Fan Sites & QPR Media Dept: Meeting 7
The latest meeting between the club’s media team, websites and fanzines took place at Loftus Road on Tuesday November 22.
From the club:
Ian Taylor, head of media and comms, IT
Paul Morrissey, press and media manager, PM
David Scriven, webmaster, DS
From the sites:
Clive Whittingham, LoftforWords, CW
Colin Henderson, QPR Report, CH
Richard Hennessey, Not606, RH
Steve Sayce, IndyR’s, SS
Ron Norris, QPRNet, RN
John O’Mahoney and Joanne Connolly, AKUTRs, JOM JC
Matthew Woolf, WATRBs, MW
Neil Dejyothin, ND
1 – New Badge
CEO Lee Hoos (LH) attended the first part of the meeting to discuss the ongoing development of the new badge.
A set of designs was presented to the Supporters Consultation Committee a month ago and the feedback was to wait another year, if necessary, to get the design right rather than rushing things through.
A new set of more simplified badges were presented here and will be shown to the Consultation Committee early in December.
LH is still shooting for the January deadline required for them to appear on next season’s kits but he says “we want better than alright, we have to live with this, we have to get it right.”
The final designs will be put out for a public survey and vote in December – client reference numbers possibly in use to prevent the vote being hijacked.
CW said he felt the new designs were a great improvement on what was shown to the consultation meeting a month ago.
ND said he felt they were on the right path, they felt like QPR badges, but it would be impossible to please everybody.
SS said he was more than happy with all the designs displayed.
JOM raised the old Hammersmith Borough badge but it was reiterated that it would be difficult for the club to use intellectual property it doesn’t own – that, and the intricacy of it which makes it difficult to reproduce.
2 – Communicating financial news
Considering that lots of supporters have access to Companies House documents, what is the club’s strategy for communicating financial news?
IT said the media team would ideally have pushed the news about the debt to equity transfer out before it landed at Companies House, but things relating to finance, stadium and training ground developments have to go through a long process before they can be announced by the club’s official channels. There’s a legal element to this which means it’s not always possible.
3 – Team news on Twitter
RN, acknowledging it wasn’t a major issue, said that it was irritating to have to click a link to find out the team, particularly as the official website doesn’t work well on mobile.
PM said they had quickly stopped doing this after an initial experiment. QPR has a low conversion from social media to the official website - a downside of having so many Twitter followers. The media team has been given a target to improve this conversion rate. The team news is the big high interest story of the week so it was an obvious one to try, but the feedback has been unanimous that people don’t like it. The media team has taken that into account and stopped.
4 – The Neil Warnock arrival announcement
IT said there were arguments for and against the timing of the announcement, made immediately before the Birmingham away game. Had it been made on Sunday or Monday, for example, it would have potentially looked like a reaction to a defeat at Birmingham which would have added to pressure on the manager. Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey wanted it put out before the match, as soon as the deal was agreed.
5 – Audio issues at the fans forum and the Open All R’s broadcasts.
IT said the media team, like every other department at the club, was facing cost cutting following relegation with Financial Fair Play in mind. For a department that doesn’t bring in a lot of revenue, unlike the commercial team for instance, this is a particular challenge for IT and his team. Partners and sponsors are being sought to offset this and Academia have already come in on the social media side.
DS said the equipment being used is good, but it’s not a full blown TV broadcast set up. There were a couple of cables in the set up that were past their sell by date. These have been replaced since the forum and a good deal has been agreed for some new microphones.
The specific issue at the fans forum was to do with the number of people in the room and the interference from smart phones. Everything had passed the sound test before the broadcast with six or seven in the room, but once it went live with 60 people in the room it started to fail.
6 – QPR Player
New HD service launched in the summer. Premium TV deal expired this year and the club moved to Stream UK which is a specialist in streaming video and audio on demand and live. They also work with a number of Premier League clubs including Man Utd and Arsenal. DS said they are confident with the reliability and functionality of the programme, so can deliver video behind a subscription wall in HD on all tablets which they weren’t able to before. There’s been a 33% rise in subscriptions since the summer.
ND praised them for putting the full 90 minutes up after the match as well as the highlights.
SS said it was good the fans forum and other important club communications were also made available for free on YouTube.
DS said the new manager press conference would be made available for free via Player, possibly in exchange for viewers registering with a name and email address as data collection is another ‘key performance indicator’ for all departments.
7 – Paddy Kenny
SS said a lot of supporters felt aggrieved at the idea of Paddy Kenny being invited back as a guest of the club for the Leeds game given what he’s said about the club upon his departure.
