The breakdown of five Eurostar trains in the Channel Tunnel on Friday evening showed how a slow-moving business’s public relations machinery can be undermined by interactive social media, according to BusinessZone.co.uk editor Dan Martin.
While the company and its employees struggled to grasp what was happening on trains that were marooned without water or electricity and limited toilet facilities, passengers and those waiting for them to arrive in London posted their views on Twitter.
“Shocked at how unprepared and uncommunicative Eurostar was. Eurostar failed to communicate with passengers and social media told the truth and got it to mainstream media fast,” wrote Colette Ballou, a passenger stranded on one of the trains.
“It was at this point that a PR crisis management plan which fully embraced social media should have sprung into action. It didn't,” noted the BusinessZone.co.uk editor in a detailed blog post on the situation.
Eurostar's social media initiatives are based around its Littlebreakbigdifference.com marketing website and someone else has hijacked the @Eurostar_Uk Twitter account (no longer active). Updates on Channel Tunnel services are now being posted through the train operator’s @little_break Twitter account amd the company’s managing director and commercial director have both posted YouTube videos to apologise for Friday’s incident and to brief viewers on the latest developments.
“The way customers engage with businesses has changed and any business - no matter how big or small - needs to accept that,” commented Martin.