Some thoughts on where #Eurostar's communications went wrong

There are plenty of people rushing to judge Eurostar this weekend. The headline on TechCrunch is almost comical – “As hundreds of Eurostar passengers languish, Eurostar ignores Twitter.” On the face of it, it’s rather like saying “As shelves run dry of food, Tesco ignores Susan Boyle.” It’s quite random. TechCrunch’s view of the issue is pretty narrow (as this post from We are social shows.)

The whole communications effort could have been better, and the speed of the social media response is just one symptom – hopefully Eurostar will take some lessons away from this weekend.

Where did Eurostar go wrong?

  • It’s worth saying that when it comes to PR, Eurostar were unlucky – as ever there’s not a lot of news around at Christmas, and this is a big story which is relatively low effort / low cost to cover.¬† Dramatic though it is, is it really a bigger story than a vulnerable¬†toddler being abducted from a police station? Personally I don’t believe so – but there are unfortunately a lot of angry passengers in the Eurostar story who are able to keep the story running.
  • It sounds like there was confusion in Eurostar HQWe are social’s Robin Grant describes grabbing the chief executive for a minute “in between various crisis meetings”, and being sat alongside the Sales and Marketing Director.¬† In a situation as fast moving and high profile as this, the key people could have worked better together if they had been co-located in one room. It would have been good to see Eurostar’s crisis team validate or update their corporate message every thirty minutes, while managing the operational challenge.
  • I think Eurostar could have picked a better core message – the explanation offered about changes in temperature affecting the trains left more questions than answers. Over time it looked like the company didn’t know what was causing the breakdowns, so it would have been more credible to say “we don’t know what’s happened to the trains, but we’re working as fast as possible to understand it.” There was also an attempt to move too quickly to the final stage of the comms plan – the review and compensation line – when practical operational comms to passengers was needed. (more…)