The Word on PR in Season Ticket Renewal Campaigns; A Review of the 2021/22 Period So Far

Is it just me or does the season ticket renewal period come around sooner every year?

I’m not sure whether this is an operational thing or clubs hedging their bets in case the conclusion of the current campaign doesn’t go to plan, but the notion of having to secure your season ticket and often make payments towards with nearly a quarter of the season to go, doesn’t always sit right.

I’ve always had a bit of sympathy for PR and ticketing departments within football clubs during this time , tasked with justifying rising prices and the continued custom of supporters, despite the uncertainty of which league you may be in and the quality of the team they’ll be paying to watch.

The challenges faced by communications on ensuring renewals and early-bird sign ups will vary on how well the team is doing on the pitch, but also socioeconomic factors in their area .

Photo from Flickr (Commercial Commons License)

Caption: Fans will be itching to get back to football, which could help boost season ticket sales

Throw in the pandemic and you have a myriad of reasons to consider, with credited season ticket refunds from this season giving many financial flexibility, a desire for fans to get back into stadiums, but also the economic fall-out of those who have been on reduced income or have lost their jobs.

This week, The Word will be looking at some of the ticket renewal/early-bird PR campaigns that clubs have launched ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Sunderland AFC- Sunderland Together

Sunderland’s comms team have had a simpler task than many in driving season ticket sales, given the club’s new ownership, excellent performance on the pitch and the prospect of playing in a higher division when 2021/22 campaign kicks off in August.

Nevertheless, the Sunderland Together campaign has been met with universal positivity if social media is anything to go by. As as a Sunderland season ticket holder I can certainly say that sentiment is also shared outside of these platforms.

Photo taken by Stephen Linsley

Caption: The personalised ‘blueprint’ email for Sunderland Together was a great touch

Each existing member was sent a personalised email with their name under a Project Managers section, which served the purpose of the new ownership under Kyle Louis-Dreyfus continuing their message of rebuilding the club from the ground up alongside its supporters.

Caption: The #SunderlandTogether campaign provides a strong brand message

The continuity of messaging is clear throughout Sunderland’s communications channels, with the ‘We are rebuilding #SunderlandTogether’ tweet which received 1000’s of impressions and captured the emotion of the fan base by tapping into the history of city, likening the rebuilding job at the club to that of the industrious past that many supporters’ ancestors were part of.

Millwall FC Home from Home

Caption: Millwall have been prominent across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube this week

Millwall have also been keen to involve the fans in their Home from Home season ticket renewal campaign. Demonstration of two-way interactions on social media has increased importance given that they’re very much a community club, as most fans hail from the catchment area within South East London.

The tone of the Home From Home campaign by its very name is synonymous with a constant and local fan base. It has also got Millwall fans chomping at the bit to return to The Den, or their second home.

Caption: Millwall have been interacting with their supporters frequently

Social media updates on tickets sold with rallying cries to reach the next, was also an opportunity to encourage sales via that sense of belonging and collective achievement, whilst their regular interaction with individual fan posts was also bound to have a positive impact on their followers.

So far the campaign as been consistent in its evocative messaging and the proof has been in the pudding with how fans have been engaging and in my opinion has demonstrated the same values as Sunderland albeit less creatively.

Manchester United , The Caring Club?

Manchester United’s approach to season ticket renewal campaigns has to be in many ways more covert than the likes of Sunderland and Millwall, with a global fan base in the millions who in the most part will be a redundant audience in regards to persuading fans to renew or buy season tickets.

Photo from Andre Zahn (Creative Commons License)

Caption: Hopefully Old Trafford will be full come the start of the 2021/22 season

Nevertheless, United have succeeded in generating goodwill with supporters and onlookers after announcing a welcome price freeze in amidst the financial implications of the Covid pandemic.

Safe in the knowledge that they could sell out season tickets with no real marketing plan, the club have used the opportunity to portray themselves externally as one considerate towards their loyal, match attending fans as oppose to the bottom line the global commercial activities generate.

The Red Devils have utilised their media appeal and the story of United freezing their season ticket prices has been picked up by the likes of The Independent and The Times to name a few.

I think the contrast in approach demonstrates the varying challenges and opportunities for PR during the busy season ticket renewal period.

How was your club tackled the issue?

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