Transport Notification Monitor - Hay Lets Communicate

Respond to the rail timetable crisis in 2018 and provide technical and communications advice to the Greater Manchester Mayor and other regional leaders and bodies.

Work with expert colleagues both in the business and within the wider rail industry to understand the daily issues, impacts and causes and provide easy to understand and non-rail language based factual briefings and support.

Also use relationships to identify and advise on appropriate solutions and next steps.

Significant levels of trust have been developed with the Greater Manchester Mayor and his advisors and briefings are used both for political and stakeholder meetings but also for press engagement and communications to Government departments.

Strike Action Stop Sign

Manage organisational reputation and provide customer information in light of a potentially operational debilitating industrial dispute.

A proactive communications strategy was developed to get the business on the front foot and provide a clear organisational view to colleagues and customers.

Minutes of the union meetings were published to the driver workforce allowing full transperency in the discussions, special newsletters were produced, Directors and senior managers were deployed to depots to offer open and frank Q and A sessions and direct mail was sent to drivers home addresses.

A special commissioned (and private) radio style phone in was aired giving drivers the unique opportunity to speak to the Managing Director, ask questions and hear the un-filtered version of the offer on the table.

Over 50 local journalists were also briefed on the deal and percentage pay rise being offered so that they could write balanced and accurate stories.

On the day of the strike action conducted 24 radio interviews before 0900 focusing on customer information and journey details. Customers phoned into stations and commented they understood the dispute and had heard and agreed with the business messaging.

At the forefront of communications the top objective was not to disengage drivers colleagues as a deal was always going to be reached and it was important that no negative internal sentiment remained.

Matt Hay won the PR Moment Award for Crisis Communications for his work on this project.

Train Crisis - Hay Lets Communicate

Respond to an early morning serious train crash on a freezing cold first day of service after the Christmas break.

As the media on call officer I was contacted by the emergency control centre and advised that a serious train derailment had occurred inside a frozen cross-Pennine tunnel and that there was a serious risk of injury and death on the railway.

Participated in an multi functional emergency conference call to ascertain known facts and agree with senior directors an operational and communications response plan.

+ Significant liaison with communications colleagues from the emergency services, Network Rail, Incident Response Teams, local authorities and rail and safety regulators
+ Media engagement through statements, press releases and question response
+ Internal communications explaining to colleagues about the incident and the response plan
+ Customer information explaining the situation and offering alternative travel options
+ Crisis comms management and staff rotating
+ Management of customer contact operations
+ Digital updates

Fortunately the incident was not as serious as initially thought with no fatalities or serious injuries but media coverage was significant and widespread. Through early, regular and transparent communications, coverage reflected the incident being caused by a freak weather event and focus shifted to the response rather than fault.

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