Business PR Strategy

The Van Gaal Effect: How a change at the top can affect PR strategy

Posted by Deborah | May 21st, 2014 | No responses

AND so the deal is done.

After something of a false start with David Moyes, Manchester United has now signed Louis Van Gaal as their club manager.

It puts Ryan Giggs right there by his side as assistant, and grants the rest of the world the right to kick-up a storm of ‘suitability speculation’ all over social media channels as we await the first few games with Van Gaal in charge.

No doubt the ‘business’ that is Manchester United will be hard at work developing a corporate strategy and revised marketing vision around their latest team-inclusion. These are interesting days for sure!

Of course, getting a new manager / leader in any business or organisation can cause no end of change and challenge.
Not least, that impact is seen and felt for the PR and marketing teams.

Experience tells me it can be very different when you have a relatively PR-savvy new boss appointed to the helm, compared to one who just assumes that “that stuff happens around me and my people will keep me safe from trouble”.

The best company leaders tend to be those who do ‘get’ PR. Sure, they get finance too, they get resourcing, they get HR – and in Van Gaal’s case, they get The Beautiful Game – but a true understanding of marketing and PR makes for a forward-thinking leader who sees outward, but also inward, communication paths.

When I’ve watched client organisations change leadership structures, I’m always mindful of what changes may come as a new boss takes to the big leather seat.

Might they be press-weary and deeply resistant to media relations work?
Might they be vainly obsessed with inwardly focused PR?
Might they be anti-agency because of past experiences?
Might they be recognise that the term of PR is actually wider than media? Might they understand stakeholder relationships and the need for good internal communication?

Who knows.
We can’t change the PR-preconceptions of a new leader, but any internal or external marketing strategist and PR guru will know that this is ‘time critical’ in a company.

They should play the game carefully, use the right tactics, learn the skills of the manager, while keeping abreast of the impact on the existing players.

Change is inevitable and no match will ever run exactly the same with a new guv’nor at the head.

PR teams and consultants have the chance to use a new era for new opportunity and creativity.

Prove resistant to that change or playing to the tune of an old manager’s rules….and you’ll land yourself an own-goal for sure!

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