Truck News


My media relations blueprint

Why every paper in Canada doesn't employ a transportation writer, I have no idea. Given the size of our biz and the key role we play in the economy, it would seem like a justifiable expense.Until it h...

Why every paper in Canada doesn’t employ a transportation writer, I have no idea. Given the size of our biz and the key role we play in the economy, it would seem like a justifiable expense.

Until it happens people who don’t understand the industry will continue to write the words, play the soundbites and broadcast the video the majority of Canadians use to form their opinions of trucking.

Herein rests a large portion of our image problem. These reporters are the very four-wheelers frightened by the size of today’s rigs and that fear colors their reporting of the facts. This coupled with a general ignorance of the way things operate in the world of the professional driver results in misleading media reports and biased coverage.

I had the opportunity to witness this first-hand on several occasions over the past couple months and I must admit, it left me with a renewed faith in the critical void filled by Truck News and all trade magazines for that matter.

While attending the Manitoba Trucking Association’s annual convention, I was on hand for the presentation of the CTA/Volvo Trucks Canadian Driver of the Year Award to Winnipeg local hauler Robert Ozouf. Following the ceremony, this gentleman trucker was swarmed by television cameras and asked to explain why truckers need longer Hours-of-Service. He politely tried to explain the rules don’t truly apply to him (he’s a local delivery guy remember) but the media pressed on until he said something to the effect that the hours were long enough as they were.

As the only other industry representative present at the time, I jumped in and gave an impromptu press conference on the need for hours of work to be built around a 24-hour clock and the need for flexibility.

I gave several examples, but in the end five minutes was boiled down to 10 seconds on why livestock haulers need special allowances when moving animals to slaughter houses.

While I wasn’t overly impressed with the results, it sure was better than hearing, “Canada’s top trucker says longer hours will lead to carnage on the highways.”

If you’re approached by the mainstream media asking you questions about trucking rules and regulations, don’t answer anything if you’re not 100 per cent certain you’re saying the right thing. While it’s not always the case, nine times out of 10 you’re setting yourself up for problems. This was again proven to me when a fuel tanker rolling through Toronto in April unfortunately threw a set of duals injuring two people.

Canada A.M. called me the same day and wanted yours truly in its studio the following morning to discuss truck safety. Great, I thought, a chance to let everyone know about the strides taken by fleets and operators to ensure our industry is at the pinnacle of safety.

The trucker involved in the incident was later cleared of all charges relating to the incident and the journalist promptly called back to cancel the interview.

They must have simply wanted to crucify someone for the incident and I was to have been their sacrificial lamb. Once the charge was gone, so was the ammunition.

I, like most of you out there, would like to think I’m up to clarifying some of the misconceptions held by the public. But since mainstream media only hears what it wants to hear, don’t be surprised when they butcher your efforts.

I wanted to take a moment to apologize for some technical problems our printer had last month.

The story running on pages 74 and 75 was attacked by a swarm of gremlins and the results were less than desirable.

Sorry about any confusion this may have created and we promise to keep a closer eye on these issues in the future. n

John Curran can be reached by phone at 416-442-2091 or by email at


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