You won’t have failed to notice that as of the weekend: football is back. When Man United kicked-off against Spurs on Saturday lunchtime (sorry Spurs fans), it marked the end of the pre-season slog.
For football clubs, pre-season is a difficult time. It’s a time for preparation and training, scouting new players and developing new strategies. In the modern game, teams go to phenomenal lengths to gain an advantage. Swansea has gone as far as installing an inflatable hotel at the training ground for their players (and maybe it’s worked....at least against Chelsea).
But with all the preparation in the world, when match week one arrives, the clubs are stepping into the unknown. Until the season really gets underway, they won’t know whether all their planning will work.
There’s more than a few parallels here with planning communications campaigns. As communicators, the pressure is on to deliver and meet communications objectives. Whatever the brief, past lessons can be drawn on and previously successful strategies can be adapted. But, if we want a campaign to really stand out, it will need something novel, creative and often untested at its core. So, like Brendan Rodgers stepping out against Stoke on Sunday, we’re putting our untried ideas to the test.
And what if they don’t work? Brendan? The best football managers rethink when experiencing difficult starts to the season. They don’t ship in new players; they tweak the existing system, making subtle changes until it clicks and success is found.
We’d do well to remember this as PR consultants. We have all created campaigns at some point in our careers that haven’t immediately achieved the desired KPIs. Even the best planned and most creative plans on paper can get off to a faltering start – ask Arsene Wenger! The important thing is to not panic, subbing out the entire strategy at the earliest opportunity. Instead, fine tune the tactics until you find that recipe for success.
And if we don’t adapt, refine and improve? There’s the chance that our services will no longer be required for the Christmas transfer window.
Mark Cooper is a director at Camargue