Aloha Means Good-By at Amtrak.

Wow! The new guy at Amtrak isn’t wasting any time. A while back—maybe six weeks or so—it was announced that Voluntary Early Retirement was going to be offered to a large number of Amtrak employees. Of course it was assumed that there would likely be layoffs if enough people didn’t decide to leave voluntarily.
Today, I received a list of more than 330 names . . . folks who evidently saw the handwriting on the wall, or were nearing retirement age anyway, or who just figured “Screw it!” and decided to walk before they might have been pushed.
Departments affected include Administration, Commercial, Finance, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Information Technology and Operations.
Of particular interest (to me, anyway) was the fact that 31 of the names on that list came from the Marketing Department . . . begging the question: How many kept their jobs? And what are they going to be doing?
I assume that most of Amtrak’s paid advertising is farmed out to their advertising agency, FCB Global. But that leaves creation of all the printed materials and publications, facilitating Amtrak items in the social media, generating stories about Amtrak travel in magazine and newspapers, and on and on.
Marketing is important stuff. It helps keep your name and your story before the public. The vogue phrase is “top-of-mind-awareness” and it takes time and skill and money to achieve that. The problem is, it’s easy to lose it and that can happen almost before you know it. You gotta keep the pedal to the metal.
What concerns me is that the key executives involved in the actual day-to-day running of a business rarely have any real respect for marketing. They don’t understand it. They don’t know how or why it works. And when it does work, they think it’s because of the terrific job they’re doing.
It’s my impression that Amtrak’s new CEO, Richard Anderson, is a solid capable guy. I just hope he appreciates the value of marketing.


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