Tag Archives: Liverpool FC

Liverpool’s Twitter presence goes global

We’re often told about the Premier League’s international appeal, usually when the staggering details of the next multi-billion pound TV deal are leaked to the press or the dreaded 39th game idea is floated for the umpteenth time, but social media has really brought home the allure of England’s top flight to those abroad. Check out the Facebook or Twitter accounts of any of the top clubs and you’ll see a large number of responses, many of which are from supporters based outside the UK.

Tough crowd, Rafa

They can’t boo from the stands, but they can sure leave nasty messages!

It may seem easy to ignore these supporters, after all they’re not able to boo from the stands if things aren’t going so well, but as more money flows into the game from abroad and teams decide to take their pre-season training camps to the USA, Asia and the Middle East communicating with this contingent of foreign fans takes on a new importance.

But is communicating with these supporters through your existing channels satisfactory when you take into considering the language barrier and other difficulties? Liverpool don’t seem to think so.

The past few weeks has seen several accounts created and verified simply to cater to Liverpool’s army of fans from across the globe. Supporters in Thailand, Indonesia, India, Spain, France and the Arab world will now get the latest club news in their language at a time suitable for them.

Liverpool are not the first to create foreign language social media profiles and I’m certain they will not be the last. For a fan-base that may occasionally feel unappreciated or disconnected from events that occur several thousand miles away this is a lifeline. For Liverpool it’s a fantastic way to solidify the allegiances of those Reds from far flung corners of the globe and gain access to an audience that will surely continue to grow.

Jen Chang’s threats are a PR own goal

On at least one occasion I’ve used this blog to prattle on about Liverpool FC’s brilliant use of social media. They, out of all of the Premier League clubs, seem to have understood what the medium is all about and more importantly what it was capable of.

‘perspiring journalist’ Duncan Jenkins

That’s why I was shocked to read the most recent post on the blog of fictional football journalist Duncan Jenkins. Jenkins, who is either a stunning take down of the growing crowd of wannabe football journalists that inhabit Twitter or a joke that got very boring very quickly depending on who you talk to (I’m in the latter camp), managed to call one or two of Liverpool’s incoming transfer deals on the back of existing press speculation. Given the litany of accounts which predict transfers, or at least try to, this was nothing unusual however the sheer popularity of the account meant Duncan’s predictions got much more coverage. This upset someone at Liverpool, namely their Director of Communications Jen Chang.

I’ll not go into detail about what happens next, however Mr Chang comes across like the lovechild of Magnum P.I. and Reggie Kray. Suffice to say the tale of what is essentially flat track bullying has spread across Twitter in double quick time, giving Liverpool yet another avoidable PR problem to deal with.

Can anyone give me odds on Jen Chang being told to “Walk on” by his bosses?

I would have thought that Liverpool would’ve been aware of the risks in making threats to any fan, let alone such a well followed individual. Chang’s decision to drop the threats probably resulted from the realisation that trying to destroy a man’s life because of a few hopeful punts on a parody Twitter account would eventually be more damaging to him than it would Jenkins. And he’d have been right.

The most disappointing element of this episode (and there are a few) from a public relations point of view is that the go to option to stop these supposed leaks was not conversation or mediation but to bully. It goes without saying that the role of PR should never be to threaten, no matter how red-faced an organisation is left. Is this reaction indicative of a club who have spent much of the last 12 months with their backs against the wall as they battle allegations of racism, poor on-pitch performance and not entirely unjustified jibes at their record in the transfer market? I’d say so, but that’s no excuse.

Furthermore proper public relations should save organisations time and money. The amount effort that went into compiling a dossier on Jenkins’ creator is dozens of times what it would’ve cost to develop an understanding through less nefarious, more conventional PR methods. The £300,000 extra that Roma bagged from the deal as a result of the tweets does not matter. Anyone could’ve posted a speculative tweet linking the club and player.

This doesn’t just mean bad PR for Liverpool either. It’s a story the communications industry could do without too. Granted it’s no Bell Pottinger and I expect coverage on conventional media will remain minimal but it doesn’t do us any favours.