HS1 awards six-figure PR and events contract to Clarion Communications

HS1 has awarded a £370,000 consumer communications brief to Clarion, following a competitive tender process to find a new PR agency.

Trains bound for the continent wait on platforms at St Pancras Station, which Clarion will promote as part of a three-year PR contract
Trains bound for the continent wait on platforms at St Pancras Station, which Clarion will promote as part of a three-year PR contract
The operator of the 109km high-speed rail link between London's St Pancras station and the Channel Tunnel has appointed Clarion Communications to provide PR and event services for the duration of a three-year contract.

HS1 operates the line and the four stations serving the track between London and Kent under a 30-year concession agreement with the UK Secretary of State for Transport, signed in 2010. 

Promoting St Pancras International Station, which is owned by HS1, is an important aspect of the work, according to HS1 Limited commercial director Wendy Spinks. 

"St Pancras has always done high-profile PR activity over the years and we are proud of those pieces," she told PRWeek. "We don’t think this contract changes that. We went through a routine procurement process, and it is business as usual and consistent with what St Pancras has done for years."

Among the recent PR activity to take place at St Pancras was the cast of An American in Paris, who surprised passengers last week with a full costume musical performance.

The street pianos at the iconic station have also become part of its PR activity, with Grammy-winning musician John Legend putting on a performance in March after taking the Eurostar from Paris to London. 

Spinks added that the station’s art programme and launches of new brands and retailers were also important in attracting positive attention.

"It’s just what St Pancras does in terms of running activities that are high profile and attract some media coverage," said Spinks.

Clarion Communications confirmed it had won the contract and had already carried out several campaigns for HS1 since being appointed.

In 2011, start-up agency Place won its bid for HS1’s communications work following a six-agency competitive pitch process, after former incumbent London Communications Agency declined to re-pitch. 

HS1 is responsible for the operations, maintenance, and renewal of the track and associated infrastructure, as well as the four stations served by the route: St Pancras International, Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International.

The rail operator has recently undergone a period of change and a strategic review in July concluded with a plan to sell HS1, although it remains within its concession agreement with the UK government.

A consortium comprising HICL Infrastructure Company, Equitix Investment Management and InfraRed Capital Partners signed the deal to buy HS1 on 7 September from previous investors OMERS Administration Corporation and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board.

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