Well hello there readers. It’s been a year since I wrote a longer article for the website but as I explained last summer there is a cut off point online where people just stop reading. Or possibly just stop reading what I wrote. Hadn’t thought about that. Anyway, my more usual outlets through the season are in the Preview Show on iFollow or in the (award winning) matchday programme.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t get to read what I write though. Last season I would estimate that 90% of the content on this website came from me, as well as roughly 100% of the video content from the club. That’s fine and dandy and I never have a problem with providing content. However, I am also responsible for the PR side of the club and dealing with the local and national media, and last season was clearly a little tricky at times! Trust me, there are some stories which never came out which would make even my hair curl. Nobody’s fault and I honestly LOVED last season because you never stop learning and I found out so much about those around me and about myself. It’s a cliche but collectively we just got our heads down, stuck together and came through it a much better club for it.
It was only when the madness stopped for a few weeks this summer that I had any thinking time. We want to move the club forward but in many ways I felt I was holding it back. How do I deal with a winding up order when I am on the road to report on the under 18s away at Burnley or the under 23s at Peterborough (twice)? I had a long chat with a fan (Hi Sarge) earlier in the season where he asked why under 18 reports weren’t online til the Monday. It was mainly because I was at the first team game and then would TRY to get at least a couple of hours to see my family on a Sunday; coaches and video analysts with that age group need some downtime too so it was more logical to catch up on a Monday.
But he was right. This is 2019. Things need to be instant and things need to move forward. Back in 2014 a guy approached me at an Open Day and asked if he’d be able to get some experience in media. The boy came in and was polite and clever and knew the club. He asked me how to get into media. I told him to do his GCSEs, his A levels, go to college and study media but to keep volunteering and working wherever he could. Since then he has helped us with the (still award winning) programme, come in and helped in holidays, joint edited match programmes with me for other clubs and most recently been in a country I have never heard of to cover a tournament where he nearly died of heatstroke. It seems none of the media team possess a hat. Or much common sense.
I’m happy to announce that as of this week the young man in question, Liam Potter, joins the media and marketing team full time. Matt Everett will mentor Liam in marketing; contacting fans by email to drive campaigns forwards. I will help him in the dark arts of media, websites, video and PR. Kath Faulkner, who is outstanding just don’t tell her, will guide him on social media. And with Martin Brodetsky continuing to edit the match programme I think we have a brilliant little team there which addresses many of the issues we had last season: Liam will provide previews, reports and interviews on under 18s, under 23 and Women’s matches and also add some youthful energy to the media team.
Bear with us. We are a well oiled machine and Liam will be the sand that fills the gaps, which will take time to settle. Give it a month and like Mr Brodetsky’s wig you won’t be able to see the join.
The first difference you may spot is in the approach to video content. Last season I took a very deliberate decision to stick with the format we knew in iFollow. It was the first season where you could stream games in the UK (not Saturday 3pm) and I wanted reliable data and analytics on the effect that would have not just on our online figures but also on match attendance itself.
It has been fascinating to watch and there have been countless arguments between me and Mick Brown (don’t worry, that’s been going on for 20 years now) about whether to stream home games or whether we are reducing the crowd at matches while growing an online audience. I am not going to give you specifics but last season saw income from iFollow double the previous twelve months, and the infographic here from the EFL gives you a broad idea:
Without boring you too much (869 words is already pushing it) last season confirmed what I thought: people use iFollow for live matches: audio or video. The manager and player interviews are a bonus but not the main reason to subscribe. With that in mind we will now try and do a little more online video elsewhere: Manager interview in full in iFollow with a shorter version available on youtube and social. Having an extra person allows us to bring more video from more areas of the club as well.
Finally for this update a quick word on the programme. I played a part in five different club’s programmes last season and only the Oxford one increased its sales. A marginal increase, but definitely a step forward for the first time in 25 years. That was partly due to our home and away versions, an idea which other clubs will copy this season. The one criticism was that it punished collectors who had to buy two, (HAD is their word not mine!). Therefore we will offer a discount if people want to subscribe to both.
It’s still an important revenue stream for the club so the programme will continue, and I think the fact that Martin and I share the same view really shines through: we want the best programme in the division because we believe it shows a club that truly cares about its output and its fans.
But enough of this. Tomorrow the fixtures come out and the madness truly starts again. For those of you brave enough to have got to the bottom of this page just be aware that we have spent the summer plotting, planning and preparing.
We are ready. Are you?