I was interested to read that Southern Rail has attempted to win round the court of public opinion with a PR stunt on social media. The much-derided rail operator put a teenager on work experience in charge of its Twitter account and encouraged the public to ask him questions. This was hugely successful, with the enquirers coining the hashtag #AskEddie, which trended, and transformed the feed from its usual barrage of complaints into people asking Eddie what they should have for tea.
Given Southern's recent and not-so-recent woes, this was a clever piece of publicity which has certainly increased its standing in the public eye. However, as some have noted, Twitter won't make the trains run on time - although, for Southern's unfortunate commuters, it does serve as a welcome distraction from the continued delays and cancellations they experience.
It has been branded Britain’s most hated rail company after delays, thousands of cancellations and one of the worst industrial disputes for years. Southern Rail has now come up with a novel way of getting the travelling public on side: put a teenager in charge. The operator won some friends this week by allowing a 15-year-old boy on work experience to control its Twitter feed. Eddie, from south London, became an instant hit after answering a range of questions covering everything from holidays, television, food, GCSEs, how he secured his placement and the performance of his temporary employer’s trains.