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Communications Committee
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Graham



Joined: 21 May 2011
Posts: 894
Location: The banks of the River Severn as it meanders through the sun dappled leafy glades of Worcestershire

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:20 pm    Post subject: Communications Committee Reply with quote

The SVR now has a Communications Committee, chaired by Duncan Chandler, with Steph Beaman, Ian Hollis and myself as members so far, but with the likelihood of adding others in the near future.
I only joined today at the second meeting, so I'm still catching up on what's going on myself.

The key aims and objectives include such things as;
"To develop communications to existing and prospective members through all media"
"Develop a better understanding of why members leave",
"Identify and find ways of effectively communicating the value of membership"
"Find ways of identifying why members do not renew...to improve retention/growth"
"Ensure websites, Facebook, forums etc. are use to publicise membership, volunteering and benefits"


I went in to the meeting not really knowing what to expect, so I took my own ideas on communication improvements with me, which were maybe a bit more literal;
Diesel Depot award. Why did this first appear in the Kidderminster Shuttle?

These matters, and so many others, must be known about well in advance by someone at Comberton Place, yet they don't seem to consider that the wider membership might be interested and pass the information on.
I feel that an organisation that relies so much on volunteers should do everything possible to make those volunteers feel involved by passing on as much inside information as possible, wherever it's not commercially confident.
The present Q&A system is a bit formal and makes any minor request for information sound a bit dramatic. I suggested we should have some informal way of either asking questions, or preferably pre-empting them.

In line with the above mentioned objectives, I also suggested the third paragraph on the VLO Contact page could be altered to make it a bit more welcoming, and perhaps the Volunteer Liaison Office could be forced to liaise with the volunteers via social media whether they like it or not.

Has anyone got any comments on this?
I was chosen for this role because I'm active on here, Facebook and the wiki. I haven't actually got the power to do anything, but I can at least pass suggestions on.

We could always start with the basics;
If you're not a member, why not?
If you're not a working member, why not?
What could the railway do to make you take the first step?
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Graham Phillips
Acting deputy assistant junior under minion, Bewdley Wagon Department.


Last edited by Graham on Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mrmover



Joined: 31 Jan 2007
Posts: 863
Location: Shropshire

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope that you haven't accepted the Poisoned Chalice, Graham!

As you say, you are a frequent user of this blog, and I know that you have a good understanding of some of the frustrations experienced by many of the different stakeholders.

I have said it before; the membership, or at least the overwhelming majority, have the SVR in their heart, and want it to succeed. They want to know what is happening - to feel part of the Railway Community. In my view, communication, by whatever method, has to be lynch pin. Imagine going into the Railwayman's arms and asking for the price of a pint of Bathams, only to be told that you have to look on Facebook! But that is what happens in several Departments.

As you say, the very long winded way of asking questions is dramatic, and, at least for people like myself, makes it impossible. Why? - because I do not use my full name when posting, for reasons that I have previously advised.

Take a look at some other Railway's websites - The West Somerset and the Bluebell spring to mind and see what happens there.

I do hope that this committee is not a false dawn, and fails to materialise, a bit like the online shop.

I wish you the best of luck and all support with this.
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Danny252



Joined: 01 Oct 2009
Posts: 1151

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Diesel Depot award. Why did this first appear in the Kidderminster Shuttle?


I would echo this - very rarely does the SVR actually seem to announce its own news. I often see awards or information on the share offer appearing in local news before SVR sources mention it (if at all), whilst information on galas and visiting locomotives invariably seems to appear in the railway press before the SVR remembers to tell everyone. I presume that for many of these items, the SVR has actually put out a press release, but either doesn't self-publish this, or it appears on the website some time later.

(Edit: I now see there are rumours about GBRf and DRS locos for the 2017 Diesel Gala; if true, I expect the SVR will tell us as soon as we all know about it!)

For an example of an organisation handling their own press releases well, ESO Astronomy do very well, and I often hear about news relating to them via their Facebook feed before anywhere else.

On a separate note, I'm curious as to why there is so much secrecy around the railway's locomotives. I, nor anyone else I speak to, have any idea what is happening to 4566, what locomotives are likely to be next out from overhaul (except e.g. the 2896 and 82045 groups giving out information on their own projects). Patrick has spent quite some time trying to work out what work is being done on 2857, but all he's got are second hand reports from someone who happened to talk to someone else in Bridgnorth MPD!
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oliver



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 870
Location: Bridgnorth

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
On a separate note, I'm curious as to why there is so much secrecy around the railway's locomotives. I, nor anyone else I speak to, have any idea what is happening to 4566, what locomotives are likely to be next out from overhaul (except e.g. the 2896 and 82045 groups giving out information on their own projects). Patrick has spent quite some time trying to work out what work is being done on 2857, but all he's got are second hand reports from someone who happened to talk to someone else in Bridgnorth MPD!

