Former TV traffic reporter Cindy Campbell is now communications director for AARP MA
By Kelley Walker Perry, Contributing Writer
BOSTON – Providing accurate and timely information to the public is nothing new for Cindy Campbell. She honed her communication skills as a traffic reporter for WCVB-TV between 1995 and 2010, during what she calls the most transformative time in Boston.
“We had a lot of information to get out to viewers. It’s about knowing your audience and knowing how to get that information to them,” she said.
Live television without a script
Relaying information was only part of her job. “All of my reports were live; I didn’t have a script. They had to be accurate,” she said. Reporting in real time meant she had to be well-versed in traffic patterns and could clearly communicate everything viewers needed to know – in 45 seconds to one minute.
“I carried around books of maps all the time. I really studied them, even though I was born and raised in Massachusetts. I studied so my audience would know I was a credible source of information,” she recalled.
Campbell reported on projected traffic patterns and transit information for drivers preparing for their morning commute. There were often live breaking news events; she utilized maps and cameras to give a dynamic report at noon and an update at five p.m.
Life after traffic reporting
Campbell has experienced a few career transitions since her traffic reporting days.
Her passion for traffic safety increased after her sister sustained a traumatic brain injury as a pedestrian. Campbell became the Director of Volunteers at the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts.
She lectured at Suffolk University and worked in safety, media relations and outreach, mainly with the state Department of Transportation. In 2014, AARP Massachusetts posted an opening for communications director; she’s been there ever since.
“I do miss live reporting,” she said. “But I also don’t have to get up at three a.m.”
Campbell’s skills acquired as a traffic reporter are evident in her press releases and articles, earned and paid media campaigns, and occasional radio programs and video spots.
She loves keeping AARP Massachusetts’ 775,000 members informed, so she learns every detail about the topics that affect seniors, such as age discrimination toward older workers and job seekers.
“They’ve been completely upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are looking to change careers,” she said.
Since 2020, everything has changed – the types of information that is communicated, how information is relayed and how people receive it.
“One of my biggest areas of focus has been getting information out about how and where to get the vaccine and about stimulus payments issued during COVID-19,” she said.
AARP Massachusetts touts providing “news and information important to Bay State residents age 50-plus.” To that end, Campbell works tirelessly to update the official site (AARP.org/Massachusetts), social media and blog.
“Our website is the first thing we want people to think about when they are looking for information,” she said.
Advocating for older adults
Advocacy is central to AARP’s mission. The organization is currently working to establish the caregiving tax credit bill; protect and strengthen Medicare; and promote livable communities. Campbell contributes by writing op-eds, columns, speeches and statements.
“My job as director of communications is to support our advocacy team at AARP at the local and federal level – Mike Festa, state director of AARP, in particular,” she said.
There’s no doubt that 56-year-old Campbell knows her job; but her thirst for knowledge remains unquenched. She took up guitar not long ago.
“I’m terrible. I’ll never play in front of anybody,” she said, laughing. “But it is something that I enjoy doing. As we age, it’s incumbent upon all of us to keep learning new things. Learning keeps us young and gives us the ability to live our best lives.”