I began working in the trucking industry when I came to Coyne PR and quickly realized that it’s much different than anything I had done previously, including my experience in the automotive industry. As we have all been reminded recently during COVID-19, the trucking industry is a critical industry to keep North America supplied with vital products.
Trucking and the transportation industry are a way of life for many hardworking people, and it’s essential to learn about drivers, fleet managers and technicians’ daily perspective and what is important to them. It’s also an industry that is changing rapidly with new and disruptive technologies as there is more importance placed on sustainability.
I’ve discovered on my professional journey over the past 15 years that when starting out in your career or transitioning to a different industry, there are several points to help you get up to speed.
Learn about the Industry
Understanding industry terminology is vital. Read and learn it from trade media or valuable industry webinars, which have grown substantially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Listen to the perspective of trucking industry organizations such as ATA, OOIDA and NACFE and subscribe to their regular newsletters. Talk with professionals in the industry where you work.
In trucking, an owner/operator truck driver will have a different perspective about government regulations, vehicle technology or truck maintenance than a fleet manager. Your communications are going to need to reach diverse audiences in the same industry, so understanding their different perspectives will help you connect with each and result in meaningful impact.
Listen to the Experts
Listen carefully to the subject matter experts you work with regularly during interviews and daily conversations. Initially, much of what you hear may seem disconnected. Still, as you listen and learn, you will soon connect the information to enable you to discuss specific topics with confidence and provide value to your client. At trade shows or media events, you will typically hear several issues addressed – this is an excellent opportunity to become educated on information that can help you build valuable stories for the brand.
Know the Trends
Your work may initially be focused on one area within an industry. However, do not let this stop your full learning. The transportation industry is very diverse and is affected by technology, changing regulations, the economy, etc. Understanding industry trends will help you work with clients proactively and reactively elevate your client as a thought leader.
Look to the Future
With the need for increased sustainability, every industry is changing. Learn about how the industry is planning to build a more sustainable future. For transportation, it’s essential to understand current and emerging technology. Follow timely innovations such as battery-electric, natural gas or hydrogen-powered vehicles, and advanced telematics. This will help provide you with an understanding of where sustainable transportation is headed. It will certainly not be one path or solution, but a combination of evolving technologies working together.
Changing Business Environment
With COVID-19 changing the way our daily life is lived and how we obtain goods and services, transformations and new methods have been coming rapidly. Paying attention to logistics stresses to the supply chain and business challenges is critical. It’s also vital to be aware of the effects on drivers’ lives as they are doing their essential work under very challenging conditions. Working with clients to reevaluate and adjust how to communicate and provide support to various audiences and media is critical to any communication program’s success.
Knowing the Media
Journalists who work in a specific industry such as trucking have a strong knowledge of the industry’s business aspects and are well-versed in technology and emerging trends and how they affect the industry. Understanding the industry and the media is essential to helping you become a storyteller that can offer useful industry information while also presenting information about your company or product. Telling a well-structured story is much more compelling than just presenting facts.
Digging in and learning about your industry will help you be a more effective counselor and help you create robust programs that will resonate with media and core audiences.
Learn more about our agency’s work in the transportation space here.