Top 40 Under 40 2017: Ryan Nawrocki

Sept. 15, 2017
Ryan Nawrocki, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing, Maryland Transit Administration (MTA)
  • One word to describe yourself: Energetic
  • Alma Mater: Johns Hopkins University for graduate school, St. Mary’s College of Maryland for undergrad
  • Favorite book: “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  • Favorite TV show: “The Walking Dead”
  • Favorite movie: “Field of Dreams”
  • Favorite hobby(ies): Spending time with family, fishing and reading
  • Fun fact about yourself: He is an avid coffee drinker and is working on making the perfect cup
  • What is your favorite transit system (outside of the one you work for or have worked for!) and why?:  TriMet in Portland. I'm a huge fan of the innovative ways they communicate with their customers.  

Ryan Nawrocki worked on Capitol Hill doing public relations for two different members of Congress before coming to the Maryland Transit Administration in January 2016.

Since his arrival, his communications and marketing efforts have resulted in unprecedented growth in the number of platforms utilized to reach MTA riders and potential customers, re-defined and enhanced the mission of communications and marketing within the MTA, and created an impressive response of the agency’s external and internal customers to those efforts.

With six modes throughout the state of Maryland, finding a way to communicate with all of those different audiences can sometimes be challenging. Nawrocki has stepped up the MTA’s efforts to increase the agency’s social media presence through a greater frequency of postings, a focus on more engaging posts and an enhanced reliance on video to tell the MTA story.

The combination of these approaches and other innovations has led to a 428 percent increase in Facebook followers and a 215 percent increase in Twitter followers.

While Facebook, Twitter and YouTube continue as the foundation of MTA social media efforts, Nawrocki has expanded the number of MTA social media platforms to 12, including Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, the MTA Blog, Tumblr, Google+, Snapchat, Soundcloud and iTunes.

Each platform is populated daily to drive reach and engagement with the diverse range of MDOT MTA audiences. The agency continues to evaluate and consider adding new social media platforms as they come online.

While social media is a vital element in MTA communications, the agency continues to expand its outreach to engage customers in unique and meaningful ways. Nawrocki arranged monthly schedule TV appearances for the administrator to appear on the first Thursday of each month on WBFF-TV Fox 45 between 7-8 a.m. for a three-minute segment to extol the benefits of BaltimoreLink and the latest innovations within MTA. The “Commuter Connections” TV show is produced entirely by MDOT MTA staff and reaches more than one million households throughout Maryland. Nawrocki arranged for monthly columns by the administrator in the “Baltimore Afro American,” “Latin Opinion,” “El Mundo” and “The Jewish Times” in order to reach the MTA’s many diverse and discrete audiences throughout the region.

In March 2016, under Nawrocki’s leadership, the MTA launched an FM radio station, featuring a format of smooth jazz, enhanced by transit and traffic updates and re-purposed features and packages from the MTA television show, “Commuter Connections.” The reach of the station has been enhanced through expansion of its audience by playing it on MDOT MTA rail platforms throughout Baltimore.

Under Ryan Nawrocki’s direction, the Office of Communications & Marketing produces a monthly e-newsletter A Message from the Administrator that addresses upcoming events within MTA, and a solid reminder of the MTA mission. A multi-page print version for all employees who do not have access to agency email is also produced on a quarterly basis. This newsletter is focused on the needs, concerns and items of news interest to front-line employees. The newsletter is repurposed for MDOT MTA riders and other outside audiences as Linking Maryland, a reference to the launch of Governor Hogan’s “BaltimoreLink” plan to transform transit in the region.

In facing competition that included global brands IBM, Pepsi and Dunkin Donuts among others, Nawrocki was awarded an Honorable Mention as PR Director of the Year by PR News Online. The MDOT MTA Office of Communications & Marketing was similarly recognized for the groundbreaking establishment of the MDOT MTA radio station WTTZ-FM 93.5, the only radio station in a major market that is owned and operated by a transit agency, and for the development of a social media video announcing the launch of the Purple Line.

“This is one of those industries where you literally impact people’s lives on a very granular level every single day. What we do is extremely meaningful; we’re getting people to jobs, school and healthcare and all of those kinds of things that can have a dramatic impact on people’s lives. If we weren’t here, if we weren’t doing a good job, the community would feel it.”

“What I’ve found across our industry so far … people get into routines, they only look at what other transit properties are doing. It’s good to learn from other transit properties but it’s important for us to think about what the market is doing. What private companies are doing, what non-profit companies are doing. See where some of the innovations are there.”