I think the SVR social media policy might have something to do with this to some degree. There does seem to be a culture of fear or trepidation about posting things online these days, especially to sites like facebook. Whereas in the past, people (including myself) would happily post updates about loco's, this does now seem to be frowned upon. For example, I was told that I should not post information about the nature locomotive failures because this is classed as an 'operational issue'. Whilst I respect this, it begs the question of where do you draw the line and distinguish between 'sensitive information' and general news?? This is only my own opinion.
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madderlake



Joined: 22 Jul 2007
Posts: 261
Location: Bridgnorth

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oliver wrote:

I think the SVR social media policy might have something to do with this to some degree. There does seem to be a culture of fear or trepidation about posting things online these days, especially to sites like facebook. Whereas in the past, people (including myself) would happily post updates about loco's, this does now seem to be frowned upon. For example, I was told that I should not post information about the nature locomotive failures because this is classed as an 'operational issue'. Whilst I respect this, it begs the question of where do you draw the line and distinguish between 'sensitive information' and general news?? This is only my own opinion.

I think this need airing. For example I would have been able to explain why 7714 did not make it for the end of season gala, but, as everybody seemed to be keeping schtum, I did not feel I should. But, if I had done so, I can well see the explanation, however carefully expressed, and in fact not a huge deal, being (wilfully) misunderstood, misrepresented and blown out of proportion by people who know less than they think about engineering.
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Danny252



Joined: 01 Oct 2009
Posts: 1151

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oliver wrote:
I think the SVR social media policy might have something to do with this to some degree.


It does indeed seem to be that the Social Media Policy is what's being quoted as the restriction on this, but I've not yet seen anyone state which part, unless mundane news about locomotive XYZ really is considered confidential information (which, I presume, is then freely discussed with all and sundry in the pub without repercussion!).
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hearn_p



Joined: 15 Nov 2003
Posts: 5675
Location: North Somerset

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Posted without comment

Quote:
Do not [...] Comment on sensitive business-related topics such as problems with locomotive management [...] if it is likely that you do not know the full facts.



Patrick
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hearn_p



Joined: 15 Nov 2003
Posts: 5675
Location: North Somerset

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have access to FB and SVR Live, but not the website. I didn't get the diesel depot PR, they have made sure I am on the distribution list so hopefully that won't reoccur.

Patrick
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hearn_p



Joined: 15 Nov 2003
Posts: 5675
Location: North Somerset

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excuse the multiple postings

Danny252 wrote:
I would echo this - very rarely does the SVR actually seem to announce its own news. I often see awards or information on the share offer appearing in local news before SVR sources mention it (if at all), whilst information on galas and visiting locomotives invariably seems to appear in the railway press before the SVR remembers to tell everyone.


Back to beginning of December it is by my reckoning 25% missed, the missing ones being the awards and 4566, all traced back to my name dropping off the PR list in error. All the share offers for example you heard it on SVRLive first I think (from NBI and GM's report). I've excluded the incidences of locos off on tour because those are announced by the gala hosts.

In these days of instant communication mind it is hitting the news the same day they receive it so it might depend the order in which you see it. I have news alerts and it comes through very quickly. What's in the news but not reported Dan? I'm not aware I've missed any?

I will declare I had deadline so didn't post stuff for a day. The next evening I had 11 items to post up which perhaps puts it in perspective.

On the freight locos I don't know. From experience Gus Dunster is very quick off the mark so I guess there is nothing to announce, at least yet.

4566 btw is on SVR Live (media) and in Express Points.

Patrick

P.S. Question and Answer session 11.45am - 1.15pm Saturday 25th February 2017 http://www.svrlive.com/working-members (also in Express Points)
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long_m



Joined: 07 Jul 2003
Posts: 24
Location: Colchester Essex

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a welcome development and I can only hope it succeeds. The question was posed as to why members do not volunteer. Well I can only cite my own case. I desperately would like to volunteer on the SVR. All ambition of being loco crew has gone with age (sigh!). I am a good "people" person and volunteered for duty at the engine house and attended the associated induction sessions. After that nothing was heard so I assumed that I was not wanted.

Living as I do a long way from the railway, I really need access to reasonable and economic accommodation. I cannot afford to expend 300 a week to volunteer! I asked about accommodation on the induction day and was told that there are coaches at Arley and BN. I was not told how you book these or indeed what is offered by them. (The BN ones do not look too wonderful!) When you see what the W&L and Festiniog offer their volunteers, it seems a lot better than an old coach!

So the offer is still on the table and I would love to help out in a practical and meaningful way apart from coughing up money when required. So over to you Graham .... what can be done?

Martin Long (Colchester)
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Divington_R



Joined: 05 Feb 2016
Posts: 200
Location: Nuneaton

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some good intent is indicated.

The key aims and objectives include such things as;
"To develop communications to existing and prospective members through all media"

There has been one subject that seems to be treated as an inner sanctum strict secret and this baffles me. I am talking about the lack of reporting on the yearly build up of passenger numbers. Why when other organisations are much more open and quick to report their numbers? Is this something the new committee could publish at the end of each month?

I have to say I am surprised the shareholders do not demand this data every month.
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Graham



Joined: 21 May 2011
Posts: 894
Location: The banks of the River Severn as it meanders through the sun dappled leafy glades of Worcestershire

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There seem to be three themes within the committee.

