FA scores PR and comms success with England
Posted By Emma
As a self-confessed football fan, I’m rather partial to a bit of the World Cup. There’s nothing quite like it: that sense of anticipation; the inevitable abject failure; the emotion of ‘I should’ve known better than to hope that maybe this time it would be different’!
Despite knowing how it’s going to play out, I can’t help but get caught up in the excitement that the tournament brings (I appreciate that not everyone feels the same, particularly when my sister sends me a picture of her football antidote – a stack of ironing!). For me though, it’s hard not to get excited. Every which way you turn there are documentaries on past winners, managers, goals, anthems – the media loves to finely dissect the World Cup into its constituent parts. All of this is even before a ball has been kicked, then you get four games a day at peak times, woven in the subplots above.
On the day that England makes its bow at the tournament, I’m sat here wondering whether this year is going to be different – I know; blind hope and everything… But, despite having heard ‘Three Lions’ at least four times today (there’s no denying the media dissection is in full swing to the soundtrack of Baddiel and Skinner), the mood surrounding the England camp seems to be much more muted – surprisingly so. With not a single WAG in sight and no tabloid reports of late night drinking and debauchery, the FA’s PR machine is ticking along perfectly, projecting a youthful team that is united, relaxed and confident ahead of their opening match against Tunisia tonight.
I use the word PR very deliberately because the build-up to this tournament, unlike others, has been extremely measured and well-orchestrated. You get the sense that the man behind the players, Gareth Southgate, has had a real influence in the statement making, the social media content, player videos, the messaging, the press conferences and the general calmness and contentment that seem to be enveloping the team. Usually at this stage of the competition – first hurdle not even down – we’ve got one hand on the Jules Rimet trophy! The media can’t help themselves – we can’t help ourselves – we love hype, more hype and then an extra dollop of hype. It’s taken a gigantic PR effort, therefore, to change the mood. Southgate is a personality far removed from some of his predecessors. There are no Sunday broadsheet stings, no affairs with blonde television presenters, no controversy over religious views, and few question marks over his team selection and tactics – yet.
His personality and ethos not only seem to resonate with the team, but it seems to be intrinsic to the FA’s communication strategy and the media’s response to it.
If we win tonight, I’m sure that trophy will be back in England’s glass cabinet but, for now, Southgate and the FA are doing a mighty fine PR job not seen in previous years.