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Horseman Coaches- Confronting a Covid Crisis

Friday 31st January 2020, 21:00. James Horseman, Managing Director at Horseman Coaches, called Jargon PR. A front page Daily Mail article several hours earlier had shown drivers from Horseman Coaches not wearing Personal Protective Equipment while driving 83 repatriated Britons, who recently landed from Wuhan Province, due to COVID-19, to RAF Brize Norton. Officials from Public Health England, also on the coaches, were wearing full Personal Protective Equipment. In less than a day, Horseman Coaches had lost over 50% of its retained client base, largely made up of Public and Private Schools, due to fears over health and safety.

PROJECTS
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//Horseman Coaches – Confronting a Covid Crisis

Background

Horseman Coaches are the leading private coach hire company operating throughout several Berkshire towns, carrying 9,000 individuals each day. The brand has been offering the very best in private luxury coach travel for 40 years and was named ‘UK Coach Operator of the Year’ in 2019.
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Horseman Coaches - Confronting a Covid Crisis

Category : Travel
  • Duration : One Week
  • Client : Horseman Coaches
  • Sector : Travel
  • Region : UK
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Objectives:

- Stop the negative media publicity surrounding Horseman Coaches through telling the true story.
- Calm the public panic from parents and schools whose children travel on Horseman Coaches.
- Tell the Horseman Coaches story and promote the company's values.

Services Used

- Content Creation
- Media Relations
- Social Media
- Reputation Management
- PR Consultation

Strategy and Execution

Clear, concise and consistent communication was going to be the key to a successful campaign. Jargon PR began by defining the exact messaging it wished to communicate:
- Driver Safety: Public Health England told Horseman Coach Drivers not to wear PPE for driving safety reasons
- Driver Welfare: Drivers involved in the transportation would be at home in quarantine for two weeks with full sick pay and benefits following the transportation
- Risk of Infection: The repatriated Brits were health checked before, during and after their flight from China. None of them had exhibited any signs of infection.
- State & Private Schools: There was no disruption to the usual service. Coaches used in this scenario were not used for school trips.
- Coaches: All coaches used were being cleaned to a military grade standard. They were cleaner than when they came off the production line.

Results

- 80% were either Positive or Neutral towards Horseman Coaches.
- The Exclusive with the Sunday Times set a clear and focussed tone hanging the narrative towards Horseman from implied negligence, towards being a hero.
- Liaising with Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer to secure content & quotes validating Horseman Coaches’ position, to add an official voice to the story.
- Daily communication with existing customers set a reassured and positive tone that was warmly welcomed.
- Drivers were seen as a ‘source of knowledge and insight’ rather than a ‘potential danger’ while driving children to schools throughout Berkshire.

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