Re: Norfolk Southern's "public relations" ???
Author: Ernest H. Robl
Date: 07-03-2008 - 11:44
Okay, as a journalist, I've dealt with the PR people of a number of railroads. For the most part, they are well informed and competent. Yes, many of them actually like railroads. I know of some that could be classified as railfans.
The PR staffs of most railroads are stretched extremely thin -- which means that most of their effort has to go to dealing with crisis situations. There's little time for establishing relationships with reporters or trying to educate reporters about railroad operations.
I've also seen the other side of PR. The bulk of my two years in the U.S. Army was spent in PR positions, both in the U.S. and in Vietnam.
Keep in mind that the bulk of the questions railroad PR people get from the media relate to legal issues and economics. The typical reporter for a newspaper or magazine is writing a story that focuses on these issues -- and does not care (much, if at all) about the equipment involved in these issues.
Yes, often the correct answer to a question is, "I don't know. I will try to find out for you." Obviously a railroad PR person is not going to know about every event happening on a railroad that stretches for thousands of miles.
But, terminology is often incorrect in many other areas. Take the recent incident in Israel where a terrorist/derranged person (I don't think it's clear yet which was the case) drove a piece of construction equipment into vehicles and pedestrians -- before being killed. Every report that I saw called this piece of equipment a "bulldozer." I'm not an expert on construction equipment, but from the footage that I saw, it was clear that this was a heavy-duty front-end loader, a wheeled vehicle -- not a bulldozer.