BCFC Board: PR and Communication

An accusation that has been levelled oft times at the respective boards of Birmingham City and Birmingham International Holdings has been a lack of communication towards the fans of the club. Since he has been involved Panos Pavlakis has been the face of the board and the task of talking to the fans has fallen on him.

Birmingham City FC

Judging by the replies to his latest tweet, Panos isn’t as popular as he once was.

The replies to him show the strength of feeling from some fans that persists since the removal of Gary Rowett from the managerial role. A tweet that in some quarters might be viewed as being a positive PR message has been seen by others as a dig at the former manager – something that’s a bit off bearing in mind the team haven’t won since his removal.

I ran a quick poll using my personal account last night to try to gauge how people felt about Panos tweeting. The result was almost evenly split, with “keep on tweeting” marginally winning.

This result would tend to confirm a couple of things that I believe are true.

The first is that the Blues board – and Panos in particular – are failing at the whole PR/Communication thing.

Public Relations is about sending out positive messages to make people aware of who you are, what your brand is, what your vision is – in essence, the identity of your product. If half the replies to a PR message are scathing because your message is seen to be twisted, or a dig at something that has happened before then it’s hardly good public relations.

Communications between the club and the fans should be about sending a message about what is happening; keeping fans advised of how the club is looking to progress and meet new challenges. Again, bearing in mind how ambiguous this message is it hardly meets that criterion either; the fact Panos has sent a total of five tweets since Rowett has been sacked shows that there isn’t much communication going on.

I don’t believe Twitter (or Facebook, where Panos has met probably even more outrage) are the right tools for this. At this moment in time the wounds are still seemingly raw and I believe that pithy 140 character statements are not quite the right medium to communicate a message to salve those wounds.

I also think a common problem is one of confirmation bias. This is true not just of Blues fans or even of football fans, but in all walks of life. Confirmation bias is where people will only believe things they are told that they want to believe.

I know I suffer it myself if I’m not careful. There have been occasions where I’ll read an article and think it’s incredibly intelligent because it backs up everything I believe – and there’s been times where I’ll dismiss something as rumours and hearsay because it is contrary to my opinion. Without balance and an opposite viewpoint life becomes an echo chamber, which hardly improves knowledge of any subject.

Confirmation bias can become a problem. If everyone reacts negatively then the messages from the club will become even more anodyne and even less actual communication. Do we want a situation whereby even in the worst pits of despair, we’re told everything is fine like some sort of “Comical Ali” figure?

Everything is fine at Birmingham City. Yes sir.

I certainly don’t.

I think the important thing to take from this is that I’m not saying we shouldn’t be critical – far from it. However, as I’ve said many times on social media and forums I think we need to be critical for the right reasons. Rather than blindly lashing out in rage (which is going to result in being muted/blocked/defriended anyway on social media), let’s put the right questions to the powers that be and force them to give us answers.

Communication is a two way street after all.

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