The work of a football club’s media team perhaps goes under a lot of peoples radars. Football fans are constantly baying for the latest quotes from players and managers, but do they ever spare a thought for the teams of people at each club who make it possible? For every official club tweet we see on our Twitter timelines, we often fail to realise that some tireless individual at a computer has scrutinised over every character, until emojis are forever ingrained upon their retinas.
As Head of Media & Communications at Queen’s Park Rangers, it’s Ian Taylor’s job to oversee the club’s media team, which encompasses everything from administering the club’s social media handles, compiling the matchday programme, and organising and conducting interviews with players and staff. It’s a relentless job, but one Taylor clearly relishes.
“I enjoy it here,” he says “I’m in a real privileged position. It’s a position that I love and one I’ve worked my way into over the years. My specific role is overseeing the team we’ve got here and more so looking after the senior management figures here – the owner and CEO in terms of their press requirements, and then obviously with the first team players and the management.”
By his own admission, Taylor feels honoured to work with a manager as enigmatic as Ian Holloway, although he admits ‘Ollie’s’ outspoken nature makes his job more challenging:
“Ollie wears his heart on his sleeve,” he says “There are ‘Ollie-isms’ which he comes up with. I think he described us after our draw at Leeds as ‘not being flitty, farty QPR anymore’ and most people wouldn’t know what that means so yeah, he has his ways! He’s Mr. QPR through and through – he knows what this great club is all about and our supporters and what they demand.
Taylor has worked in the media team at QPR for over a decade, and has experienced the many highs and many lows, both on and off the pitch, of the west London club throughout the last ten years. The transient nature of the clubs fortunes over the last few years have made his job a particularly challenging one.
“There have been a lot of negative stories that I’ve had to deal with in my team here, a lot of positive stories as well,” he admits. “There are certain challenges, depending on what the topic is. It’s about knowing what personalities you’re dealing with – certain players have different personalities and don’t perhaps understand how the media works, whereas others are absolutely excellent to deal with.”
Taylor’s team of six devote their life to covering QPR. With that being the case, it may be surprising to learn that only one of his staff is a QPR fan.
“We’ve got a wide range [of teams supported] which often causes a lot of debate in the office if our teams have played each other! But I don’t think it’s important that they’re a QPR fan. Is it a positive if they are? Probably not, either. You need to remain quite grounded and being around the players if you’re a fan is often a challenge in itself because certainly you have to take that hat off to make sure you’re doing the job to the best of your ability from a professional point of view.”
“When you’re working for a football club, it becomes your life, it’s 24/7. People know, and QPR fans know that I was brought up a Spurs fan, but if you ask me now if I’m not working on a weekend, which is rare, the first result I look for is QPR above Tottenham, no question about it. I think it governs how your working week goes. If QPR are winning, it makes my life a lot easier and makes my job a lot easier!”
Indeed, Taylor’s job has evolved significantly over the years, as social media has changed the face of club media and communications. “The power of social media has taken it to a completely different level altogether. Everything is on the radar now for journalists. Social media can be good from a club point of view – it can be our most powerful tool – but it obviously has its drawbacks.”
With QPR’s location in London, efficient use of social media is crucial in attracting the next generation of fans to Loftus Road, but competition is fierce in the capital. “QPR are in the same borough as Fulham and Chelsea – Brentford are just down the road – so we are competing with three clubs that are really close by. Then you’ve got Arsenal, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, West Ham – as well as the Millwalls, Charltons, and Barnets of this world. So yes, there is competition.”
However, QPR is a club that prides itself on its involvement within the local community, and Taylor believes the club has a lot to offer to potential new fans: “QPR have grand plans to move into a new stadium in years to come so ensuring that the junior fan base is one that’s thriving is key to that and we do a lot as a club alongside our community trusts to ensure that young supporters know what QPR is about.”
Walk around Loftus Road, and you’re left in no doubt about the club’s pride in its community in West London. The players tunnel features a large banner reading ‘We R Together’, set against photographs of fans young and old, a reminder to players of who they wear the famous blue and white hoops for. And Taylor believes that under Holloway, the only way is up for the Rs, and he is looking forward to being part of the club’s future.
“The club’s got big aspirations both on and off the pitch in terms of ideally, getting back to the Premier League under Ian Holloway. Off the pitch as well there’s huge aspirations, in terms of the new training ground and the new stadium as well, which I’d love to be part of.”
A short video I made of the interview