The gulls, nicknamed Graeme and Steve by TfL, made a surprise appearance on traffic cameras at a junction on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel in Poplar, East London – no doubt warning drivers of fowl traffic ahead.
The birds’ antics, which include posing and appearing to talk to the camera, quickly earned them a place in people’s hearts and minds, as well giving TfL some of its best public engagement to date on Twitter.
Due to popular demand, a quick update from our reporter just north of the Blackwall Tunnel..... pic.twitter.com/NxKVMqGca3— TfL Traffic News (@TfLTrafficNews) April 30, 2019
Tweets from the @TfLTrafficNews account had 8.4 million impressions, with one of the videos getting 2.8 million views, 28,000 retweets, 80,000 likes and 1.1 million total engagements, TfL said.
Keen to stick their beaks into the story, a murmuration of media outlets' newsrooms, from across Europe to as far afield as India, got into a flap over the story.
Domestic coverage included the Express newspaper, Metro and BBC London. The feathery tale was also included in Friday’s edition of Have I Got News For You.
Mika Murray, a press officer at TfL, told PRWeek: "Our role in managing some of London’s busiest roads isn’t always as well-known as other areas of TfL, so when our eagle-eyed Control Centre staff first noticed the antics of Graeme and Steve, they spotted a brilliant opportunity to drive engagement on our social-media accounts. We’ve had global media interest in our new feathered colleagues and, along with some great visual content and a few bad puns, we’ve used the opportunity to give our Network Management Control Centre [its] moment in the spotlight."
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