The fanbase of the San Diego Chargers weren't in high spirits after their team's epic collapse versus Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, with many taking to Twitter and the team's official Facebook page to vent their frustration.
The Chargers' response: ‘Take a chill pill”. Bill Johnston, Director of Public Relations for the Chargers, took to the team's website and published this article. Starting his piece with an accusatory, “What's with you people?” rhetorical question, Johnston goes on to describe Twitter as a faux-tough guy tool, saying, “Sometimes I think Twitter was invented to give people a chance to puff out their chests and talk big, saying things they never would say to someone’s face”.
While some of the vitriol spewed at the players and franchise across social media might hit a nerve, Johnston's response is almost a perfect “what not to do” example of communication between franchise and fans.
The article went crazy on social media, with many people tweeting the link, while media outlets Yahoo!, USA Today and the NFL's Gregg Rosenthal weighed in on the story. Probably a lesson for others in similar positions to not take their frustrations out on fans.
Frank: Grandstand Breakfast welcomes Sean Callanan from Sports Geek HQ to talk Digital Sports. Good day Sean, how are you mate?
Sean: Good thanks Frank:, yourself?
Frank Not too bad. Now LinkedIn, it’s everywhere but how do you use it? I get requested all the time to be LinkedIn with people and I’m still working out the best way to do it. And for sports clubs looking for connections and to build I guess this critical mass of people that they can work with and just share knowledge and IP, all that sort of stuff. It must be really useful if you get it right?
Sean: Yeah. I’ll give you a bit of background to what is LinkedIn, it’s effectively a professional social network. Scott Kilmartin from Haul actually describes it as ‘Facebook for suits’, so if you take that sort of tact it’s a professional network to grow a way for you to profile you as a professional person.
Frank: So it’s like a new kind of digital CV for you?
Sean: It is, it’s got an IT background and I’ve got an IT background. I’ve been on LinkedIn for six or seven years now and so I’ve stopped creating a resume because LinkedIn had everywhere I’ve worked, who I worked with, what I did in those roles, what kind of skills I have. And I thought ‘Why do I have to keep updating this Word document to send it out?’, if you got to my LinkedIn page you see everything. So from that point of view, it’s great from a professional development point of view and if you want to be looking for your next job it’s a great place. But also for business development and getting yourself new business and that’s what sport’s always doing, it’s looking for new sponsors or sometimes new owners, or trying to find the right people to recruit. LinkedIn is really valuable in that sense of if you are looking for a sponsorship deal in some manner, rather than just hitting up people cold, you can get some really decisive research into who you should be calling but, more importantly, who you might be connected to that actually knows them. So rather than hitting them up directly and saying ‘We’ve got this sponsorship proposal’, ‘A friend of mine knows you…’, you can call them and you can say ‘What’s this guy like? Can you do an introduction?’ and start a conversation that way.
So LinkedIn is growing rapidly, it’s now at 3 million people in Australia and there’s over 100 million people worldwide, because it’s just professional. If we looked at the demographic for Facebook there are obviously kids on Facebook and stuff that are dominating all the likes and the engagement and there’s people who are interested but who aren’t in the workforce anymore. But LinkedIn is pretty much the workforce.
Frank: How best to curate it though because you get maybe requests from people you don’t know or you don’t have a lot of information about, and if you just click yes to everything you find yourself with a whole bunch of people that just mean nothing to you?
Sean: Yeah. There is that, there’s three ways to look at LinkedIn. There’s your own professional point of view so you connect with people that are of interest. Then there’s the professional point of view that this might help me in my work career or the business that I’m working in. And then the other side of it – and LinkedIn is trying to move into and they have over the last 18 months – is into a company focus side of things. So if someone looks up your company there will be a company page, so in the same way that Facebook has fan pages, LinkedIn now has personal profile pages. Which are getting a bit of an upgrade lately – starting to look a little bit Facebooky – but they’re also creating these company pages. I actually had a call from one of my clients saying ‘What do we need to do on this company page? Do we put up the same stuff on that we put up on Facebook?’ and it’s like no it’s a completely different market. But what you should be putting on is ‘We launched our membership campaign’ or ‘We’ve got some sponsorship options, there’s some great event hospitality.’ So with that company page you effectively create this pseudo corporate brochure of ‘Here are the options that are available for you at our team’, but also ‘Here are the actual people who will contact you and sell to you about it.’ So those corporate sales execs need to make sure that their LinkedIn profile and everything is all looking nice.
