The boom in U.S. shale production means that trains pulling outmoded and unsafe tank cars are transporting greater quantities of hazardous materials through American and Canadian towns, putting thousands of lives and the environment at risk. Greenbrier, a leading supplier of tank cars to the railroad industry, was determined to change this by persuading government policymakers to mandate safer tank car standards. The big question was ‘how?’
Greenbrier had been working in traditional public relations and communications channels targeting policymakers, lobbyists and the media. Our insight was that to create lasting impact, the issue had to be presented as an urgent need.
We worked closely with Greenbrier’s CEO and the Head of Public Affairs to understand the best way to explain the risks without creating reputational issues for the wider rail industry. We conducted focus groups with key stakeholders to develop and refine a compelling safety campaign that would drive the case for change. Through branding, film, digital, design and print we built traction at industry and media events, as well as through more traditional advertising routes like the Wall Street Journal.
On May 1st 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation adopted the safer tank car standard. And the United States Library of Congress also added the “Safer Tank Cars Now” campaign into the Library’s historic collection of internet materials related to public policy. Our new interactive digital tools are being rolled out to help explain the details of the new rules to wider stakeholders.