Author Archives: Mike Carosi

Lefty Engineer

Lefty Engineers

In our work with engineers we’ve discovered many are left handed, maybe a disproportionately large number. Engineers are tenacious problem solvers. They are also pretty creative. Research tells us these abilities are common among most southpaws.

While maybe 10 or 12 percent of the population are left-handed, why are so many lefties earning their daily bread as engineers? A recent study at Saint Lawrence University revealed that lefties with high IQs outnumber their right-handed counterparts. Lefties think quicker, work well on teams, multitask, and are capable of dealing with large, unorganized streams of information. Engineers need these capabilities.

Australian National University research found that lefties react faster to stimulus, and are skilled at spotting details in patterns. Lefties are also more capable of dealing with sensory overload. So, perhaps many left-handed folks are destined to be engineers.

Engineers know how to explain their work to those in their field as well as others from all walks of life. Engineers often collaborate, as their work is usually a component of a complex project.

Successful engineers respect deadlines. Engineers have the flexibility to handle unexpected challenges, including obstacles that come out of left field. Southpaws are good at anticipating delays and other events that can throw a schedule off track. Their thoughts travel in the left lane—it’s the fast one.

Traditional Advertising

Industry Publication Coverage

One of the most crucial steps in any PR undertaking is identifying your prime audience. For transportation construction projects, one of the key segments of your audience is other industry professionals. While many PR campaigns cater to the general public, don’t overlook the value of sharing your story with your peers. The best opportunity you have for sharing the salient details of your project is in popular industry trade publications, as well as through industry associations, web communities and other networking groups.

Why Media Coverage Matters
When it comes to talking to the media, the more you can do to initiate and guide the conversation, the better. Early on in your project planning, you should be considering how and when you can best benefit from media coverage. Is it during the permit and licensing process— to create a positive influence on local or state authorities? Is it during construction—to generate enthusiasm for the project? Perhaps it’s after the project is completed—to highlight the most impressive facets of the project, calling attention to your organization and generating leads for new contracts. This type of third-party PR is the most valuable endorsement you can get.

Types of Coverage
Your project may warrant a cover story in an industry trade journal. Perhaps it would be a great topic for a Q&A feature on an association website or a featured photo in an e-newsletter. You may even want to pursue a series of features online and in print. Your public affairs partner should map out a strategy that lines up with the timeline of your project, and provides an injection of positive coverage when it counts the most.

The Perfect Pitch
You may already be familiar with the top publications or associations for your industry. But do you know who to talk to about being featured? How to pitch a feature article? How to coordinate the key personnel to be interviewed? This is where a good public affairs partner is invaluable. They will not only come up with a winning pitch—they will sell that pitch and then do all the legwork for you, everything from scheduling interviews to arranging photography to proofing the final piece for accuracy.

For example, Seventh Point’s Transportation PR team worked with the project owner and project team to land  not one but two feature articles about the Gilmerton Bridge project in Engineering News Record and DDC Journal. These features both include full-color photographs, interviews with key personnel and a focus on the unique aspects of this project that have made it such a success.

To see the coverage for yourself, click on the links below :

“Easing traffic: Unique multiparty partnership moves forward with Gilmerton Bridge Project.” DDC Journal, Fall 2013  [Click the link and go to Page 40]

“New crossing squeezes above, below existing span.” Engineering News Record, February 25, 2013

Summary
Getting the industry publication coverage you need is an essential element in a successful PR campaign—but the nuances of negotiating and executing a feature are complex and time-consuming. That’s where your public affairs partner can really shine. You’ll find that even one strong feature will pay continuing dividends in terms of strengthening the reputation of your firm, reinforcing relationships with partners and stakeholders, and generating new leads for additional projects.

Seventh Point Builds Trust

Building the Brand

Establishing a unified and powerful brand, coupled with consistent graphics and messaging in all communications materials, is a crucial early step in a successful transportation PR campaign. Your brand will communicate the project details, impact, and benefits, as well as deliver a clear and concise message and maintain project credibility.

Why Your Project Needs a Brand
When it comes to transportation construction projects, your brand is important because it helps establish a relationship with the public, making your project recognizable. It needs to be clear, memorable and easily reproducible in a variety of mediums (web graphics, print marketing, billboards and signs, vehicle marketing, etc.). A strong brand will pave the way for all future communications with your stakeholders and the general public. In an instant, people will be able to identify your project and understand what you stand for—whether that’s innovation, improving driving conditions, making their commute safer, etc. Your public affairs partner will lead you through a series of branding exercises, breaking down the identity of your project and determining the key attributes you want to communicate. This information will be used to develop a color scheme, logo, website, e-mail graphics, print ads and even a lexicon that you will use to talk about your project in the media.

