Train operators' group on hunt for Plews replacement

The Association of Train Operating Companies is on the hunt for a PR chief.

The position at ATOC - which includes Virgin Trains, Connex and GNER among its members - has been vacant since the departure of director of communications Derek Plews to the Ministry of Defence late last year.

Since his departure the post has been changed to include a more strategic role and comes with the new title of director of strategic communications.

The postholder will oversee all PR, including internal and external communications and publications, and report directly to ATOC director-general George Muir.

ATOC's most-recent communications project has seen a greater emphasis on marketing than previous campaigns. Last month it linked up with retailer WHSmith for the first nationwide rail promotion in a decade. This latest campaign runs until 21 May.

ATOC spokesman Jay Merritt said: 'We are looking to see if this is a success and possibly follow it with similar offers.'

ATOC's last PR campaign, 'It's Time To Return', was criticised by passenger groups and advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority.

The ASA said a phrase on posters for the £3m campaign, claiming that 'fast and frequent services are back across the network' was misleading since while some services had improved this was not the case nationwide.

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