Building the Roadway Brand
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Building the Roadway Brand

After operating in a reactive mode for many years, Roadway Express, a $3 billion less-than-truckload carrier and one of the nation’s largest trucking companies, wanted to communicate its key messages to the investment community proactively. Beginning in

Paul Holmes

After operating in a reactive mode for many years, Roadway Express, a $3 billion less-than-truckload carrier and one of the nation’s largest trucking companies, wanted to communicate its key messages to the investment community proactively.  Beginning in January 2000, Roadway partnered with Dix & Eaton to embark on an aggressive, high-profile media relations campaign targeted at national business and financial media outlets.


Roadway had been inwardly focused for some time.  Its brand was not well-known, and the company lacked a strategic, integrated communications effort.  Moreover, Roadway was not on the radar screen of national business and financial media.  And, Roadway’s senior management was not comfortable with talking to media.  It was our challenge to overcome these barriers and secure effective placements that would communicate Roadway’s key messages to the investment community.


Dix & Eaton conducted informational interviews with Roadway’s chairman and CEO and president and COO, as well as executives from a number of divisions within the company, including marketing, human resources, information technology, international affairs and labor relations to identify story lines for the year.  We kept up to date on Roadway’s business objectives, products, services and financial performance.  We also were in continuous contact with reporters who cover the industry and those who cover issues that are important to the company, such as workplace/management, international business and technology to find out what trends they are following.  In addition, we study national business and financial pubs daily, as well as transportation trade magazines to identify trends with which we could associate Roadway.  Finally, we carefully researched each reporter before approaching him or her with a story idea. 

Strategic Approach

Our strategy has always been to showcase Roadway as an innovative company with a smart, experienced management team and, ultimately, a sound investment.  We accomplished that in a number of ways, including media placements that not only demonstrated strong financial performance but also good management in various aspects of the business. For example, when Roadway was unable to talk about financial matters, we pursued placements that portrayed the company’s innovative use of technology (see Internet Week article attached) or far-reaching professional development program (see Fast Company article attached). Fortunately, Dix & Eaton was able to build on its successes for Roadway in 2000, which included a profile story in Barron’s, an interview with the CEO on CNNfn and placements in Financial Times, BusinessWeek and Bloomberg. 

Campaign Execution

As mentioned above, to freshen our story lines and to expand our list of possible sources within the company, Dix & Eaton conducted informational interviews with Roadway executives.  As a result of these meetings, we outlined story ideas, prioritized them and identified target media for each.  We followed the time line for pitching story ideas but always looked for opportunities to communicate Roadway’s key messages to the investment community through the national business and financial media. We also spent time with media in New York and Chicago to build relationships with target media.  Finally, in addition to the story ideas we outlined, we looked for media opportunities around seasonal events, including earnings announcements and summer driving safety. 


The results of our campaign have been effective, high-impact media placements that have raised the profile of Roadway Express and its holding company, Roadway Corporation, in the media and the investment community.  Most important, Roadway’s  stock has stabilized and even reached a 52-week high after news of an acquisition, which we helped promote.  Media now reach out to Roadway directly for their input on industry and economic trends. And, Roadway management is more open to participating in interviews and, at times, seeks them out.  Below is a list of placements, some of which are attached.

CNBC – Dix & Eaton arranged an interview with Roadway’s CEO on “Market Wrap” about the company’s acquisition of Arnold Industries, the parent company of New Penn Motor Express, a next-day ground carrier.
The Wall Street Journal – A brief item ran about the Arnold acquisition after we secured an interview with the reporter and Roadway’s CEO and CFO.
The New York Times – The Arnold acquisition was covered in the daily briefs.
Financial Times – Reporter Christopher Bowe wrote a story on the Arnold acquisition after we followed up with him about the story.
Fast Company –  After interviewing Roadway’s president and COO, human resource executives and a handful of employees, reporter Keith Hammonds wrote a feature article on Roadway’s Breakthrough Leadership program.
CIO – Reporter Simone Kaplan featured Roadway’s CIO in an article on managing information technology during an economic downturn.
Internet Week – Editor Richard Karpinski wrote a feature on Roadway’s use of technology. –  The Web site picked up the Roadway news release we crafted on how to share the road safely with trucks when traveling around Independence Day.

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