The song, “You’ll never walk alone” is not only the anthem of Liverpool FC, it’s meaning has also defined the club, which is now easily one of the world’s most spectacular soccer squads. Liverpool has just won the 2022 English Emirates FA Cup in dramatic fashion and the club has its eyes on both the Premier League and European Cup.
Beyond football, Liverpool also has a well-oiled public relations and marketing machine, as outlined by Matt Scammell, the Club’s commercial director.
Here are some valuable PR lessons brands and agencies can learn from Liverpool football club:
- Deliver on your core value proposition
A brand must deliver on its core purpose, in order to be adored by its target audience. The purpose of football is to entertain, and Liverpool knows fully well that this is its core value proposition.
Matt Scammell said, the best way to grow your fan base around the world is by playing entertaining and engaging football that people want to watch. It seems like a cliché but it’s true. If you play entertaining football, the fans will follow.
- Authenticity should be non-negotiable
Liverpool is a strong believer in being authentic and it reflects in their partnerships and marketing.
The Commercial Director said: Liverpool FC is strongly committed to doing things very authentically. “A great example is a partnership that we just entered with SC Johnson. It was aligned with our beliefs on sustainability and thinking about the planet. We also have a program called ‘The Red Way’ which aligns with the thought of doing things more sustainably. We also showcase authenticity in our interactions with our fans. We want to be close to them and we see them as the heart of our club. We want to do things that demonstrate the value of the global fandom we enjoy.”
- Continuous pursuit of success and excellence
Liverpool is mindful of Bill Gate’s lesson that “success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
For Liverpool, “It does matter to be successful, however, appealing to partners is a blend of many factors. It’s about a blend of success, having a high-quality team with skills, and playing an exciting brand of football that engages viewers”.
The history as well is massively important. Even before we won the UEFA Champions League two years ago, we were the most successful English team in Europe. It’s great that we are continuing to build the trophy cabinet, but we have a strong supporter base on the back of earlier successes and the exciting football we play.
“So success is an important factor, but it’s not the only thing.”
- Resilience helps strong brands survive hard times
When the going gets tough, tough brands keep going. During Covid 19, many businesses around the world lost huge revenues and even artists and comedians in Nigeria felt the punch.
About resilience, Liverpool explained: “With regards to the sponsorship community, our partners have been incredibly resilient. If we look at the last year, we have signed on several new partnerships, even though we had the underlined challenge of the pandemic going on.
“Commercially, we are now more successful than we have ever been. We would have preferred Covid not happening, but the appeal and resilience of Liverpool FC has been great during the time and thankfully we have been able to grow our partner base.”
- Don’t just offer a product, offer an experience
Another key public relations and marketing lesson from Liverpool FC, is the importance of engaging your target audience at multiple touch points. Don’t just offer a product, offer an experience.
Liverpool’s Director said, “we want to make sure we are getting out in different markets around the world. The club has been on tours across the world and has had fan events in different locations, which is something we should continue.
“However, those events will only touch around 1,00,000 people when you visit a country. That’s why it is important to be an entertaining proposition to watch on TV, and to continuously engage with our fans on digital and otter platforms.
“Every match we play is an opportunity to engage not only with an incredibly passionate base of 54,000 fans at Anfield, but also with a massive global following seven days a week through our media channels and Club content.”
- Develop strong partnership and give them value
Liverpool has carved a reputation for managing its partners and sponsors strategically and ensuring they give them increasing value. This is another valuable public relations lesson from Liverpool.
Carlsberg, Standard Chartered and Nike are all reaping huge brand dividends from their sponsorship of Liverpool.
Scammell said: “Our synergies with partners are very strong and it’s all about making sure we deliver up to their objectives.
“At the same time, we know that when partners invest in the club, it ultimately comes through to the field of play and investing in talent, which plays the entertaining style of football that Liverpool FC is known for. It’s this football that encourages our fans around the world to support the club and also bring in more fans which benefits our partners. “
The Nigerian Football Federation can learn some valuable lessons here. Are sponsors of the Super Eagles such as Coca-Cola, Nigerian Breweries, Dettol, Air Peace and Nike getting maximum return for their investments?
- See challenges as opportunities
The PR and business terrain is full of challenges. Covid redefined almost everything in the last two years. Who knows what the next curved ball will be.
When it comes to challenges, there are life and marketing lessons too to learn from Liverpool FC.
The Club said: “There’s no such thing as a challenge, it’s always about an opportunity! There are plenty of opportunities in the market, but the big opportunity now is harnessing digital so that you can engage with fans across new demographics and take them on a journey, outside of what normally happens on a match day. We are excited about these opportunities.”
You’ll Never Walk Alone (lyrics)
“When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone.”