Riding The Right Message On TNCs

Posted on October 12, 2015 by Gary Buffo

NLA President Gary Buffo.
NLA President Gary Buffo.
[Note To Readers: LCT asked the presidents of the Taxi Limousine & Paratransit Association and the National Limousine Association to update their public relations efforts on TNCs. The TLPA article ran in the September issue, available at]

In January 2015, the National Limousine Association hired a marketing and public relations firm, which has helped us learn how vital PR is for the success of our organization, as a cornerstone of our growth, and as a development strategy.

From building awareness and credibility for our business initiatives to supporting fundraising efforts, a well-executed, strategic PR program earns public understanding and acceptance. We rely on PR and other marketing communications for benefits that go beyond soliciting direct financial support. The more proactive an image we can cultivate, the more we will attract customers, and as demonstrated, create more opportunities to achieve our mission and goals.

A strategic PR program has been instrumental to the success of NLA brand messaging and image. The NLA’s PR efforts kicked off with the launch of our Ride Responsibly Campaign ( to establish industry wide best practices for car service passengers and drivers. The campaign empowered and informed the public at large, and drivers and operators alike, with the necessary tools to Ride Responsibly.

Immediately following the campaign, an alarming survey of 2,000 adults ages 18+ conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the NLA in February, illustrated consumer concerns over the lack of background checks, insurance protocols, and drug testing in place with ride-hailing app car services. As a result, the NLA issued a Bill of Rights for Passengers and a Duty of Care for Drivers. In its role as a global voice of the private driver transportation industry, the NLA promotes a safer and more accountable system for passengers and operators.

The NLA believes giving back to the community for an important cause is crucial. In March 2015, Robin McGraw and Dr. Phil McGraw partnered The Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation: When Georgia Smiled with The National Limousine Association’s Ride Responsibly initiative. The NLA and WGS joined forces on The Aspire Initiative, a domestic violence program, which aims to reduce the level of intimate relationship violence in the U.S. and instill the importance of bystander responsibility. With too many rape charges being reported against ride-hailing app drivers, the NLA team believes WGS is a vital contributor to help end sexual assault and domestic violence.

In order to garner both the public’s and industry’s understanding and acceptance of the NLA, our PR team played a vital role in producing a new on-air public service announcement titled “Do you Think Before You App?” in May about the risks and hazards of transportation network companies. The video is an extension of the NLA’s Ride Responsibly initiative to improve passenger safety, education and awareness for anyone using a ride-hailing based car service such as Uber. To date, the PSA has more than 2,477 broadcast airings and about 4,791,828 viewers/listeners. The ad valued at more than $150,000.

Our strategy ensures the NLA has a strong voice on breaking news issues such as the repeal of LAX airport regulations that will allow vehicles without commercial licenses to pick up arriving passengers, and the California Labor Commission ruling that an Uber driver must be classified as an employee, not an independent contractor. The results have included coverage on major local broadcast stations such as NBC and top national print outlets such as the Los Angeles Times.

NLA’s latest press release in July, released at the Global Business Travel Association Annual Convention, announced NLA and DEEM’s strategic alliance to level the consumer playing field for mobile applications and ride-booking. In an increasingly mobile-first society, it is time for a mobile application that combines the convenience of ride-hailing applications with the equaled duty-of-care, incomparable service and unrivaled safety standards offered by NLA members.

From the above strategic initiatives, PR proves vital to the NLA’s success and influence. Please see these media highlights from January to date in the accompanying graphic (click to enlarge):

Gary Buffo has served as President of the National Limousine Association since February 2013. He is the CEO of Pure Luxury Transportation in Petaluma, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected]

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