1. I was told about two weeks before the second meeting that I was invited. All I knew was the title and I assumed it was some sort of extension of Patrick's work. It was only on the day before the meeting that I asked who else was going to be there and was surprised that Patrick's name wasn't on the list.
My idea that it was going to be about communication between management and staff/members/volunteers was a bit wide of the mark.

2. Typical of the items discussed at the meeting was drinking water for loco crews in warm weather. They are entitled to free bottles of water from the buffet, but often don't get time to collect it during run rounds at Kidderminster, so wanted the buffet staff to deliver it to the loco without waiting to be asked.
Things like this are a lack of communication between departments and simply need someone to pass a message up, across and down from one lot of front line staff to another, via their HoDs.
I suppose I could help with things like this as there must be many instances where someone wants to suggest something, but doesn't want to raise a formal request or grievance, so I could collect informal suggestions via here, Facebook or in person at Bewdley, and pass them on at our next meeting.

3. The stated aims are focused mainly on membership growth and retention.
I've always thought that market research is done the wrong way round.
Tesco can ask me as many questions as they like about whether I enjoyed my shopping experience with them and if I found everything I wanted, but what they need to do is catch me when I'm going in to Sainsbury's and ask me why I'm not going to Tesco.
We need to engage with SVR enthusiasts who are not SVR members or volunteers and find out why. As the unofficial Facebook group is probably the best place to find them, that's where I'll start.
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Graham



Joined: 21 May 2011
Posts: 894
Location: The banks of the River Severn as it meanders through the sun dappled leafy glades of Worcestershire

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To go over some of the points raised above;

I think some of the recent Bridgnorth news first appeared in the Shropshire Star, but on the other hand, someone at Bridgnorth is doing an excellent job of updating the progress via Facebook.
I think there have been several occasions where Sharpo or others have spotted something on Real Time Trains which has led to speculation as to what it might be. Somebody must have booked it in and know what it is and people like to see unusual movements, so why not publicise it?

2857. The Chairman of the 2857 Society is also the deputy head of the Wagon Department, so I'll see what I can find out there. However, the most recent update on the SVRES web site is still 2013 and their latest tweet is from last October. Again, people are interested to know what's going on, they should be told.

I think the recent warning about a particular locomotive failure and the social media policy was just one person's interpretation, not official policy. I'm not aware of any other discussion on mechanical failure being disallowed.
I would take "...sensitive business-related topics such as problems with locomotive management..." to be just that, not mechanical failure.
There was an operational question once which I answered, making it clear that my answer was just a guess based on public information, but which I was asked to delete as it turned out I had guessed correctly and negotiations were still underway.


long_m, I'm sure I have heard similar stories before. The problem as I see it is that the head of the VLO hates social media and everyone who uses it. Last time there was a minor misunderstanding when the VLO web site said there were no current vacancies, while many members were stating via Facebook that their department was short staffed, he threatened to resign, so I don't want to be the one to tell him that the work of the VLO is being questioned on the SVRA forum.
The husband of the Head of Education at the Engine House (I'm not sure that's her exact title or role, but it's close enough) is the head of the Wagon Department, so again, I'll make enquiries about getting in there directly.
I don't know about booking accommodation. There's probably something on SVR On Line, but you won't have access to that until you become a working member and you can't become a working member until you can arrange cheap accommodation...
Does anyone else know the procedure?

Passenger numbers is another one of those things where someone at Comberton Place knows the answer, but isn't passing the information on.
One thing that was suggested at our meeting was that any question asked via the Q&A forum or Engine House sessions should be answered within a certain time, say within one one week of the following board meeting at least. If that comes in to force, then the way to do it would be to put in a monthly request for the figures until hopefully, someone starts giving them voluntarily.
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hearn_p



Joined: 15 Nov 2003
Posts: 5675
Location: North Somerset

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Martin

Volunteer sleeping accommodation arrangements at Bridgnorth are on the working members' section of SVRLive and can be accessed at http://www.svrlive.com/working-members

Upgraded volunteer accommodation arrangements at Bridgnorth form part of the development project for which the share offer is seeking to raise funds. Taken from the announcement on 19/8/16, which can be found at http://www.svrlive.com/copy-of-bridgnorth-development-1 is the following:

Quote:
The third phase will be the erection of a 53-bed accommodation building with workshop, stores and office for the MPD underneath. This will then release 'George's Siding' (adjacent to Platform 1) for operational use.


Plans can be found at http://www.svrlive.com/copy-of-bridgnorth-development

Regards

Patrick
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hearn_p



Joined: 15 Nov 2003
Posts: 5675
Location: North Somerset

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny252 wrote:


(Edit: I now see there are rumours about GBRf and DRS locos for the 2017 Diesel Gala; if true, I expect the SVR will tell us as soon as we all know about it!)



As of tonight a comment on official FB:

Quote:
Yes mainline engines will feature- more announcements on that in due course


I am sure that means it is not yet announceable

Patrick
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