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PR benchmarks: PRIDE awards provides benchmarking model for the industry.

The fastest, least expensive way to get new Ideas and improve public relations is to benchmark the best programs in the industry. Benchmarking is valuable for all professions, but it is especially helpful in public affairs because it is usually the most underdeveloped arm of management and because business communication is evolving rapidly as it adapts to new digital technologies.

The Transportation Development Foundation gave out a series of public relations awards May 30 at the PRIDE Awards lunch. While these awards honor transportation design and construction firms and public agencies for excellence in public relations and public education, they also provide a wonderful benchmarking model for the rest of the aggregate industry.

Under the category "Community Relations: Private Sector," APAC-Missouri was recognized with a First Place award for its "Quarry Days Celebration." The two-day event informs elementary school students, teachers and parents about the importance of aggregates and dispels myths about the impact of quarries on the environment. Event creator Gary Wood begins the event with a presentation called "How a Hill Becomes a Road." It covers the limestone mining process, environmental protection procedures and safety measures. On the next day, students take a bus tour of the Linn Creek Quarry where they get to search for fossils and crystals. The program has reached more than 4,000 students.

Stacy and Witbeck and Kiewit Western Co. received a Second Place award for private sector community relations. The two companies are partners in building the Utah Transit Authority Airport TRAX Line that will run through neighborhoods and business districts and connect downtown Salt Lake City with its international airport. Their comprehensive initiative to keep the community informed of their progress included conducting more than 1,500 meetings with business leaders and residents, delivering construction notices to more than 10,500 contacts and providing more than 5,000 flyers on how to navigate construction zones. They also ran a 24-hour hotline and staged 15 grassroots events at public gatherings.

Another Second Place award went to Flatiron Construction. Flatiron employed a goodwill vehicle during the construction of State Route 92 from Lehi to Highland, Utah. They also sponsored the " Coupon Campaign." To help residents learn about the coupons for local businesses they created a website, Twitter account and a mobile app. They received cooperation from approximately 70 percent of the business owners they contacted and reached more than 18,500 residents with mailings and hand-delivered postcards.

In the category "Public-Media Relations/Education: Private Sector" APAC-Missouri received First Place for their "Build Lip Colombia" program. They partnered with Fairview Elementary School to offer fifth graders information about construction projects in conjunction with their curriculum in science, math and language arts. Students learned about an environmental spill, water flow processes, and building modal bridges and sky scrapers. They went on field trips to construction sites and participated in a classroom project where they formed their own construction companies.

The "Public-Media Relations/Education: Public Sector" First Place award went to the Utah Department of Transportation, Copper Hills Constructors, HDR and Parsons Brinckerhoff for a project called "Mountain View Corridor." They generated print, online and television news stories, delivered more than 1,000 fliers, mailed 8,500 postcards, emailed 150 businesses and held a public meeting to foster public awareness. They also created a navigation video with an interactive map, visited 15 schools, and distributed 12,000 informational materials.

Second Place in the same category went to Massachusetts Department of Transportation, JR White Contracting Company and Kiewit for the "I-93 Fast 14 Rapid Bridge Replacement Project." Their plan included public meetings, an interactive website and social media to create awareness, post detours, and minimize gridlock on a project that replaced 14 bridges in 10 weekends.

Thomas J. Roach, Ph.D., has 30 years experience in communication as a journalist, media coordinator, communication director and consultant. He has taught at Purdue University Calumet since 1987, and Is the author of "An Interviewing Rhetoric." He can be reached at
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Author:Rue, Thomas I.
Publication:Rock Products
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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