Late last fall, our client, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, came to us with an issue — the lives of their members’ employees were at risk, and they needed help. Utility workers who were working on the side of Iowa’s roadways were experiencing too many close calls with distracted drivers.


The Problem

It might be hard to believe that the men and women who put their lives on the line every day working with high-voltage power (sometimes elevated as high as 150 feet in the air) have to worry about a little traffic on the road. Thanks to proper training and countless safety procedures, they know how to do their job safely — it’s really the people like you and me putting them at risk. Distracted drivers and ignorance of Iowa’s move over or slow down law combined to create a dangerous work environment for utility workers.


Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives checked with other electric utilities in the state to see if they too were experiencing the same issue. They talked to all of them – Alliant Energy, Iowa Association of Municipal UtilitiesITC Midwest and MidAmerican Energy. All had the same issue. In fact, in the first half of 2017, MidAmerican reported more than 500 incidents of motorists striking utility structures, including utility poles. Thankfully, there have been no fatalities yet, but it could be a matter of time before the unimaginable happens. These electric utility organizations wanted to educate driver about the state’s move over law proactively.


The Solution

With all five Iowa electric utility organizations in agreement, they looked to Lessing-Flynn to suggest a campaign and a plan for a state-wide public service announcement. Eager to help, we assembled our team for a brainstorm. We brought our creative minds to the table and developed a coordinated plan of action to reach Iowa’s drivers from all angles. The strategy included elements of digital marketing, public relations, media pitches, social media marketing, print ads, radio, bill stuffers and more.


We shared a variety of creative ideas that ranged from jaw-dropping to safe, and ultimately, all five organizations agreed on a witty concept that sarcastically reminded drivers to be aware. The “Move Over” campaign was born. In this campaign, a strong call to action encouraged drivers to pay more attention and take an online pledge to move over or slow down for utility vehicles, and then share the pledge on their social networks.


While we were at work on the campaign, our client had another effort underway — lobbying the state legislature. Within one legislative session, the governor signed a bill that expands the law requiring Iowa drivers to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles to now include bucket trucks and other utility vehicles. We coordinated the launch of the campaign and to coincide with the effective date of the new law on July 1, 2017. Using the materials we provided, our clients (now five of them) distributed the press release, pitched to media and shared social media messages via their respective channels.


The Results

Our combined efforts culminated on July 10, when Governor Kim Reynolds held a press conference where she signed the Move Over pledge and declared the week as “Move Over or Slow Down” Awareness Week. Nearly all major news outlets across the state – including print, news and radio – shared stories and articles to raise awareness among drivers. To date, thousands of users have visited the landing page, and the pledge has been shared hundreds of times across Facebook and Twitter.


On behalf of the Lessing-Flynn team, it was a pleasure to contribute to this powerful effort to protect lives. So, the next time you see flashing lights on the side of the road — do the right thing — move over or slow down.


Move Over Press Conference Photos