PRWeek UK Awards Winners 2021: In-house Team of the Year (Public/Third Sector)

This award went to London North Eastern Railway (LNER) for its comms about COVID-19 safety while inspiring customers to think about where they would go when restrictions were lifted.

 London North Eastern Railway (LNER)
London North Eastern Railway (LNER)

Winner – London North Eastern Railway (LNER)

LNER internal and external communications are focused on three strategic pillars – to inspire, discover and inform. Most of the work in the past year was in the ‘inform’ space, keeping people safe and educating them about COVID-19 safety, with a sprinkling of ‘inspire’ to get customers thinking about where they would go when restrictions were lifted.

The comms function, which grew from a team of just three in early 2019 to 23 during the pandemic, stepped up quickly when COVID-19 hit, creating a range of new internal comms and engagement initiatives. It also created a new volunteering policy, LNER Reserves, helping colleagues to connect with volunteering opportunities – the team calculates this delivered more than £120,000 of social value to communities.

Externally, the team engaged new and existing audiences with a range of content, such as a film showing a driver’s-eye view of its East Coast route, which got national media pick-up. An International Women’s Day campaign encouraged more women to pursue a career in the rail industry – the comms team itself is 45 per cent female, a proportion three times higher than the rail industry workforce as a whole. Other campaigns showcased eco-conscious travel tips in a Green Guide and promoted Scottish cuisine. On top of that, the team found itself dealing with the sorts of crises that public transport inevitably entails.

All this work has kept LNER high on the news and political agenda. Surveys show that more than 90 per cent of colleagues agreed LNER was doing its best to keep them informed about its COVID-19 response, with 86 per cent praising the new opportunities for connecting with one other.

The judges said

A really honest and inspiring entry from a team that developed and executed some great proactive work having been brought together in a short space of time. They are well set up to respond to an ever-changing landscape and delivered some fantastic results.

Highly commended – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Alongside crucial communications related to the pandemic – including a bulletin that a staff survey says is read by 92 per cent of colleagues – the team’s long-running content campaign Find Your Place has had huge success attracting medical trainees. In a region that has often struggled to recruit, vacancy fill rates rose from 76 per cent in 2015/16 to 96 per cent last year.


British Medical Association

Dogs Trust

Macmillan Cancer Support

Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

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