The two-year research study was completed in December and conducted on behalf of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), which is administered by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. The findings have now been revealed in the Communications Guide for State Departments of Transportation, which is available free through research sponsor the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and from WSP.
“Transportation agencies, as well as public agencies in general, can pull useful strategies and tactics from the guide,” said Darrel W. Cole of WSP, principal investigator for the research project. “Many communicators in public agency roles encounter similar challenges related to staffing, skill sets, having a seat at the table and organizational structure.”
WSP was responsible for the research, writing, providing technical memos, a final technical memo, graphic design and releasing a final communications guide. It was completed on budget, and on time.
“We had a lot of new territory to cover and worked closely with the NCHRP panel that oversaw our work and progress,” Cole said. “Because the panel included communications professionals, we were all able to move in the direction that helped us get to our final product.”
The result was a 50-page guide that provides a wide range of helpful tools, including recommended organizational charts, templates, graphics, important skill sets, recommendations for social media use and performance measures. It also includes the role, purpose, and importance of communications functions and how they should be organizationally structured, coordinated and aligned with agency leadership and goals.
“If fellow communicators and CEOs wish to elevate some aspects of their communications functions and operations, they now have a guide to help them get there,” Cole said. “While targeted to state DOTs, the study findings and the guide itself is relevant for most public agencies.”