OAKLAND, CA: Amtrak is honoring the black men who worked as attendants on trains in the early 1900s – the Pullman Porters – in celebration of the history of the railroad in general, as well as Black History Month. The railroad planned an event for today, February 10, in conjunction with Chicago's A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum - the third in a series that kicked off last February in Washington.
Amtrak originally conceived of the program specifically for employees and communicated internally through its Intranet, its Amtrak This Week newsletter, and posters about the program. Darlene Abubakar, director of national advertising for Amtrak, said Images USA, Amtrak's AOR for the black and Hispanic segments, convinced the company to spread the word into the community.
"The story of the Pullman Porters is a story that is not often reported; it is not often known about," Abubakar said. "It is a part of our goals to recognize the diversity of our employees, of our riders, and to basically connect with the communities that we serve."
Images reached out to national and local print and broadcast outlets in the general market, African-American market, and travel industry.
"In each case, we found that there is a great interest in the media in the home state of the Porters that we're recognizing," Abubakar said. "As the story has broadened, we're getting national media is picking it up as well."
Online outreach focused on sites targeting the black community, such as BlackEnterprise.com.
"The PR approach was to invite media to ride on the train with the Porters," Abubakar added. "See them riding on the train, and have them talk about the differences and how times have changed."