When staff magazine Network launched in 2014, it had a difficult challenge. Just 40 per cent of Network Rail employees viewed its predecessor as a trusted source of information, while fewer than one in five said it helped them understand their role.
It is vital that Network is viewed as trusted source of information, which means that it does not shy from difficult subjects or failings in the business. Poor working practices are addressed as learning exercises, driving advocacy and trust.
Working with a beetroot designer and editor, three members of Network Rail’s internal communications team work with their colleagues across the business to tackle different subjects and shine a light on issues that are important to them.
The editorial strategy is clear. Each cover must be high impact and engaging. Technical language and jargon are not permitted. Features must be balanced and honest, including the voice of the passenger where possible. And content must align with strategic themes based on the company’s priorities.
The latest business strategy is focused on safety, ensuring employees are proud to work for Network Rail, the company’s dependability and also emphasising its leading role in the rail industry. Recent articles underlying this focus include an interview with technician Christopher Brookes about the support he received after witnessing a passenger suicide, highlighting the launch of a new mental health toolkit.
There are features about employees enjoying flexible working or shared parental leave, following passengers on their journeys to find out any challenges and ways to keep customers informed of potential disruptions. Remembering Clapham is honest about errors that were the cause of the train disaster in 1988 creeping back into everyday practices.
More than 10,000 copies of Network are printed, while a digital version is viewed on average, more than 6,300 times with an average read time of 4.25 minutes. An annual survey found that 82.7 per cent of respondents read most or all issues, up four percentage points on the previous year, while 63 per cent agree Network reports on the issues that matter to front line staff, its key audience. And 61per cent believe it tackles difficult or negative subjects while 63 per cent view the publication as trustworthy and honest.
The judges felt Network is a magazine that understands its audience. ‘It has good stories, a nice layout and an engaging tone,’ they said. ‘The fact that its themes are built around Network Rail’s business strategy is also impressive.’