Well, they say bad news comes in threes. First, ITV’s website streaming live World Cup matches, ITVLive, crashed during the very first game of the competition. Next, viewers of ITV’s HD Channel missed Steven Gerrard’s goal in England’s first match vs the USA when the channel cut to an ad break. Finally, in the last 24 hours ITV pundit, Robbie Earle, has been dismissed for selling his allocation of World Cup tickets to a brewing company, who then used them for a marketing stunt.
All in all a very bad start to the tournament, and a situation ITV needs to get a grip on before it becomes a ’death spiral’ of bad news.
So far the signs aren’t great that ITV really knows how to go about turning the situation around. The on-air apology to HD viewers from Adrian Chiles at the half time interval on Saturday was less than fulsome. Then, the explanation afterwards was slow in emerging and didn’t strike a genuinely regretful tone. Within social media, where the furore has been particularly intense, ITV has made some basic apologies via its twitter feeds @itvfootball and @itvlive. However, more significant action is required if ITV want to turn things around and regain control of the agenda.
Here are some tips to help ITV move the coverage away from its gaffes, and back to Robert Green the football!
1. Be bothered
The World Cup is a big deal. People are passionate about their national team. Emotions run high. ITV needs to reconsider its ‘corporate’ tone of voice in its statements. Adopting a more ‘human’ tone will convince its audience it shares their passion, and is genuinely sorry if it has spoiled this once in every four years experience.
2. Actively listen, and learn
The massive amount of online buzz around each of these incidents provides a great resource for ITV. Listening in can help ITV inform the content of any response, identify detractors and advocates, and measure the effect of any communication. Use this rich information to your advantage, don’t run scared.
3. Put some skin in the game
Saying sorry and being empathetic is a start. But the connected and authentic world of social media will respond more positively to actions, and evidence that ITV is putting itself out, in order to make amends. Here are a few ideas for ITV’s comms team.
– Use some of its remaining ticket allocation to get some deserving kids to a game, or several games. Why not run a competition for the kid with the best story of courage to come to the Final?
– Provide some value added content for your HD viewers to make amends for the ‘Gerrard goal’ incident. How about rescheduling an ad break to show the goal ten times, in super slow mo, and all its HD glory.
These are just two possible opportunities that can be found to turn this crisis around. What is crucial is for ITV to act fast, and in the right spirit of humbleness, openness, and authenticity.
Let’s hope ITV’s, and England’s, early performances can both make a sharp recovery before the end of the tournament.
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