What does football's 'transfer deadline day' mean for PR?

Any proper football supporter knows when transfer deadline day is. We spend the summer taking a deep breath before the plunge and yet the water always seems to shock us.

APCO's Anthony DeAngelo: Democratisation of information is a double-edged sword
APCO's Anthony DeAngelo: Democratisation of information is a double-edged sword

The flurry of activity on social media, the frantic reports from outside the training grounds, the hope and despair riding on every comment from those ‘in the know’ all converge to not only produce one of the most exciting days in media, but a glimpse into the future of media relations itself.

Today’s news cycle is not 24 hours or even 12 hours; it's 140 characters. The power of a tweet on deadline day is amplified because at the stroke of midnight, there is no tomorrow for teams to buy and sell. Twitter has become the central marketplace for wild speculation and actual breaking news, even shaping the way outlets such as The Guardian and BBC showcase the latest news by offering a ‘Twitter-like’ feed on their football homepage.

Teams also see Twitter as their primary direct outlet to supporters. For example, Spurs have gone so far as to produce a video announcing the signing of a long-expected player by showcasing tweets from anxious Spurs supporters demanding he be announced.

This interaction goes beyond pubs in London, Liverpool, or Lisbon. Football is a truly global game with a local focus, which means that nail-biting supporters are reading every piece of news they can get their hands on in fan sites from New York to New Delhi about events in Madrid and Munich.

So what does this mean for the other 364 days of the year (let’s face it, the January window isn’t as fun)? What can corporate chief commercial officers and chief marketing officers learn from football managers?

First and foremost, the once steady stream of news consumed is now a raging river. It’s a white water rapid that can pick anything up and in a matter of moments turn it on its head. This means we have less control over where a story goes and less time to ride the waves forward.

It means nearly every story is global, but we can never forget the local impact. Whether you are launching a brand or announcing a new signing, our audiences are more diverse, and like Spurs supporters, more demanding than ever.

Finally, deadline day is a reminder that the democratisation of information is a double-edged sword, and one that every communicator must wield and be wary of. False rumours may be the lifeblood of football transfer banter, but they can be poison if left unchecked by businesses and other public organisations.

There are no ‘international breaks’ in business. There’s no off-season in the real world. Every day is a race against the clock, and a chance to strengthen your ‘team’ the way the pros do.

Anthony DeAngelo is media relations manager, global marketing and communication, at APCO Worldwide

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