Social media training: Work experience teen's tweets create a PR triumph

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Work experience teen's tweets create a PR triumph

Would you put a work experience teen in charge of your corporate Twitter account?

How about if that account had 161,000 followers and was often dominated by tweets from disgruntled customers?

It certainly sounds like a brave move for someone with little workplace experience or social media training.

But the end result was surely far better than Southern Rail could have possible hoped for.

The teenager, known as Eddie, took over the beleaguered train company’s @SouthernRailUK handle yesterday afternoon (11/7).

And his performance won it some new fans, a trending hashtag, some much needed positive media coverage and overall has to go down as a PR triumph.

Here are a few headlines:

Work experience teen takes over Southern Rail’s Twitter BBC News

Work experience boy runs Southern Rail’s Twitter account Sky News

Work experience boy Eddie takes over Southern Rail’s Twitter feed with hilarious and sweet results Evening Standard

It was surely with some trepidation that Eddie announced at 2pm, through a tweet which was retweeted 1,235 times, that he was ‘ready to answer your questions’.



But instead of the usual feed dominated by frustrated commuters – Southern has apologised to customers more than 11,000 times this year according to the website Sorry for the inconvenience – Eddie found himself responding to a series or bizarre and random non-train related questions.

Subjects included the football team he supports and his GCSEs, to what various passengers should have for dinner and the more ridiculous, yet amusing, ‘would you rather fight a horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?’.





Yet he remained unfazed even when faced with a question about whether Southern will be meeting with Aslef to resolve the overtime ban.



Arguably his best moment came when answering a tweet about whether a boy would ever be able to swim faster than a shark. Eddie responded with ‘I don’t think so but you never know there could be a girl that can’.



During the successful session Eddie was offered more work experience at ScotRail, while Southern was encouraged to give him a permanent role by the British Transport Police account.

Passengers were also quick to send their praise and a spokesperson for the company was quoted in the media saying they were ‘thrilled he has won over so many of our customers this afternoon’.




To be clear, it was evident a member of Southern’s social media team was on hand to occasionally help with some of the trickier questions and steer the conversation when questions were not suitable for a teenage boy to answer.

But overall, what on the face of it seemed like a huge gamble destined to hit the buffers, turned into an unprecedented success for Southern, thanks to Eddie's abundant enthusiasm, humour and good nature.

It will be interesting to see whether this success continues, and passengers remain as patient, when he returns to the controls later today.



Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 30 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers. 

Click here to find out more about our journalist led social media training courses.


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