What is Your Brand Promise?
Your brand has the power to communicate, instantly, specific attributes—strength, reliability, innovation, etc. It can also create a sense of familiarity that engenders trust and loyalty. Inherent in your brand is your brand promise—your commitment to deliver on those attributes. If you establish your brand as industry-leading and innovative, then your end project better raise the bar for transportation infrastructure. If your brand promise is to manage costs and deliver on schedule, then your top priority needs to be finishing on time and under budget. The most powerful brand promise will reflect the specific desires of your constituents and answer their needs. Part of your early information gathering before you even pitch your project should include a look at what the highest priority is for your constituents—easing budget concerns? Finishing within a certain time frame? Addressing those concerns through your brand creates a strong foundation for your PR efforts.

How to Use Your Brand
Reports. Presentations. E-mails. Billboards. Trucks. Polo shirts and ball caps. Simply put, you will use your brand whenever you communicate something about your project, whether in person, in print or elsewhere. Your public affairs partner can show you the strategic ways to leverage your brand to build trust and enthusiasm with the general public and your stakeholders. This should include the key attributes that you want to associate with your project—i.e., easing congestion, improving commuter safety, reducing transit time, updating infrastructure, etc. This will also generate a go-to vocabulary when talking to the media and presenting information to the general public.

Summary
Your project is your brand—and vice versa. A successful brand builds a sense of trust with your stakeholders and the general public, and serves as a shortcut to get your message across in the most effective way possible. Your brand will serve you continuously throughout the course of your project. Every time someone sees or hears something about your project, it should be branded with your color scheme/logo and incorporate your project’s specific attributes.

One of the most important things to look for in a public affairs partner is a strong understanding of brand with a proven track record of successfully branding transportation projects—which is where Seventh Point Transportation PR excels.

Develop a Paid Advertising Media Plan

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “The medium is the message.” While it isn’t quite that simple, choosing the right medium (or media) is crucial to communicating your message successfully. When it comes to paid media for transportation projects, you need know what you want to communicate, designate a medium, and optimum timing to reach to your prime audience and then allocate your media resources and budget to maximize the number of motorists your advertisements reach. When it comes to paid media Seventh Point knows how to create and place advertising to reach motorists in both traditional and digital mediums.

Determine Your Media
Media is all around us—from our cell phones and laptops to TV, radio and outdoor advertising. Unless you live somewhere remote and “off the grid,” media will reach you. Put another way, virtually every member of your target audiences will come in contact with multiple forms of media each day. The trick is determining which media have the greatest impact. It will vary depending on your message. For instance, if you want to announce an upcoming project, you could place print ads, purchase billboards or secure a spot on local TV or radio—all of which will be received in a more passive, “informational” frame of mind by your audience. But if you wanted to send an update about an unscheduled lane closure or some other late-breaking development, you might utilize text messaging or e-mail, more active forms of media that will reach commuters on their smart devices and communicate a sense of urgency. In short: Message will dictate medium.

Paid Advertising for Your Project
Ads are a powerful way to familiarize people with your project and generate interest and enthusiasm, as well as confidence. A strategic media purchase plan for broadcast, outdoor, print and web can effectively reach target audiences about lane closures, project status and scheduling. Paid social media provides a way to reach new audiences and raise awareness for your project through strategic, less overt marketing tactics. In combination with more organic social media tactics, paid advertisement is essential to target messaging blind spots that might not be exposed through other initiatives. Seventh Point can help you identify your media priorities and purchase the perfect ad placements.

Summary
Media is everywhere—which means your transportation project has a strong potential to reach your target audiences. Utilizing paid media, in conjunction with a good public affairs plan is the best way to maximize budgets and reach all impacted motorists. Ideally, your public affairs partner will also have strong, established relationships with local media and with media organizations responsible for billboards, print and online ads. These relationships will work in your favor by allowing your partner to secure more impactful—and often, more affordable—media placement.

Social Networking

Developing Your Communications Plan

Developing Your Communications Plan

Once you have a handle on the target audiences for your transportation public affairs campaign, and a clear understanding of the impact of your project, your next step will be mapping out a Communications Plan. Careful attention should be paid to the unique risks and opportunities pre-construction, during construction, and post-construction. Each of these periods plays a significant role, serving to create, sustain and acknowledge positive public support for your project.

