East Coast Trains – a Press Team Problem

A few months back, I developed an online community developed to users of East Coast Trains – Eyes OnEastCoast.

It’s a news, views and watchdog for passengers who use the line, which runs between London and Scotland.

The interest from passengers is certainly there and I’m really keen to give the community more time in order to really develop a strong and effective online community. I need to give it more time and attention. But so do the East Coast press team.

EyesOnEastCoast isn’t just about complaining the trains don’t run on time. It aims to be a user-led community which discusses what’s right, as much as what’s wrong. 

I’ve tried to communicate this to the press office but there seems to be a strong reluctance to respond. My main contact at the moment has generally (there are exceptions) been slow to respond and less-than-enthusiastic in tone. It’s obviously vital to develop a good relationship with what is a crucial source of information for the community.

But I know what needs to be done. I need to plough more time into the community and get it to grow. Not only will this make the press office more responsive but it should help illustrate the community’s use:

Many users have the same questions and experiences regarding East Coast – so by sharing any information publicy in response to one user, you can help or inform many others in the process.  My most recent email from the press office contained a request that I ask customers to get in touch directly – the implication was that they’d rather users didn’t go through me. I emailed back to clarify their request. Was I effectively being told to halt all communication with the press office? No response so far. 

Regardless, the most interesting thing was that they linked this request to the fact that they were a busy press office. They were saying, I assume, that there is not enough time for dealing with my communications. 

What the Press Office is therefore yet to see is that’s the whole point! We’re all very busy. We all don’t have time. But an online community means we can pool our time – ask questions, find answers, air grievances or share success.  I don’t think East Coast’s press office have grasped this yet. Maybe that’s my fault. It’s up to me to develop the community enough in order to illustrate its potential use.

If I still come up against a brick wall, one can only assume it’s a line that doesn’t want to be held to account but I hope that’s not the case.

Have you come across a tricky press office or comm’s team? How did you deal with it? Let me know!

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2 Responses to East Coast Trains – a Press Team Problem

  1. Lucy says:

    As a rail user, I find the service you’re trying to offer an exceptional idea. As you said, pooling resources and condensing individual complaints into something of a digest effectively saves them time. Going to them directly unfortunately means you get trapped in a complaint system. What I’ve found is that people aren’t usually holding their hands out for compensation, they just want a reasonable explanation of what’s happened. Take the issues with the body on the tracks today, for instance. One thing that’s come from the press reports is that on-train staff were very good during the situation: that’s good news that surely the press office would like related to them.

  2. Hi Lucy, huge thanks for your comment. Really encouraging!!!! Completely agree it’s often just that human desire to know what’s behind a problem. And if the cause is a reasonable one, people are in turn generally (although there are exceptions!) pretty reasonable.,

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