Marketing Department

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The SVRSevern Valley Railway's marketing function initiates and develops marketing and related PR activities to ensure the Severn Valley Railway remains the best visitor attraction in Worcestershire and Shropshire, maximising awareness and visitor numbers to deliver revenue that will be reinvested in the railway’s locomotives, carriages and infrastructure.

Marketing Department origins

The original Severn Valley Railway Society included the roles of Publicity Officer and Sales Officer.[1] Over the following years these roles developed into DepartmentalRolling stock used for the railway’s own functions (engineering etc.) rather than for general passenger or goods traffic. Managers for Sales and Publicity, with “Sales Department” reports regularly featuring in SVRSevern Valley Railway News during the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1994 the SVRSevern Valley Railway created a new position of Marketing Manager to “'improve the public face of the Railway, to assist our Commercial Departments to become more attractive to their customers, to improve the public's awareness of the SVRSevern Valley Railway and in so doing to bring in more visitors”. John Leach had previously been employed in a similar role by Flying Scotsman Services.[2]

Marketing Managers

A list of current and former managers is below.

Manager Dates Notes
John Leach Summer 1994[2] to July 2010 The SVRSevern Valley Railway's Sales and Marketing Manager and first Marketing Manager, John Leach died 29 July 2010.[3]
David Mee July 2010 to July 2012 David assumed responsibility for marketing matters in addition to his role as Visitor Services Manager.[4]
Clare Gibbard July 2012[5] to May 2018 Marketing & Communications Manager. Clare joined the SVRSevern Valley Railway in a part-time role after five years as UK Marketing Manager for the Japanese Mitsubishi Pencil Co.
Victoria Carman May to September 2018 Interim Marketing Manager
Nicola Davies November 2018 to 2019 Marketing and Sales Manager
Lisa Palmer October 2019 - December 2020 Head of Sales & Marketing
Lesley Carr July 2020 - Head of Communications[note 1]

Between around 2008 and 2011 David Wilcock undertook a role of 'Severn Valley Railway press officer' and 'SVRSevern Valley Railway Press & Media Affairs'.[6][7] Wilcock founded Steam Railway magazine and was its news editor, though also contributed as a freelance journalist to other outlets such as The Railway Magazine.

Organisation

A Marketing Committee of the Marketing Manager, staff and volunteers was in existence until February 2018 when the marketing function was reorganised as part of a Management Advisory Group structure, with a Marketing sub-group chaired by the Marketing Manager reporting to the Heritage Support Manager.[8]

The SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) organisation chart at August 2020 showed the Sales & Marketing Manager and Head of Communications reporting to the General Manager.

Marketing messages and campaigns

An incomplete list follows.

  • Every journey ends with a memory - current
  • SVRSevern Valley Railway TV advert on YouTube
  • 2011: Many Happy Returns - when visitors made their first visit to the SVRSevern Valley Railway in 2011 they received a voucher valid for a return visit in 2011 with one free ticket for each equivalent ticket purchased[9].

Other marketing activities

On train surveys

Volunteers hand out questionnaires to passengers, the responses to which are collated by the railway. The anonymous information helps determine where visitors come from how they heard about the railway, how they judge the facilities, where the railway perforned well and areas in which it can improve.

Online survey responses

From Christmas 2019 an online tool, Survey Monkey, was used[10].

Leaflet distribution

Volunteers distribute promotional leaflets to various locations around the area, including hotels, campsites, pubs and cafes, to raise the Railway’s profile and attract more visitors.

Communications

The communications function has at times combined with marketing and at times been a discrete function.

Communications Committee

A voluntary Communications Committee was appointed by the Guarantee Company in 2015, which does not report to the Marketing Manager. The key aims and objectives include "to develop communications to existing and prospective members through all media".

Communications Officer

A voluntary Communications Officer was appointed by SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) in August 2015, reporting to the Marketing Manager, "to improve the communications flow between different departments, looking at the quality of material and it distribution using appropriate media; for example an internet site or social media."[11] The role predominantly involved updating SVR Live, an official SVRSevern Valley Railway web site for members, shareholders and enthusiasts. This involved announcements and news items concerning matters like locomotive overhauls and infrastructure upgrades and news from various sources, including social media and SVRSevern Valley Railway-related websites. The position became vacant in October 2017, and was not advertised for replacement.

SVRSevern Valley Railway Charitable Trust

The Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Ltd employed its own Communications and PR manager who was separate from, but worked closely with, the SVRSevern Valley Railway's marketing and communications department. Lesley Carr moved to SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) in July 2020 (see above), when the role was advertised for replacement as a Fundraising Manager – Individual Giving.

External contractors and consultants

Severn Communications

Public Relations was until 2020 undertaken by an agency, Severn Communications Limited. The function moved to the Head of Communications.

Nexus Creative

Website design, website development and search engine optimisation are undertaken by Nexus Creative.

Notes

  1. In July 2020 Lesley Carr moved from the Charitable Trust to SVR(H) as Head of Communications, a new role which was previously covered by an external PR agency, Severn Communication (see below). From December 2020 the role included marketing.

See also

The Severn Valley Railway current organisation

References

  1. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 11
  2. 2.02.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 113
  3. 'Public face' of Severn Valley Railway dies, Kidderminster Shuttle, 2 August 2010 (Retrieved 16 September 2018)
  4. 'New faces in Severn Valley Railway’s management team', Shropshire Tourism website, 7 November 2012 (Retrieved 16 September 2018)
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 180
  6. Perfect day for railway line, Shropshire Star 21 March 2008
  7. Example of a 2011 SVR Press Release
  8. SVRLive
  9. Express Points Web Round-UpIn reference to the direction of travel means towards the major terminus (i.e. towards Kidderminster on the present day SVR), May 2011
  10. Helen Smith, NBINotice Board Issue. The SVR's on-line method of circulating information to working members.
  11. SVRSevern Valley Railway NBINotice Board Issue. The SVR's on-line method of circulating information to working members.

Links

Severn Communications Limited
Nexus Creative