What to Include in Your Communications Plan

Stakeholder Identification: First and foremost, you need to know who will be impacted by the project, and how. This may include, but is not limited to, the following:

-Military Groups/Personnel
-Municipal, Civic and Tourist/CVB Organizations
-Maritime Transportation Authorities
-Utility Companies
-Local/State/Elected Officials
-Emergency Responders
-Area Hospitals
-Area Large Employers and Business Groups
-Print, Broadcast, Online Media
-End Users: Local Business and Resident Motorists and Tourist Motorists

Key Messaging Framework: You’ll want to develop messaging relevant to specific audiences, while ensuring clarity and consistency among all communications vehicles.

Brand Development: Establishing a unified and powerful brand, coupled with consistent graphics and messaging in all communications materials, is a crucial early step. The brand will communicate the project details, impact and benefits, as well as deliver a clear and concise message and maintain project credibility.

Media Relations: A proactive media relations program will be an integral component of the Communications Plan and can include feature articles, broadcast interviews, traffic alerts, lane closure advisories and project construction updates to promote positive news coverage during the project.

Crisis Management/Risk Management Response: A crisis communications and risk management response plan should be developed to anticipate and mitigate any potential situations. Media training for key project personnel is a valuable investment to ensure media readiness.

Public and Community Outreach: Develop and execute public outreach activities to inform key stakeholders of the project and generate positive public opinion.

Media Ad Placement: A strategic media purchase plan for broadcast, outdoor, print and web should be developed to effectively reach target audiences about lane closures, project status and scheduling.

Website: Create a brand-specific website that is updated regularly to inform citizens of the latest project news and schedules.

Social Media: Set up profiles on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram to keep constituents up-to-date on project developments and gain valuable feedback.

DOT/TOC: If possible, work closely with the state Department of Transportation/local Transportation Operations Center to advise them of project updates and lane closures in order to instantly deliver information to motorists.

Program Measurement: A review of data and demographics, as well as monitoring the media and measuring stakeholder engagement, should be conducted at defined phases of the project.

Summary                                                                                                                                           The specifics of your Communications Plan may run the gamut from press releases, online and traditional marketing, media placement, town hall meetings and even good old face-to-face meetings with stakeholders. Those elements will fall under separate branding, marketing and media efforts. But a strong Communications Plan will create the narrative for your PR efforts, leading to a consistency of message and a confidence in delivery that distinguishes a successful PR campaign.

marketing plan

Create a Marketing Plan For Your Transportation Project

Create a Marketing Plan For Your Transportation Project
Look at any successful communications plan, and you’re likely to see a combination of strong media relations and a marketing communications or advertising plan. A marketing plan allows you to control both the content and the placement of the message. This may include a mix of online and offline, print and broadcast, social media and traditional media. 

Marketing 101
Marketing doesn’t mean you’re trying to sell something. It means you are creating awareness to your stakeholders and the general public on the value and importance of your transportation construction project. What you want is their buy-in—you want to create an awareness of your project, and generate interest and support. You will need to sort through your options, and determine which mediums work best for your audience and your project. Traditional print advertising and local news coverage are still very powerful influences, as are billboards, radio and TV ads. But you’ll want to pair them with an informative website and online marketing strategy. Banner ads—which you can link to your website—are a fast and focused way of keeping constituents up-to-date. Eblasts (scheduled e-mails to your contact list) offer another opportunity to engage and inform.

Why You Need a Web Presence
You might wonder why you need a website. Well, the reasons are many. Nowadays, Google is the first stop many people make when they want to learn more about something. You want to make sure they can find you. And when they do, you want to make sure they’re getting accurate, up-to-date information about your project—so you may want to post status reports, photos or even a live video feed from your work site. You also want to give people an opportunity to sign up for more information—they can enter their email address to get newsletters, Eblasts, etc. Finally, you want to give them a way to contact you directly with questions. In many ways, a website is like a modern-day business card—it includes all your important info, and people will share it with others who might be interested in your work.

Smart Social Media
Social media—Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram—can add a powerful punch to your marketing program and help you target demographics that are less responsive to traditional marketing in a nonthreatening way. But the payoff is directly proportionate to how much time and thought you put into it. Social media works when you create and sustain a relationship with your constituents. That requires frequent updates and value-added content that actually means something to your audience. It isn’t about just getting a profile and a photo online it’s about giving insight into your brand and projects, and illustrating how you can make a positive, personal impact for your followers/fans/friends. Before you dive in, consider whether you have the time and resources to make the most of social media. Poorly executed social media marketing can actually create a negative impact on your marketing efforts.