Frank: They can probably be more efficient, no broad acre I guess sprooking to just everybody
hoping that you’ll land somebody that’s interested, but then you can target more specifically people at your sports organisation that might actually be able to make a contribution|.
Sean: Yeah exactly, if you were going to approach someone in the LinkedIn environment it allows you to come back to that company page and you say ‘There’s all the options’. And again you’ve got this idea of recommendations so people can recommend you as a person, but they can also recommend you as a company or service.
Frank: Or endorse you and say ‘Yes, what Frank: says he does is actually true.’
Sean: Exactly, it gives you a bit of that social proof and helps everything go around. It’s still getting refitted out with a bit more news and stuff, the idea is that you can share your professional life or your professional stories as far as ‘This is what we’re doing in business’ or ‘We’re launching a new campaign’, so people start seeing that story coming through and you give them a bit of insight into what’s happening behind the scenes.
Frank: I better get out there and clean up my LinkedIn.
Sean: Clean up your LinkedIn, connect with everybody. I’ve got a bunch of guys in the States at the moment – Matt from The Eagles, Dan from The Storm, Jess from The Bulldogs, Dave from The Crows – they’ve all copied the old Sports Geek trip and we’ve set up a lot of meetings about that via LinkedIn, connecting with people. Hopefully they manage to catch up with Brad Mayne who was the American Airlines centre and got me into the Dallas Mavericks Lakers game, but now he’s the CEO of the MetLife Stadium which is where The Giants and The Jets play.
Frank: That’s how those connections are made.
Sean: I’m connected with Brad on LinkedIn, I’ve made the introduction and that’s how you can do this professional networking. And LinkedIn is the place to do it.
Frank: Now how not to do it comes from Bill Johnson, director of public relations at The Chargers in the NFL. Please explain this fantastic letter that you’ve shown me this morning.
Sean: So if you go to chargers.com, Bill Johnson – the director of PR – has written a piece called ‘Take a Chill pill’.
Frank: And it starts, people – and this is after The Chargers lost a game – ‘What’s with you people?’ and that’s the opening line and it goes from there, Sean, read a bit of it for us.
Sean: ‘Yes, Monday’s loss was bad, horrible, embarrassing. Now get over it, it was a loss, one loss’ and the line I like ‘Sometimes I think Twitter was invented to give people a chance to puff out their chests and talk big, saying things they’d never say to someone’s face.’
Frank: And then talk radio, don’t get me started. So this is the head of PR for The Chargers, on the official website… [Laughs]
Sean: He’s just a little bit upset at the fan feedback that’s coming back after a loss. In my position we’re lucky enough to see the good and bad of sports, and it’s great when you see The Melbourne Storm win and all the positive stuff. But you do have teams having bad seasons and it’s very hard to take it, but you really have to restrain yourself from having a crack at the fans as Bill’s done here. He’s gone down this path of – and this has gone a little bit viral – we’ve seen some accounts of replies to fans by DMs or telling them to shut up. You really just can’t, especially when they’re at their most vulnerable, they’re just showing their passion for your team and they’re upset. Next week before the game they’ll be up and ready to go again so you don’t want to be bashing your fans. As much as you want to, I accept angry texts all the time from my clients saying ‘I want to do this’, it’s like no, I tell him ‘Take a chill pill.’ So I think what Bill should do is he should take his own advice and he should take a chill pill himself.
Frank: Good on you, Sean. Sean Callanan from The Sports Geek HQ with us here on Grandstand Breakfast talking to us about sport in the digital space.