IT said the initial plan was to gauge reaction, which was largely negative. Paddy Kenny had also seen the reaction and it had been decided, as a result, to not take him out onto the pitch at half time, but to do a QPR Player interview with him reflecting on his career with the club and setting the record straight about his comments – which were made in the heat of the moment about certain individuals at the club at that time and he regrets. This subsequently changed again when Kenny informed the club that his partner is due to give birth earlier than expected so he was no longer able to come to the Leeds game in any case.
RH, CW, ND and IT all expressed surprise the reaction had been so strong, and felt it was something of a shame given how well he’d played for the club during his time here.
8 – InsideR online magazine
IT said that, with regret, it’s being discontinued. The costs of producing it were upwards of £15k a season and it’s been an obvious thing to cut from the budget. The club had examined making it a paid-for publication via the Apple store but there would be significant set-up costs and the general consensus was it wouldn’t definitely wash its face. RN, JC and SS reiterated they thought it was one of the best things the club did media wise, but accepted the reasons for stopping it.
9 – Stan Bowles
JOM and JC attended the meeting to discuss the issue they’d raised at the Fans Forum about their perceived lack of support from IT and Andy Evans at the Community Trust for privately arranged fundraising events for Stan Bowles. JOM and JC were also unhappy at the manner their efforts were being portrayed on social media and angry at CW’s coverage of the event on Twitter and LoftforWords.
IT expressed his disappointment in the way JOM and JC had aired their frustrations at the forum, and felt it was wrong to name him and Andy Evans personally in their absence, giving them no right to reply.
CW reiterated he felt the stance JOM and JC took was harsh, especially in light of the work the media team and club has done in recent years in relation to former players. Much of which has been done by IT, the media team and Andy Evans in their own personal time.
There remains a difference of opinion on how the original meeting and proposal was handled, and what constitutes a “full proposal”. JOM and JC wanted their initial ideas escalated to LH as soon as possible, whereas IT and Andy Evans wanted a more fulsome proposal to be submitted before taking that step.
JOM and JC’s ideas for events have now been emailed directly to Lee Hoos who has asked for firm proposals to be submitted for consideration, which IT confirmed was what he and Andy Evans had asked for following their second meeting. JOM and JC are now aware of what the club is expecting in terms of a full proposal and are discussing this with LH.
IT said the media team, commercial team and Community Trust have worked hard over the past couple of years to improve the way the club care for and welcome back its former players and would continue to do so. The club has already arranged several official events for Stan, not least the Stan Bowles Day against Rotherham with special match programme and first team shirts. There has also been other significant private, unannounced support requested by the families of former players.
10 – Attendance at Fans Forum
There was criticism from some on social media that it was always the “same old faces” attending the Fans Forum.
IT said the criteria for invitation to the forum changed this year, specifically to combat this. LH is keen to hear from a wider cross section of the support and to that end the tickets were divided this year as follows: 50% to the top loyalty points holders, 20% season ticket holders selected at random from the database, 10% members selected in the same way, 15% fan sites and groups, 5% hospitality members and box holders. 150 people were invited over the course of the exercise, 65 people attended on the night from 85 who’d originally confirmed they would – possibly the fact Les Ferdinand dropped out late affected this. Different season ticket holders, members and hospitality members would be invited at random next time.
11 – New website
The Football League Interactive (FLI) agreement is finally up in 2017 after 15 years. Although FLI are imminently due to present their proposals for continuing to the 80-odd clubs currently with them, QPR are very keen to go their own way with an independent, redesigned official website. Despite the cost cutting, this does still have support at board level and Tony Fernandes is particularly keen to see the official website improved.
DS said the club initially picked out six businesses that they’d like to work with. These were then shortlisted down to three who put together written proposals and presented concepts to the club which are under consideration.
Decision will be made on what the club plans to do early in the New Year, and the project will take a year to turn around including the consultation period with supporters.
IT said the club are working on finding time in Frank McLintock’s diary to have him back at the club as a half time guest, as well as continuing to follow leads for contact details for the remaining members of the 75/76 squad.
CW raised the newly designed Ticketmaster website, which seems to be restricting supporters to only buying four or six away tickets at a time, even if they have requisite loyalty points. It means if you have a group bigger than six, you have to make two purchases, pay the booking fee twice and often end up sitting apart. IT noted this to refer to relevant department.
DS said that while the ‘splash screen’ that greets you every time you log onto the official website was unpopular, it currently generates a six figure sum in sales per season so while they’d like to get rid of it, it is a valuable asset.