August 2016, Vol. 243, No. 8

Company & Association News

TPAA Celebrates Decade of Service

By Bill Brooks, P.E., Engineering and Compliance Manager, Atmos Energy, West Texas Division

In 2006 several of Texas’ largest pipeline distribution and transmission companies joined together to form The Texas Pipeline Awareness Alliance (TPAA). The group commissioned the creation of television, radio and print ads using American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, “Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators” (incorporated by reference in federal regulations) as their guide.  After 10 years, the TPAA executes the nation’s largest and oldest collaborative pipeline safety and public awareness mass media campaign.

The primary goal of TPAA is to meet or exceed the RP 1162 requirements in reaching the affected public. This includes reaching the vast population in Texas with the frequency levels necessary to adequately convey the pipeline safety messaging and to convey the message about pipeline safety in a brief and memorable format. TPAA utilizes communication best practices, which in turn aids in reaching groups with lower awareness levels of pipeline safety, as identified through surveys, including women and non-English speakers.

The RP 1162 was developed by natural gas and hazardous materials pipeline operators in response to the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act passed by Congress on Dec. 17, 2002.  RP 1162 applies to all operators of gas and hazardous materials pipeline infrastructures. The RP lays out a clear framework for developing a public awareness programs for pipeline infrastructure and targeting its local communities.

The RP identifies four stakeholder audiences that must be addressed by public awareness programs: local public officials, emergency officials, excavators, and affected public (the TPAA program’s focus). To maintain compliance, operators must first identify all pipelines to be included in the program, the stakeholder audiences for each pipeline, and disseminate informational materials about the pipelines and general pipeline safety to recognized audiences. These efforts are required to be documented, evaluated, and regularly upgraded by the operator.

Texas is the second-largest state by size and population. It measures 773 miles wide and 790 miles long and is comprised of 268,581 square miles of diverse landscapes and cultures. The state is home to over 27 million people and growing by a half million a year. Not only does it contain two of the nation’s largest and fastest growing media markets but conversely also the country’s least populated county. It is home to four metropolitan areas of over 2 million and a dozen counties of 1,000 or less.

Population densities range from over 3,000 persons per square mile in the urban centers and less than one in West Texas. As America’s fastest growing state, over 3 million new residents have been added since the Census in 2010. Several suburban counties have doubled in population in each of the past several decades while some counties have seen steady population declines for a generation. Texas is a retiree destination and a magnet for job growth and young families.

The state is home to high-rise apartments and homes with driveways a mile long. Texas is home to the nation’s second-largest population of Hispanics and that group comprises 45% of the state’s population. All of the diversity combines with the state’s geographic expanse and population size to make it one of America’s most challenging places to plan and purchase media and to deliver a message consistently, effectively, and successfully.

In 2007, the first mass media campaign for TPAA was launched using a combination of cable television and network radio. The TPAA media campaign traditionally utilizes local television, radio, internet, print, community events, interviews, and articles year round.  The campaign launches with a spring English language television flight in all Texas TV markets and Spanish in high-density Hispanic locales. It is then reinforced with print, digital, and radio throughout the summer and fall.

The TPAA mass media campaign reaches tens of millions of Texans annually in each of Texas’s 254 counties. The TPAA proprietary creative includes three English and three Spanish language television commercials, three radio commercials in each language, three print ads in each language, as well as multiple digital desktop and mobile display ads and an outdoor format.

The TPAA ads are professionally produced, consistent across all media, have been subjected to three baseline studies, tested for effectiveness, used extensively on hundreds of television and radio stations, and address all RP 1162 mandated topics. The TPAA produces the most extensive and detailed documentation of any pipeline safety campaign for all Texas markets down to the county level, including audience and circulation estimates.

The annual campaign objectives are to continue to build general public awareness of and about pipeline safety while reaching into each Texas county. The campaign is typically concentrated in early spring and will include a proportionate Spanish language reach. For the past few years, advertising has been placed in a Spanish language construction industry magazine with a large regional distribution. The media objectives are to use the most targeted and effective available media outlets and programming, to leverage media buys for additional PSAs, using only high-visibility, high-attention level programming to enhance retention, and to provide detailed county analyses of audiences reached by each medium.

Look for ads this year on television during the Summer Olympics and the state’s college football games. In the past TPAA has utilized print ads in popular women’s magazines and radio and television ads on other sports such as minor and Major League baseball, college basketball, and minor league soccer to reach a broad audience. A large push for television interviews is usually centered on Aug. 11, which is 811 Day for the industry. This is the day that excavators and the public are reminded to call 811 before you dig.

The TPAA website ( was launched in 2007 and continues to grow in both traffic and content. TPAA maintains a content-rich, easily accessible website. The URL address is referenced in all media advertising and provides a place for more detailed and lengthy engagement with the public. Visit the website ( and other sources to learn about the pipelines where you live and work to protect yourself and others. Wherever you live, you are part of the affected public for the pipelines in your area.

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