Former FA communications chief Adrian Bevington discusses the changing football media landscape with UCFB students
The internet, social media and 24 hour rolling news have helped to completely change the way supporters watch and engage in football in the 21st century.
With technology has come demand from fans wanting more from their club and favourite players. Clubs now create more video and written content than ever before, and where a player now tweeting after a match might give supporters a greater insight into how their heroes deal with the highs and lows of the game, it has also damaged the relationship between players, managers and the baying press.
One man who’s seen this dramatic change in dynamic from his time at Middlesbrough and The Football Association is Adrian Bevington – one of the most respected names in the world of sport PR – who recently spoke to students at UCFB Etihad Campus about media and PR in the industry.
In his role at The FA as Director of Communications, Bevington was involved in five World Cups with England. He was latterly the Club England Managing Director before leaving the organisation in 2015, and was part of the team responsible for hiring England managers at all levels.
He now runs his own firm, Adrian Bevington Sport & PR Ltd, and is a consultant to clubs, associations, owners and sports rights companies.
He told students: “The media industry and importance of PR in sport has evolved hugely over the past 20 years. When you think about it, 20 years ago very few clubs even at the highest level had their own PR and media departments – that is completely unimaginable now, it’s unworkable. Everyone has their own in-house media team and social and digital teams who produce content. Content is king for everybody.”
The biggest change has been social media and in particular Twitter which, Bevington said, first made an impact on him and the industry during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and has shaped the landscape since. He believes the challenge for clubs and media since has been how to capitalise on the younger audience the medium attracts.
Bevington, also a valued member of UCFB’s Employability & Enhancement Panel, added: “Look at young people – they are so mobile with their interaction and working off a number of different devices. They consume their media in a completely different way. The traditional media platforms are still there, but they haven’t evolved quickly enough to be relevant for the people born on this side of the millennium. Everything has become a challenge for people born on the other side of it and who worked the other side of it.”