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Tolling Points

New Media, Communications, and Human Resources Workshop Explores Innovative Solutions

Bill Cramer

Lauren Hakos is Chief Meeting Organizer of IBTTA’s New Media, Communications & Human Resources Workshop, October 18-20, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. In this interview with Tolling Points, she digs into the challenges facing communications and human resource professionals and the solutions they can expect to hear about during the conference.

Tolling Points: What are the most important new media and communications opportunities for tolling agencies, and for the industry as a whole?

LH: The more we can relay accurate information to customers, stakeholders, legislators, communities, employees, and the media, the more credible and useful we are. But it’s a big challenge to find the best communication methods, especially with emerging new media. Traditional media are evaporating, and almost daily, we’re seeing new, trendy, ever-changing ways of sharing our story pop up in their place. It’s vital for our agencies to stay abreast of these dynamic new media possibilities to deliver our messages to our customers and build effective communications strategies.

It isn't just the tools that are changing. People also have new expectations for the quality, quantity, and timeliness of the information they consume. More and more transportation agencies are realizing this and expanding their communications efforts to manage the demand, adding personnel to develop and oversee this critical component of their communication strategies.

Tolling Points: How are these changes reflected in the workshop program?

LH: Transportation is a business, and like all businesses, we have to be ready to change, adapt, and evolve to stay relevant, now and into the future. As an industry, we must keep up with innovative ideas and pave the way for the future, rather than just trying to keep up. People don’t wait for information anymore—they expect it to be readily available to them, and they want it immediately. This entire conference is devoted to learning how to communicate more effectively—through public relations and marketing to customers, stakeholders, and the community, and on the human resources side, when we interact with our employees and other internal stakeholders and partners.

Tolling Points: What issues are human resource managers dealing with in the industry, and what ideas and insights will they take away from the workshop?

LH: Human Resource departments are dealing with many of the same experiences and challenges facing communications and marketing, which is why all the general sessions at this workshop will be applicable to both communities. On the HR side, panelists from inside and outside our industry will talk about staff feedback and understanding the importance of knowing more about our employees—what they want, how they best communicate, what they need to do their jobs more effectively, and how to keep messages consistent from all angles. 

We will also talk about the importance of building agencies’ brands from the inside out. Branding is not just a marketing tool for our customers and the public; it’s about making and keeping a promise to our employees and building a positive culture in the workplace.

Today’s employees have different expectation of their employers. If they’re onboard with the mission, vision, and values of a company or agency, they’ll be all in. But that means bridging the generation gap and helping four generations of employees better understand each other, while attracting new talent.

Tolling Points: How will the networking and informal conversations during the conference advance the industry, and help participants boost public awareness and acceptance of tolling after they get home? 

LH: The time outside the planned sessions is always best opportunity to share stories, successes, missed opportunities and lessons learned with your counterparts from other agencies. That’s where we all get to learn from colleagues—many of them industry experts—who’ve “been there, done that,” and can share heaps of information. I’ve heard so many people talk about the contacts they’ve made at IBTTA conferences, about how those people became their “go-to” contacts when they had questions or needed help with a specific problem. It’s through these networking opportunities that lifelong friendships, mentors, and career champions are developed.

Tolling Points: Is there anything else you'd like to add or address?

LH: This will be an educational and highly participatory conference, with hands-on training, expert moderators, and interactive presentations from start to finish. We’ll also be hearing a lot from people outside our industry who are doing great things that we can adopt or adapt for our own organizations. For people who work in public relations, marketing, communications, business development, or human resources, this really is a must-attend event.

And, don’t miss a special Media and New Media Training on Sunday morning, October 18, before the conference officially opens that afternoon.  This training is limited to the first 25 who sign up for the training session upon registering for the Workshop. 

Register today!  To view the agenda and register, please click here IBTTA’s New Media, Communications & Human Resources Workshop, October 18-20, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.


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