Connex, the under-fire train operator, has revamped its
communications function, creating an in-house PA unit and tasking
Grandfield Public Relations with a corporate reputation building
Connex became the first operator since rail privatisation to be stripped
of a franchise when its South Central service was awarded to the
Go-Ahead group last October. The move followed a glut of bad publicity
about late and cancelled trains.
Owned by French group Vivendi Environment, Connex had previously
retained Citigate Westminster on a PA brief.
The appointment of MD Olivier Brousse at Easter sparked a communications
review, marked by the departure of corporate affairs director Rosemary
Drummond, the conclusion of Citigate's brief, and the arrival of Deborah
Pester from the Law Society as external relations manager to head the
In addition to corporate PR, Grandfield will assume a role in deciding
PA strategy, which will then be executed in-house.
Connex sought to bring the PA operation closer to the day-to-day running
of the business, and considered a dedicated lobbying consultancy
The department will be strengthened with two further PROs in due
Grandfield was appointed to the account after a recommendation by Connex
non-executive director Tony Palmer, a former Grandfield client as CEO of
building firm Taylor Woodrow.
Agency executive chairman Charles Cook, who leads the account, admitted
that the brief represented 'one of the most challenging corporate
repositioning jobs in the UK'.
Connex is currently bidding for two new licences. The Strategic Rail
Authority is believed to have recommended to transport minister Stephen
Byers that the firm be awarded the franchise for the trans-Pennine rail
link, while Connex is also bidding to run services in the Welsh borders.