Getting coverage for transport arrangements at busy holiday times can be somewhat hit and miss. I have lost count of the number of Press Releases I sent out during my time in the railway industry that received little, or even worse, no coverage.
The key was to capture the imagination and as any PR and media professional will tell you, 'a picture paints a thousand words', so top marks to the PR team at East Coast. Whilst I would probably thought "just another travel announcement", the image which went with it made me look again and then read the release.
This really is a case of thinking outside the box and in my opinion works extremely well, so not only have I read the press release, it is reproduced below.
Taking the train this Christmas? Don’t bring the kitchen sink!
That’s the advice from East Coast, as preparations continue ahead of the traditionally busy festive travel period.
The train operator says that almost 72,000 people have already reserved seats to travel on its services between Monday 22 December and Christmas Eve – while on Saturday 27 December alone, almost 30,000 passengers are booked to travel with East Coast.
It’s now advising everyone to think about what they plan to bring with them, to ensure there is enough space not just for passengers but also for presents.
East Coast Commercial and Customer Service Director Peter Williams said: “Our trains are always busy before and after Christmas, as thousands choose the train as a more relaxed alternative to flying or driving to be with family and friends.
“In recent years we’ve seen a trend towards people bringing bigger suitcases and other bulky luggage onto our trains. While all our trains do have dedicated areas for luggage, there is always a limit to how much space we have, and it has to be shared by everyone on-board the train.
“Of course, we understand that it’s Christmas and our customers will want to bring presents with them as they travel – we’re just saying, don’t bring the kitchen sink!”
East Coast says passengers can bring up to three pieces of luggage with them on-board its trains. Of these, two can be larger items (no bigger than 90 cms x 70 cms x 30 cms) plus one piece of hand luggage: oversized luggage might be refused in passenger accommodation if it is likely to obstruct doorways, gangways or corridors.
For those making a journey from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley and vice versa, a free luggage check-in service will be operating for most daytime services from Friday 19 December to Sunday 4 January 2015 inclusive. Staff will be available on the platform to stow luggage safely and securely in the guard’s van, which can then be reclaimed at the end of the journey. The service will be available from 30 minutes before train departs, and will close 10 minutes before departure time: those wishing to take advantage of this service are advised to allow plenty of extra time to reach their departure point.
Services over Christmas and the New Year are normally busy, and customers are advised to book in advance to secure a seat, at www.eastcoast.co.uk, by calling 03457 225225 or at stations or rail travel agents.
Revised timetables will be in place on East Coast services from Tuesday 23 December 2014 to Friday 2 January 2015 inclusive. As in previous years, no East Coast services will operate on Christmas Day or Boxing Day (Thursday 25 and Friday 26 December 2014) and on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, services will finish earlier than a normal weekday.
Information on East Coast services over the festive season are available in a free booklet from East Coast served stations, on its website here: http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/travel-information/a-guide-to-christmas-and-new-year-travel/ and from National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50. Live information on the day of travel is also available on the East Coast website, or by following @eastcoastuk on Twitter.
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.