Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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70 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 Mary Shaffer members and special projects manage- ment, such as facilitating the transporta- tion of the athletes and attendees of the Se- nior Games and the Gay Games. Tough employee communications program are not necessarily in her personal arsenal, she helps when she can, because she feels that good employee relations is extreme- ly important. "To have a good external image you have to have a good relationship with your internal co-workers," Shafer says. Since she began her work with RTA, one of Shaffer's proudest accomplish- ments has been to help establish a speak- er's bureau. She explains that she has about 45 RTA employees she trained in presentation skills, teaching them what kinds of things to focus on if they are asked to speak in public. She feels this is valu- able, because there were often staf mem- bers who have a great working knowledge of a particular area, but may not have felt the most comfortable speaking in front of the public. As she navigated her role, Shaffer says she found media relations is often the most difficult aspect, but one of the most important. With the addition of so- cial media-type news outlets, there are more individuals looking to get in touch with her. "While there are actually more [report- ers], there is still only one of me," she says. "Some days there are 12 or 14 phones calls about 12 or 14 diferent events." But since she had many years of experi- ence as a journalist, she knows what it en- tails to reach a deadline and is responsive as she can be, especially with the rise of multimedia journalism. Shafer recently took her talents to the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. area, in a great op- portunity to lead the marketing, commu- nications and customer service areas at Broward County Transit. She is excited for the new challenges and mostly, for the lack of snow. — Kelsey Nolan Te best part of Mary Shafer's previous role as the public relations representative for the Greater Cleveland Regional Tran- sit Authority (RTA) was when it worked. "I know our campaigns had a lot of im- pact when people come up to me and tell me they don't know what they'd do with- out RTA," she explains. "Tat was the most rewarding." Last year, Shaffer and her team had the opportunity to host Vice President Joe Biden at RTA's rail facility. She says the fact that Biden thought their projects and programs were important enough to single out over everywhere else in the country was a huge accomplishment. Shaffer spent about eight years pur- suing a broadcast journalism career be- fore switching over to public relations. In fact, it wasn't until she received an op- portunity to work for Delphi Automotive in Mexico doing media relations that she considered the transit world at all, she ex- plains. According to Shaffer, she spent several years doing PR for Delphi, the pri- vate frm Dix & Eaton, and eventually, her own frm until she moved into the public transit market. After she relocated back to Cleveland, she explains she had a respect and love for public transportation. Shafer conscious- ly moved to an area with easy access to the train she could ride downtown to work to avoid the expense of parking. While run- ning her own frm, she says she would oc- casionally check in to see if there were any openings for public relations. When a position for the media relations manager for RTA came available four years ago, she applied, building it into a full public relations segment. "Now, we're not just fghting and being on the defensive," Shafer explains. "We're actively promoting all the good things we have and putting them out in front of peo- ple and personalizing the things that are wonderful." An example she gives is highlighting an individual in a wheelchair, who wouldn't be able to get to work every day if it weren't for paratransit. According to Shafer, the diferent hats she wore at RTA ran the gammit from media and community relations, pub- lic speaking, speech writing, communi- ty fundraising events, coordinating board WOMEN IN TRANSPORTATION Last year, Shafer and the Cleveland RTA team hosted Vice President Joe Biden at their rail facility. Recently, Shafer left RTA to join the Broward County Transit team. Public Relations TITLE Broward County Transit ORGANIZATION Fort Lauderdale, Fla. CITY

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