This week the Whitecaps’ website posted a video of Marc Dos Santos expressing certain frustration with the media. He was decrying the ongoing questions about the status of loanee Ali Adnan. He stated that “it’s been annoying now for me for one month. Everybody’s asking me and I said when it’s confirmed in the right side or not, we gonna talk”.
In other words, back off and we’ll only (happily) talk when a deal is done (or when a deal is simply not possible).
There is a certain irony in our manager’s frustration.
We supporters get invested in our team in two ways. One is the obvious and literal way of reaching for our wallets. We buy tickets, scarves, jerseys, calendars, hats, and the like. This money pays a few salaries along the way.
Second, we invest our hearts. Investing our hearts is, of course, inextricably linked to our willingness to open our wallets. With our hearts invested, we feel a need and a want to know what is going on with our team. As we say, we follow the team.
Given the forgoing, it only makes sense to keep supporters at least somewhat happy by keeping them somewhat in the loop. This is why brands, corporations, and sports teams invest in communications and PR departments. Messaging works on several levels. It provides perceived benefits to the sender and the receiver.
Just as Marc Dos Santos gets frustrated with the ongoing questions, we fans get frustrated with the dearth of information coming from our club. Since we pay to keep the operation afloat, why not bend over backwards to keep us engaged and informed? Throw us a few bones.
All teams need to keep some matters private and behind closed doors. We get that. We certainly don’t want to negatively impact a negotiation exercise or any other delicate matter.
However, there is nothing wrong with putting the odd update on the website telling us, in the present case, that no agreement has been reached with Adnan’s club Udinese, but we are continuing to talk to try to hammer out a deal. A deal is still possible.
The lack of information about the present status of the Adnan situation reflects the Whitecaps historical approach to communications. Some of this communication gap is controversial and some not so sensitive or significant. For example, some more open communications would have gone a long way toward defusing the handling of alleged sexual impropriety in years gone by. Instead, incremental and dismissive information releases only led to more questions, speculation, frustration, and outright protests. In turn, this only fed the press to paint a negative story on the 6:00 news.
Similarly, we supporters love to follow and look for new signings in the preseason period. We check in constantly to look for new players to arrive on our shores. Despite our interest, we typically get news of new players from the Whitecaps long after the cat is out of the bag. We often first learn of new players by way of third parties. That is, we know the ‘Caps are going to sign, or have already signed, a player weeks or months before we get official confirmation on the team’s website.
Communications is important in this electronic world. While there are obvious reasons why too much information can’t be released. There is also potential great benefit to be gained by releasing SOME information. A happy balance can be found. That is the job of the PR department.
The message to the Whitecaps is pretty simple. A lack of information is frustrating to your supporters, the folks who fund your salaries.
As our manager stated, reporters continually asking about the status of Ali Adnan is annoying. To avoid this annoyance will indeed take some work on your part. However, if you take the time to bring us just a little bit more into the loop by opening the channels of communication just a little bit more, some of this frustration could be avoided.
You don’t have to tell us everything. Indeed, you shouldn’t. Just tell us something. It might just improve things for you too.