Communications Lead
The Communications Lead creates the agency’s communication strategy, directs and leads the dissemination of internal and external communications and outreach functions for the agency, and oversees agency public relations functions.Note: In some agencies, the scope of this role encompasses virtually all external communications in the “central office,” whereas in other agencies, some of these responsibilities are decentralized.
Challenges and Opportunities
In your role, what are the most critical challenges and opportunities? Looking across the agency, what capabilities are required to successfully take them on? How can you help build the necessary capabilities? The first step is to understand these challenges and opportunities in terms of the major change forces that are driving them.
Change ForcesTimeframe
Technology AdvancementNew digital technology impacts the tools, methods and strategies available to reach various audiences.

The focus on social media communications requires new skills to develop and manage content, ensure accessibility and protect user security.
Technology Adoption. Help the agency adopt social media, videography and other digital platforms to enhance brand identity, improve communications and provide on-demand service information.

Aligning Skills to Needs. Develop strategies to build the agency’s knowledge base for resourcing social media and digital security functions.
Shift in Role and FocusThe agency’s communication strategy needs to adapt to engage with key stakeholders on its shifting focus toward multimodal emphasis and the effective use of existing infrastructure.Operations Focus. Develop an effective messaging strategy that improves stakeholder and public support for multimodal projects and operational priorities.
Legislation, Regulation, and FundingResponding to new legislative requirements may require new communication strategies and methods to clearly communicate the change and its impacts on the agency and its stakeholders.Agility and Resilience. Help the agency adopt communications approaches to share information about the agency’s response to new legislative requirements.
Public ExpectationsIncreased expectations for transparency, accountability and public engagement create the need for effectively communicating the performance and accomplishments of the agency with the public, elected officials, and the media.Transparency. Advance efforts to tell a consistent “story” about the agency to stakeholders and the general public.
Strategies and Resources

What strategies can you apply now to meet today’s challenges and prepare for future opportunities?What resources are available to help support these efforts?

Where to Begin

  • Investigate emerging skills gaps to understand the resources needed to incorporate and maintain effective social media practices.
  • Make contact with communications leads in other DOTs to get ideas and guidance on successful communication practices in light of change forces.
  • Work with agency leaders to adapt branding to reflect changing strategies.
  • Interview agency leaders about the impacts of legislation and adjust communication strategies to respond to the changes.
  • Assess current communication vehicles and determine better ways to communicate that will support transparency and accountability.


Organizational Management

  • Strategic Planning – to ensure a clear and consistent approach for developing a communications strategy aligned with agency goals

Information and Data Management

  • Information Technologies - to communicate agency performance and accomplishments

Knowledge Management

  • Learning Organization – to align staff activities with agency goals and create a culture of transparency and accountability for results
  • Communities of Practice – to share knowledge and develop new communication practices to respond to change forces
  • Knowledge Bases – to gather guidance and examples of successful communication practices at other organizations