The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) works with Public Information Coordinators, or PICs, to provide public relations services to assist them with keeping the public informed about road construction in their area and to emphasize safety in construction zones. Absolute was hired this spring to assist NDDOT in their Williston District – the center of the fastest growing economy in the United States. With plans to create or expand over $500 million in additional roadways in the Oil Patch this summer, NDDOT needed to connect with the public to keep them informed utilizing multiple media avenues in order to reach their unique audience.

The Oil Patch is a unique place with an even more unique audience. Comprised of local residents, oil and construction workers, temporary residents as well as truckers and visitors, NDDOT needed to reach audiences utilizing traditional and online mediums. Their goals included educating residents and workers in the area about the planned improvements, keeping them up to date about quickly changing traffic patterns, and reassuring local and new residents that improvements would create safer and more convenient routes to travel throughout western North Dakota.

In addition to these goals, NDDOT also expressed their desire to grow their relationship with the local media in order to enhance communication with the public about the construction projects. NDDOT wanted to let local residents know that relief from the high volume of truck traffic in their area was on the way. Absolute needed to provide multiple approaches to address these needs. We also wanted to make sure that any stakeholder, whether local resident, worker, lawmaker or community group, would be able to search online and find the information they needed.

Our plan included a comprehensive communications strategy, including building a website with a blog providing ongoing public information to serve as the hub for communications, creating social media accounts with frequent updates about the projects, creating a series of YouTube videos that would educate stakeholders about the planned improvements, and traditional and online paid media placement to reach out to our audience. Absolute also implemented an increasing trend in communications – content marketing. By creating relevant content via the website blog and project maps, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and updating these channels frequently, the web presence Absolute created became the leading source for information about road construction projects in the Williston area. In addition, Absolute built relationships with the local media, facilitating ongoing crisis communication needs and negotiating symbiotic earned media, such as daily traffic radio spots.

The YouTube videos were a particularly important component of our plan. First, the videos explained the planned improvements in plain language with visual tools such as maps and footage that allowed the public to learn about the projects. These videos were created in two sets – when the projects started up in May and June and at the midpoint in the construction season. The first set explained the projects while the second set provided an update about NDDOT and the contractors’ progress. These videos were used on the website and in our social media posts and were heavily shared online throughout the construction season, reaching an increasingly large audience in the area. NDDOT also has traditionally placed television advertising to remind motorists about the importance of safety, especially in construction zones. Absolute created a television spot that addressed safety but also addressed the large number of projects being undertaken this year to improve transportation throughout western North Dakota.

“The video communications that Absolute created were particularly helpful in reaching our goals to improve public information in our Williston District” said Peggy Anderson, Director of Communications for NDDOT. “Since we had so many different audiences to reach, the YouTube videos in particular really helped us to educate audiences in a visual, easy-to-understand manner” she added.

Today, NDDOT has a well-established presence in the Williston District from a communications perspective. Motorists are well informed, have many choices for receiving information and are aware of several avenues to ask questions and understand the impact of road construction on their lives. Our video communications for this project were crucial to accomplishing these goals. In such a fast growing economy experiencing some pretty heavy duty growing pains, establishing new transportation infrastructure and building a relationship with the public to communicate these improvements is a very important and welcome development for NDDOT.

Please contact us at or call (701) 478-1111 for more information.