Saturday 5 February 2011

Communicator of the week

Even if you're not a football fan, stick with me on this one as this week could have turned out to be a shocker for the owner of Liverpool Football Club. Instead I make John W Henry my communicator of the week with lessons for anyone in a crisis situation in business or politics.

At the end of last week Fernando Torres, Liverpool's iconic striker and hero of The Kop requested a transfer. He could have left and, by so doing, weakened the team, denting the morale of the club's supporters. Instead John W Henry, the billionaire American owner who also owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, acted with speed making transfer funds available immediately to strengthen the team. Two new strikers were bought with one of them scoring on his debut on Wednesday. Crisis contained.

This has been followed up with positive words as yesterday Mr Henry gave an interview and talked specifically about the club's ground saying, "The Kop is unrivalled. We were surprised at how beautiful Anfield was, it would be hard to replicate it anywhere else."

He followed this up with saying that Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool's interim manager known affectionately by the fans as 'King Kenny' was in the running to take over the job permanently. Crisis averted.  

This all may seem relatively simple stuff but will do a power of good in getting the fans on side so they keep supporting the team and spending money to help fund future purchases. It is also far removed from the level of communication seen from Liverpool's previous owners who never managed to show sufficient respect for the club's history.

Furthermore the owners have now set up  a formal link between fans and the club's board amongst other positive ways of engaging with supporters. A few months ago I was asked to write a strategy paper for a foreign owner of a Premiership football club; to suggest ways they could engage with their fans better. I'm glad some of these ideas are now being enacted at Liverpool and makes John W Henry my communicator of the week.

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