New York — A research study conducted on behalf of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program concludes that now more than ever public agencies should communicate under an integrated structure using strategic communications planning to effectively engage with stakeholders, customers and the public.

Sponsored by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and led by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, the two-year research study is condensed in a Communications Guide for State Departments of Transportation that is available for free through AASHTO at and from WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff at

“This guide can be an important tool for any transportation agency looking to align its public outreach with its organizational goals and priorities,” said Lloyd Brown, AASHTO director of communication. “By capturing best practices and sharing success stories, this guide provides an in-depth look at strategies for both the organizational leader and the practitioner that can streamline and improve communications programs.”

The research project involved a series of surveys; personal interviews with communicators, outside experts, public agency CEOs, and other leaders in state departments of transportation; as well as a review of effective communications practices in the public and private sector. The guide includes resources such as templates, graphics, and other tools to illustrate the strategies and practices that have been or may be used successfully by communications teams. The guidelines also include the role, purpose, and importance of communications functions and how these functions should be organizationally structured, coordinated, and aligned with agency leadership and goals.

“Public agencies, including state transportation departments, are continually looking for ways to embrace more effective practices,” said Darrel W. Cole, principal investigator for the study and manager of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff’s communications and public involvement practice. “For all communicators, how they did their job 10 years ago is vastly different than how they must do their jobs today. This guide provides some of the resources to agencies that want to enhance specific areas of their communication functions.”

The communications and public involvement practice at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff includes 25 professionals who are applying in-practice expertise to national research studies, such as the AASHTO guide, and to hundreds of infrastructure projects across the U.S. With diverse experience in all areas of communications and public involvement, the WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff team is adept at utilizing emerging technologies with traditional techniques to engage the public and develop strategic communication plans for projects and public agencies.