The context of this situation was that I am public relations consultant for Grand Northern Railroad, a railroad company located in the North East. As a consultant to Grand Northern the senior level managers sought my counsel in regards to the problems they are facing within their organization. There has been a swarm of negative publicity around Grand Northern’s train system in light of their latest locomotive issues. My duty was to analyze the situation at hand and come up with the best piece of strategic communication to respond to the situation.
The situation being dealt with is as follows:
“The Grand Northern Railroad couldn’t get a break. In the summer came the floods. In the winter came the snow. In between came the cows mistaking the GN tracks for grazing land. For the 50,000 commuters who depended on the Grand Northern to get them to and from work each day, it meant perpetual and massive delays. The GN – or as it was derisively labelled by its riders, the Grand Nuisance – was a laughingstock.
One afternoon, Grand Northern’s president decided to take action. He called a press conference. “From now on’, he told the skeptical journalists, “this railroad will run on time every time. We will make a concerted effort to improve all phases of our customer service. You’re going to see a real change in this railroad.” He went on to announce a special program that would award bonuses to staff members demonstrating superior service to customers.
The next morning, sixteen miles from its destination, in the middle of an expansive open field miles from civilization, the GN Mainliner – pride of the GN fleet – sputtered miserably, coughed one last puff of steam, and collapsed with a groan leaving hundreds of irate commuters to ponder their morning headline: “Grand Northern Promises ‘Real Change’ for Passengers.”
The best tactic to reach our public is a feature article. The purpose of this article is to restore confidence of the commuters in the organization.
GN Commuters Not Prepared to Break-up With GN Over the Break-down
It’s a crisp fall morning, the leaves are crunching under peoples feet as they to board the 9:30 train to work. Many snag their favorite seat and begin to review notes for their 10:30 meeting when the GN premier train, the GN Mainliner suffered engine failure. Stranded, 50,000 passengers who relied on Grand Northern Railroad to get them to work promptly.
The frantic passengers came together after promptly being escorted from the broken down train. They were immediately greeted and calmed down by GN conductor Dan Delia a familiar face to all commuters for over 25 years.
“That’s my job, people know me and know that they can trust me to get them safely to where they need to be.” Said Delia. “I know GN’s having a lot of problems lately but they’ve been getting me from point A to point B for years and I’m going to stick with them because they have always been reliable for me in the past” said long time GN rider Jane still enjoying her morning latte.
If you happened to be on the top floor of Grand Northern Railroad’s headquarters after the breakdown you would not have recognize the GN offices. Execs loosened ties, cancelled lunch dates, kicked off their penny loafers and started frantically dialing away to correct this problem promptly and efficiently.
GN president Phil Green and Dan Delia addressed all commuters and employees shortly after the breakdown later that morning.
As President Green faced the press’ prodding questions he managed to exude the attitude of GN and handled each question with eloquence. President Green was able to calm the worries of all Grand Northern passengers.
“We are asking that all of our wonderful loyal commuters continue to stick with us,” said Mr. Green “we are in the process of updating all GN equipment and installing the proper precautions to keep our trains running swiftly and promptly to all destinations.” The duo answered all questions and worries with eloquence. Even finding time to joke with commuters and reports exemplifying the friendly like environment Grand Northern is known for.
“We recognize that we tried to accomplish too much too fast for our customers,” said Delia as he looked around the room making brief but strong eye contact with those in the room. “we realize now taking our time and producing a better outcome for our commuters is a better route for GN…we are inspired by our commuters loyalty and plan on honoring that loyalty by building and better strong GN that we can all be proud of.”
GN has promised free train vouchers to each passenger and is continuing in their efforts to award bonuses to staff members demonstrating superior service to customers to increase customer satisfaction.
“I have faith in GN, not because of what they are saying they are going to do but because I as a commuter can see the effort they are putting in…they are trying to give their commuters the best experience, and as a commuter that means a lot to me.” Said Amanda Culloty, who relies on GN to get her to and from work daily.
“Come Monday morning all problems solved or not I know that at the end of the ride I am in trustworthy hands who will take care of my needs and I appreciate the efforts GN is taking to ensure that I will be able to enjoy pumpkin spiced lattes without any more delays.” said Melly Marrington local resident and another long time GN commuter.