A new image campaign was announced at ATA’s annual Management Conference and Exhibition.
Are you yawning? Another one, you say? What’s so special about this one? Read on.
The first phase of “Trucking Moves America Forward” is fundraising. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1 million per year for the next five years. Details of the program itself are still scant with the full movement to be launched in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.
So far, there’s a website, www.truckingmovesamerica.com, with messaging, support materials and social media links to help fleets and others in the industry tell the trucking industry’s positive stories in their local communities.
It makes it easy to donate to the effort online with a credit card.
In a video on the website and on YouTube, Kevin Burch, president of Ohio-based Jet Express, talks about the importance of telling trucking’s story.
Burch is a former HDT Truck Fleet Innovator, current ATA vice chairman and former chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association. He’s long been an advocate for telling trucking’s story, and is proactive in working with his local media. Search his name and company name on Google, and one of the top results is a local TV news video of him talking about the driver shortage.
“Shame on us for not standing up and saying hey, it’s time we got involved,” he says on the image campaign website. “It’s time we started telling America what we do.”
Yes, that’s easier said than done. It’s sometimes hard for positive stories to be heard above check-waving attorneys sending out press releases about their wins in court against big bad trucking companies, or the dramatic images of truck wrecks that appear on TV and online in this video-driven news world.
I’ll be honest – the press won’t always get it right. Trucking is an incredibly complex business. After 23 years of covering it, I’m still finding out just how much I don’t know. How well do you think a reporter is going to understand it after only working on a story for a few days or even a few hours?
That’s why it’s so important to build a relationship with your local media before they’re on the trail of a hot and negative story – to tell your story, as Burch puts it.
After all – if we don’t tell trucking’s story, who will? Anti-truck “safety” groups like CRASH? Ambulance-chasing lawyers? “Citizen advocate” bloggers? We can’t let them dominate the conversation.
When you get positive stories out there, you never know who’s listening. Maybe that will be the story that changes the heart of an elected official.
Maybe seeing stories on the local news that put a human face behind those big scary trucks will make someone think twice before phoning that lawyer.
That’s what “Trucking Moves America Forward” is all about.
So what makes this image campaign different? The founders are trying to make it as industry-wide as possible. The Allied Committee for Transportation (ACT 1), which includes both fleets and suppliers and is not part of one trucking association, provided a $100,000 donation to spur the initial development of the program. The goal is to reach out to other trucking groups, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Teamsters union.
The trucking industry is incredibly diverse. Driver-based groups oppose fleet management groups on a number of issues. Heck, sometimes it seems hard to get truckers to agree on the price of a free cup of coffee.
But there are some issues on which we can agree. On Capitol Hill recently, groups ranging from the Teamsters to ATA worked to get legislation passed requiring sleep apnea screening for truck drivers to go through the regulatory process rather than being a “guidance.”
Image has even greater potential to be an issue where the industry stands together.
Go ahead. Tell your story.
From the November issue of HDT magazine.