The Transportation Marketing & Communications Association (TMCA) recently announced that Mike Russell, formerly vice president for public affairs and press secretary for the American Trucking Associations, was named the “2007 Marketing Executive of the Year.” This honor was awarded posthumously at the TMCA annual conference in St. Petersburg, Fla. to Russell, who tragically died in a whitewater rafting accident in Colorado on June 15 last year.
“Mike Russell had more than 30 years of national-level experience in transportation-related press and public affairs,” said Tom Nightingale, vice president of communications and chief marketing officer for Con-way Inc., and current president of TMCA. “The truck transportation industry lost one of its most ardent supporters and a masterful communicator. He stood for many of the qualities and values we all strive for as professional communicators in the transportation industry, which is why we felt it very appropriate to present this award posthumously to Mike.” Nightingale presented the award on June 4 to Russell’s nephew, Peyton Russell, and Tiffany Wlazlowski, director of public affairs & deputy press secretary of the ATA.
TMCA is the only association dedicated to exclusively serving marketing, sales and communications professionals in all modes and market segments of transportation and logistics. “TMCA provides education, networking, and recognition to continually encourage elevated levels of professionalism in the marketing and communications disciplines within the transportation industry,” said Brian Everett, chief executive officer of TMCA. “This award is yet another way that TMCA encourages marketing and communications professionals to aspire to be the best they can be. Mike Russell and the passion he held for his career should be an inspiration to us all.” Since 2003, TMCA has been presenting this award annually to an individual demonstrating the highest principles, creative and strategic characteristics desired in a marketing or communications professional.
Russell was known for generating positive news coverage and improving the public image of ATA-member motor carriers and their professional truck drivers. To make this happen, he aggressively promoted the trucking industry’s safety record, its major role in the US economy, its environmental efforts, and developed strategic communications plans for ATA and trucking industry policy and legislative issues. In addition to his news-making responsibilities, Russell was responsible for the nation’s premier truck-car safety program, Share the Road, and for America’s Road Team, the million-mile, accident-free professional truck drivers who serve as national ambassadors for the trucking industry. The nationwide trucking industry Good Stuff-Trucks Bring It image campaign also was his responsibility.
Russell came to ATA in 1999 after a variety of political-public affairs slots with the Clinton-Gore administration, the last as director of public and consumer affairs for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Prior to his DOT service, he had spent three years on the staff of vice president Al Gore, working with the “reinventing government” movement. He also served as press secretary to former US Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders.