Shoot The Messenger

Sitting in a remote studio with headphones on the other night, being part of a piece on ABC Radio’s Nightlife  prompted me to think how easy it is for us in the trucking industry to shoot the messenger, instead of helping to get the message out there. I was putting my head above the parapet and trying to get the ‘holy grail’, a positive message about the trucking industry, out there to the general public and to the many truckies who listen into night-time radio.

Waiting for the calls to come in after about twenty minutes was nerve wracking. My concern was the callers would miss the point and try to send us down some side track and away from the important messages we need to get out about the trucking industry.

As it happens, we were quite lucky, if the callers were complaining, it was about what the academic expert who was on the line in Melbourne had asserted. This didn’t take us too far off track and it gave us a few more opportunities to get our point across.

With my limited experience with this kind of thing, I have worked out what the politicians’ spin doctors worked out many years ago, bring the subject matter back to where you want to make a point. Then make the point, and then make it again.

Of course it helps to have a few real facts about the situation to back up your assertions. Thank-you to the National Truck Accident Research Centre, by the way. Simple figures we can all understand is a vital part of getting the message out.

Unfortunately, the message is often not allowed to get out , because we as an industry disagree with some of the things our advocates say. We pick on particular points to criticise, rather than looking at the big picture. We put down a speaker because of the kind of language they use or the way they repeat the same message over and over again.

In fact, we need more people putting out a simple message over and over again, and less people preaching to the converted about their own particular bugbear or agenda. We all need to be singing from the same, straightforward hymn sheet and leave the bickering between ourselves for private conversations.

The trucking industry may not think it, but we are in the middle of a crisis. The only news and images passing before the eyes of the general public are negative, it’s all about dirty trucks causing congestion, drugged up truckies causing accidents and ‘monster’ trucks causing fear on the roads.

Where are the smart advocates who should be getting out there and running an agenda spreading the word about the positive benefits of the trucking industry, its contribution to the economy and society, its vast improvement in its safety record and what a great industry it is to work in?

Why aren’t there articulate heads popping up from the parapet? In the past, what has the industry done to those rare spokespeople who have got a decent media platform? They have picked holes in their words, argued with the fine detail and failed to support them. Those people know who I am talking about. Let’s change it around and decide to not shoot the messenger.

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