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Friday, 27 April 2012

Q&A with Bristol City's Head of Media

For the penultimate On the Social of the season - for the West Ham game on April 17th - I welcomed Bristol City's Head of Media, Adam Baker (@Bean_Head), to the pages.  As one of the club’s key communicators the ever-growing role of social media has a constant impact on how the media team goes about their job, so I found out more:

How has the ever-growing influence of Twitter affected the job of the media team?
I think similarly to the times when internet forums came on the scene, it’s something we have to be aware of and monitor as best we can. That doesn’t mean sitting on Twitter 24/7, but equally if something’s happening it needs covering. Twitter is a great source of news, and therefore is somebody is reporting something about the club then it’s our job to be alert to that.  It’s often on Twitter where stories are broken these days, ahead of papers and websites.

Could (and should) the club be doing more to embrace this new world?
I think we were slow starters in social media terms, both on Twitter and Facebook, and it takes time to build things up. We’re always looking at new ways to engage with fans and social media is essential as part of that. We’re beginning to bring a more behind-the-scenes kind of look at the club via Twitter recently, and part of our season ticket campaign for 2012/13 is driven by comments (memories) posted by supporters on our Facebook page.

In your experience, how do you think City rank against other clubs in terms of using this approach?
I think as staff we’re very proactive on it. A large proportion of the club’s off-field staff are on Twitter and Facebook, and several players too. Whilst in years gone by fans will have waited for SMS alerts or a website posting to confirm/break news, I believe now a tweet or Facebook post is just as eagerly waited and recognised. Personally I think we interact well, but I’d welcome feedback.

Have you had formal media/social training and do you think anyone needs it?
Not as such but to be honest it’s a learning curve for everyone in a evolving industry (social media). We have a social media policy at the club which all staff members – including players – must adhere and that is in place to ensure the club isn’t harmed in any way.

What's the best thing about Twitter in your view?
The interaction and speed at which news travels because of it. When it comes to major breaking news, there’s nothing really to rival it.

There are other clubs whose Chairman or Chief Executive use Twitter extensively, answering fans questions or commenting on matches, performances and even referee performances!  Is this something you discuss with the likes of Colin or Guy in terms of getting them (more) involved?
Guy is on Twitter (@GuyRPrice) and does take a very keen watching brief. Whether he wants to dip his toe into the water more is a question for him, but given the busy nature of his job I think it would be difficult. With regards to Colin, I’d say it’s unlikely!

There are an increasing number of footballers on Twitter, not without controversy.  Do you think they will still be allowed to tweet in two or three years?
Yes I do. As long as players understand a tweet is, in effect, the same as answering a question to a journalist then it’s ok in my view. The simple rule is, if you wouldn’t say it to a newspaper journalist or live on Sky Sports, don’t tweet it! That’s why we have a social media policy in place. But everyone deserves freedom of speech – within reason!

Who are your favourite football-related follows, inside & outside of the club?
I enjoy following the national journalists, plus the likes of Sky Sports and BBC for breaking news. For clear passion, @JonStead9 is a firm favourite with supporters and I understand why. I also enjoy our design manager @Ed_Furniss’ eclectic collection of tweets.

Can City fans expect anything new and exciting on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any other new social media site?
We’ll certainly be sitting down in the summer to see if there are areas we can improve. I’m sure there are and I’d welcome any feedback.

And finally, have you ever been tempted to reply when someone tweets you criticising the players, the manager or asking for inside information on transfers?  I do wonder whether people actually expect a response or not!
Ha ha! Well I try and respond to all reasonable questions and queries wherever possible. Clearly I’m not going to give top secrets away or slate people. There aren’t too many abusive tweets, honest!

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