Denver. The paper, Dead Newspapers and Citizens Civic Engagement, by Lee Shaker asserts that civic engagement in Seattle and Denver dropped from 2008 to 2009 after the Seattle PI and Rocky Mountain News closed their doors.
It is an interesting research effort that uses data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the United States Census Bureau to analyze year over year participation in activities such as visiting a politician or attending a community organization meeting, such as a PTA or neighborhood watch group.
I was running with a friend the other day and we were talking transportation. I do that a lot.
Run and talk transportation.
But this time, my friend and I were specifically discussing the unique nature of being a communications professional in an engineering world. Some times, the engineers just do not understand what we do. They, generally speaking, do not always value what communications professionals offer in a transportation organization.
And, in the midst of the conversation in which was trying to describe living with such challenges, I came to a realization.
It’s all about the data.
Let me explain. And, if you are an engineer, please just follow my logic here. This is NOT an engineer bashing column.
Social media sites are so popular that even our children admit they need more time offline. For those state DOTs that are considering how to use social media sites for formal public involvement, there are a few things to consider.
First, acknowledge that at least for now, social media tactics are likely complementary to a good core program. After all, we still have to consider those who are not online. And even with more than 750 million Facebook accounts, there still are a few people who resist the urge to read their friends’ status updates and look at cute pictures of their nieces and nephews. Good social media plans rest atop solid traditional outreach programs, enhancing and enriching the opportunities for public input and, eventually, public decision-making.