Episode 37:  Improving the Trucking Industry’s Image, with Elisabeth Barna

As Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Elisabeth Barna develops strategic direction and communications. Other duties include image and outreach advocacy for ATA, the lead organization that represents trucking industry’s interests in the United States.
Recipient of the 2008 J.R. ‘Bob’ Halladay Award, she coordinates advocacy efforts for ATA with state associations and other groups to enhance the profile and image of the trucking industry. In this program, she discusses some of the present outreach and image-building efforts of ATA with politicians, community groups, state associations, as well as the importance of reaching out to younger generations. An important component of the ATA’s recent initiatives involves adding a human face to the industry, reminding everyone that the person behind the wheel is a member of the community.

“We are starting to talk to the public, our public officials, the media, trying to put a face behind the wheel and a face on the industry overall. . . . it’s not just a truck going down the highway. There’s somebody that’s behind the wheel and that somebody could be your next door neighbor. It could be your kid’s soccer coach, it could be the deacon in your church.”

– Elisabeth Barna

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Elisabeth learned skills from her early experience working on legislative affairs at ATA’s Capitol Hill Office that gave her expertise in communications and image management when she returned to the organization in 2005
  • Ways that ATA collaborates with state association members to develop messaging on important issues as well as remind lawmakers that truckers are among their constituents
  • Approaches that ATA’s America’s Road Team Captains use to build bridges with a variety of groups, from politicians and industry leaders to schoolchildren and community groups
  • How ATA has improved advocacy efforts by explaining the positive impact the industry has on the distribution of products while also doing its best to “put a face behind the wheel”
  • Why developing a positive image of the trucking industry matters to younger generations
  • Why media outreach efforts are imperative, especially when a single negative news story about a four-wheeler involved in a situation can undo many positive portrayals
  • Ways that road team captains can tell important stories in their hometowns as well as distant venues as ambassadors for the industry
  • The importance of recruiting and retaining drivers during a time when the shortage of drivers remains a concern
  • How the perspective of many companies has evolved to understand the value that each employee in trucking operations brings to the overall industry and that an employee is never just a “number”

Ways to contact Elisabeth:

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