AB Thinks  →  18th September 2018

Impactful journalism

AB Thinks

We picked up not one but two awards for our work with Transport for London (TfL) at this year’s Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) Awards – Best News Magazine and Best Writing.

AB has worked with TfL for more than ten years and took the reins of otm in 2016. The printed monthly magazine informs 14,500 dispersed, hard-to-reach employees, including train drivers, track and train maintenance crews and customer service staff, all of whom have little access to digital channels.


For more than 25 years, otm has played a vital role in communicating to frontline employees and we’re proud to say that it continues to hit the mark.

We’re particularly thrilled with the IoIC accolades as it’s been a challenging couple of years for TfL. The organisation began a substantial transformation programme in response to major cuts to its operational budget, meaning far-reaching changes are being made right across the business. Some TfL employees are excited about the future, but for many, change means uncertainty.

otm plays an important role in giving context and meaning to the organisation’s challenges and changes – modernising, boosting capacity and managing a £700m per year reduction in its Government subsidy. The magazine needs to keep people informed about all aspects of operational performance while reflecting the diversity of the workforce and the jobs they do.

Trusted source

With so much change across TfL, it was important otm remained a trusted source of information and helped readers feel confident and motivated about their own journey through transformation.

We focused our editorial strategy and design on instilling pride and helping employees understand TfL’s vision and direction ­– making it clear how their work contributes to the organisation’s success and celebrating those who go the extra mile for colleagues and customers.

With so much to communicate, we decided to theme each issue, creating a strategic focus for each edition while also sparking greater creativity. Each theme allows us to bring to life related stories from across the organisation.

Inspiring stories

In March we chose to celebrate International Women’s Day, telling a series of empowering stories about the women who work for TfL – stories that might otherwise have gone untold.

“TfL is full of interesting people doing fascinating and inspiring things,” says otm editor Freddie Reynolds. “Frankly, we’re spoiled for choice when we start to think about what stories we could cover in each issue.

“This issue was no different. International Women’s Day is about celebrating the social, political, economic and cultural achievements of women. How better to do that than through the inspiring stories of the women at TfL who may have been shut out of their jobs twenty years ago and today are leading the way for others in a traditionally male-dominated industry.”

This issue earned us our Award of Excellence for Best Writing, with the judges commenting: “Overall this is a really strong piece of journalism, which is well targeted, thoughtful and designed to inspire TfL’s workforce.”

The issue included a number of stand-out profile pieces, including one about a female apprentice at the start of her career and another about how mum of two and Night Tube train operator Becca Nevin had found a better work-life balance.

Other stories about women working in traditionally male-dominated parts of the organisation, and a Q&A with three female heads of line operations, further emphasised the important message that TfL is committed to equal opportunities for all.

A positive image was a must for the cover. A portrait of Taiwo Coker, representative of the Women’s Staff Network Group, set the right tone for the whole issue.

The result was a strong and engaging issue, which continued to make otm relevant, real and rewarding.

Reader research

In April 2018, our researchers conducted telephone interviews with a diverse cross-section of 50 employees, the majority working on the frontline. The findings showed:

  • 80 per cent of employees strongly agree with the statement: “I trust what I read in otm
  • 84 per cent strongly agree otm “makes me feel proud to work for LU”
  • and 54 per cent strongly agree otm “helps me understand the vision and direction of LU”

The IoIC judges said: The magazine has impact and the wealth of people stories demonstrating the make-up and variety of the organisation makes it a really interesting read.”

Find out more

For more information or to find out how we can help with your communication needs contact account manager Janice on janice.fitzgerald@abcomm.co.uk