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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 40 - Spring 1980

Publicity - My First Year - Tony Lyster

Looking back on 1979- my first year as your Publicity Officer - it seems to have been busy, but very enjoyable. I learnt a lot about how publicity ticks, what and what not to say to the press and what they can do to a typed press release. I am a horticulturalist and as such have never had any experience with dealing with the press or public and so I have, inevitably, made some mistakes.

We all have our own ideas as to how each department should be run - not least me - so one of the first changes I made was to 're-name' us, in publicity material, as the Quainton Railway Centre, although from the sales departments point of view we merely fell in line, as their items have carried this name for several years now. The name, to my mind, implies something rather more active than a dusty, dingy, static museum - which we are not. However, I have not stopped using the descriptive term 'Working Railway Museum'. There are now only two items of publicity that carry the old name, supplies of which will run out within two years.

My next stop was to introduce press releases - starting with two, which were written in December 1978, to describe the road delivery of W64, now the refreshment coach, and two privately owned coaches. Since that first effort, I have sent out eight in 1979 and one in 1980 - with plans for at least one more before Easter. Press releases are usually timed to coincide with something - such as coach deliveries, the removal of the Lewisham footbridge, Schools steaming, the Quainton record and anything else possible. They are very cheap (18p each) and extremely effective, since local papers are always short of news to fill their pages. One tangible result was the centre spread article, with photos, in the Bicester Advertiser in July - probably the best time of year.

1979 seems to have been the year of the 'Article'. The first written, and the last published, was for the September issue of Railway Magazine - although the Editor, Mr. Slater, had hoped to print it in April. Articles also appeared in Bucks Countryside and a Rickmansworth local paper. Each dealt, basically, with a brief Society history, a run-down of some of the various features of the depot (and there are many) and our future aspirations - all about 1,500 words.

Newspaper adverts, which are our main source of advertising steam weekends, have, unfortunately, been very small this year, due to our old enemy - money. They have all carried the slogan '1969-1979: A Decade of Steam Preservation' and, from the end of May, a small Beattie outline. They will be larger this year. The slogan was also carried on all press releases and the big blue posters, which had a 'flash' stuck across one corner proclaiming our July and August steamings.

In 1979, the Executive Committee decided not to join the 'Steam Railways' leaflet produced by the Tourist Board - due to, among other things, its poor printing standards. Instead we produced our own leaflet (the yellow), professionally designed by a non-member who offered his services to the Society. He has amended the leaflet for us this year (the grey) and did a lot of work for Andrew's latest brainwave - the National Lottery, for which we are very grateful.

As I mentioned in an earlier issue of Quainton News, and at the AGM, one of the things that we need desperately is photos of Society activities. These can be used in vast quantities for new books, which are being regularly published, and by the Tourist Board, who answer an average of three enquiries a week, where photos of QRC could be used. It was with this particularly in mind that I ram the 1979 Photographic Competition (see the results elsewhere) with cash prizes. I was somewhat surprised to have only 33 entries from 10 entrants - and to find none of the Society's noted photographers among them. Another competition will be run this year - so why not enter? You could win prizes and we desperately need the photos. Come to think of it, why wait for the competition, why not send your photos to me now? The copyright legally remains yours and you will be credited - so you'll see your name in print. In similar rein, several slide lectures have been given by a number of members to fellow railway societies and other organisations. However, slides are again needed of our activities, both past and present, to illustrate adequately the many facets of QRC. Prints can also be made of slides.

1980 has already begun and so has my work. I have had 24,000 grey leaflets printed and 1,000 hanging cards in glorious technicolour by a certain well known Aylesbury printer - all carrying a colour postcard of QRC. These will supplement the much larger blue poster. If you should want any of these cards, they are ideal for work places, shops, cafes, etc. - so please ask.

As you sit here reading this intensely interesting article (!) on the adventures of your handsome and brilliant publicity officer and wondering how you can get in on the act too, I would tell you that you can. I want to start a chain of Area Publicity Officers whose job it would be to advertise QRC in their area by coordinating poster distribution and talking to the press. This is the sort of job that won't take up much time and can be done by those members who wish to do a bit more, but for some reason can't get to Quainton as often as they would like. It can be expanded to suit your time available, but need not take up much time at all, especially if you have assistants, say a few hours a month during Spring and Summer. This will relieve me of a great deal of work and leave me to concentrate on those things which must be done centrally, but could be expanded from their present levels. I am also looking for members who can help me with this, ideally we would have a different member in charge of press releases, Tourist Board correspondence and promotion, advertisements, etc. If you would like to help with this very interesting and rewarding job, much of which is done at home, then please contact me either at Quainton or at home - see back cover.

As I mentioned earlier, you may have ideas on how other departments should be run, and these comments and ideas I would like to hear about. I would also like to have constructive comments on what departments are doing and what should be said in our publications, leaflets, posters, etc. and your ideas of what we could or should do, however impossible your proposals may seem at present. Naturally, we can't implement all ideas - some are impossible or take time to arrange, but this is yet another way to assist us and help improve the image of the Society that the department is here to project to the 'outside world'.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1980 and so does not reflect events in the 34+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Publicity - My First Year - Tony Lyster - Quainton News No. 40 - Spring 1980

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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