Measuring Impact
There is no point investing in marketing communications if they don’t work, and the only way to find out is to track them. Your public affairs partner should come prepared with a way to report on the performance of your marketing plan—maybe it’s a daily snapshot, or a monthly recap, a quarterly review or all three. But you need to be kept informed. You should pay attention to how often e-mails are opened and links are clicked, how many impressions your banner ads are getting, how many commuters pass your billboards each day, and how many new e-mail addresses have been captured via your website. All of this information will show you how successful your marketing impact has been, and where there is room for improvement.

Summary
A marketing plan is a powerful component of many communications plans. With so many marketing channels to choose from, you will want to direct your marketing budget where you stand the strongest chance of reaching your target audiences. Regardless of the type of marketing you focus on, you will want a website to serve as a “virtual business card” for your project. Seek out an experienced public affairs partner like Seventh Point Transportation PR, who is fluent in online and offline marketing and knows how to accurately track performance—so you can be certain your marketing investment is paying off.

Transportation PR Resources

Transportation PR Resources is a great place to find news on transportation projects whether it’s going on in Hampton Roads or beyond. Transportation PR Resources highlights different transportation projects such as “Millenials and Mobility: Understanding the Millenial Mindset” and “Many Don’t Know How Much They Pay For Roads.” You will find more information on Seventh Point’s transportation projects such as The Gilmerton Bridge Project & the I-64 Battlefield Boulevard Project.

Dowtown, Midtown, MLK

Elizabeth River Tunnels: Downtown/Midtown/MLK

Seventh Point works with Southeastern Transportation Partners (STP) to provide public relations support for The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Our full-time dedicated public information officer works directly with VDOT to manage public relations, marketing, and community relations for Elizabeth River Tunnels. The Seventh Point Public Affairs Team also developed, launched and maintain a custom communications dashboard, which tracks all PR activities in accordance with the client’s agreement and technical requirements. Our outreach efforts to engage community members bring all key stakeholders to the table, including legislators, municipalities, civic leagues, military, and businesses in Hampton Roads. Special focus was given to creating public awareness and managing community relations throughout the right-of-way acquisitions process, addressing citizens’ concerns to prevent negative reactions toward the Elizabeth River Tunnels project.

  • Downtown Tunnel, Midtown Tunnel & MLK Freeway Extension.
  • The Downtown Tunnel connects Dowtown Norfolk to Dowtown Portsmouth.
  • VDOT & Transportation PR work together on the Elizabeth River Tunnels projects.
  • Seventh Point's division Transportation PR is heading up the media for the MLK Freeway Extenstion.
  • The Midtown Tunnel connects the Ghent area of Norfolk to Portsmouth & The West Norfolk Bridge.
  • Transportation PR is currently working with VDOT on The Elizabeth River Tunnels Project.
Seventh Point works with VDOT

VDOT District-Wide Contract

As part of the District-Wide Contract IV, Seventh Point works alongside the VDOT Public Affairs department to execute targeted advertising for various transportation projects across Hampton Roads.  Our advertising and marketing efforts to motorists and key stakeholders about roadway and bridge construction projects effectively raise awareness and inform. Specific initiatives include comprehensive placed media campaigns in print, internet and broadcast. The campaigns are designed to mitigate impact to allow the engineer to remain focused on the construction. Seventh Point also delivers consultative marketing services as needed, including research, branding, strategy and creative design.

 

  • Seventh Point Transportation PR
  • Seventh Point Transportation PR
  • Seventh Point Transportation PR
  • Seventh Point Transportation PR
  • Route 35 Bridge
Seventh Point and I-64 Battlefield Boulevard

I-64 Battlefield Boulevard Project

When the Hampton Roads District needed a strategic plan to manage public opinion regarding the I-64 Battlefield Boulevard Project in Chesapeake, Virginia, Seventh Point collaborated with the VDOT Public Affairs department, the engineers and the City of Chesapeake to create and execute a multi-tiered communications plan and advertising materials. The plan included outreach to businesses, residents, motorists and key elected officials. Advertising included print, broadcast, direct mail and online campaigns. We provided media training for key communicators and remained focused on internal communications to successfully deliver the public relations components. This successful campaign, which also included innovative use of public meetings and “information breakfasts,” garnered favorable news coverage in the local media and a prestigious Pinnacle Award from the Public Relations Society of America.