The ATM Coalition: America’s Voice for Better Transportation Infrastructure
In the past few years, the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition has focused on building its credibility, brand and outreach to move America’s infrastructure debate forward and advocate legislation that will create sustainable revenue to modernize our transportation system.
ATM was formed in 2000 by bringing the business community, organized labor and other key sectors together and is managed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Through the involvement of an array of member organizations, the Coalition has a strong history of lobbying for federal transportation infrastructure bills.
It has also added key partners in the Coalition over the last three years, including the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Portland Cement Association (PCA).
A primary ATM public relations (PR) objective is to continually communicate — through a span of dynamic digital content and fresh grassroots storytelling — why fixing America’s infrastructure should be a priority and why policymakers and the public care.
ATM efforts have included:
— overhauling the ATM website, fasterbettersafer.org, to ensure a high-quality experience for visitors through a contemporary, interactive, easily navigable and mobile-friendly destination;
— capturing names to grow its email list and base of supporters;
— encouraging people to sign its petition that asks Congress and the Trump Administration to commit to better infrastructure funding and financing, as well as facilitate private-sector involvement and continued project streamlining;
— promoting members’ viewpoints to shape the narrative surrounding America’s declining infrastructure and what can be done;
— producing videos that reinforce key messages and include insight from stakeholders and industry leaders;
— publishing stories with spokespeople discussing the real-life impacts of an overburdened national transportation grid and worn interconnected regional systems; and
— working with member organizations to create ATM-branded content, such as audio podcasts with executives.
Different Voices, One Purpose
Having access to the leadership of ATM’s member entities and working as a team with these organizations’ top communicators allow it to convey the diversity and many voices and faces of ATM.
Last winter, for instance, ATM spoke with PCA President and CEO Michael Ireland for a taped interview during which he was frank about the timely and pressing need for infrastructure investment. This interview then became an audio podcast. A few weeks later, we ran a longer-form evergreen story based on an interview with National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President and CEO Michael Johnson.
In the fall, after working with local spokespeople provided by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), we ran a two-part investigative series on crumbling bridges in Mississippi. We also distributed a video built around soundbites gleaned from an ATM Radio Media Tour (RMT) during an interview with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives Brian Turmail.
All of these were shared on different online platforms, and are now part of a cumulative repository of 60 original columns, timely stories, podcasts, videos, organic news and feature articles. These pieces provide facts, data, perspectives, quotes, images, states’ transportation struggles, and background regarding the importance of America’s infrastructure and why new legislation should be a national priority.
In an upcoming paid grassroots campaign to build Congressional awareness, ATM will conduct another RMT and orchestrate a significant Facebook ad buy in specific target states to trigger grassroots petition signatures.
ATM also recently published the first part of a two-part story about Kentucky’s transportation funding gaps, with insight from the area chamber of commerce and highway contractors. Kentucky was targeted to relay what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s constituents are doing about the dire need for infrastructure investment in their state.
Among the messages ATM routinely communicates are the forecasted insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and the need for ongoing federal monies; the importance of robust funding outlays (e.g., roads, bridges and transit) for a large multimodal transportation system; raising the federal gas tax, but also seeking other revenue solutions based on current realities and technologies; pointing to safety, capacity and quality-of-life concerns; revealing the impacts of aging and deteriorating infrastructure; and exploring how regions and stakeholders across our country are promoting the need for new funding.
Each time ATM puts its finger on the pulse of why America cannot let our infrastructure languish without greater federal attention and investment, we hope it builds more credible communication routes that will help create a drumbeat for a 21st-century policy map that will make America’s infrastructure the best in the world once again.
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