Recently, I had the chance to speak to Shane Brown, who works as the Communications Manager at the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC). The Melbourne Cricket Club is a very prestigious sporting club with a rich history dating back to 1838. Its main role is to manage one of the most famous stadiums in the world – the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Shane’s role as communications manager sees him responsible for sending messages not only to the MCC’s 100,000 members, but to the MCG’s 3 million annual patrons, and the rest of Australian population. He is also responsible for managing the MCG’s reputation with the media and those in government. I think it’s fair to say, there’s a lot that rests on his shoulders!
This interview is an abridged transcript from a phone call with Shane. The twenty minute interview was also used on a project I am undertaking with Deakin University.
Hi Shane. Can you tell us about what the MCC does?
My employer is the Melbourne Cricket Club – that’s the organisation. The MCC is a private club. It has its members, but it also has other roles. One of those roles is to manage the Melbourne Cricket Ground, as well as the national sports museum which sits inside the MCG. And we also manage the parkland. The parkland is public land that the MCC is in charge of managing.
Is your workload more about internal or external communication?
We probably put more emphasis on what we call public facing than to our members. I’d say the ratio would be about 80:20. [Author’s note: this ratio is most likely due to the sheer size difference of publics. 3 million annual patrons vs 100,000 members]
How do you communicate to your members normally?
In many ways and through many channels. We’ve got about 100,000 members, and they live all around the world. The youngest member is 15 and the oldest is 100. It’s a varied demographic. So there’s a number of different channels to meet various needs. We’ve got our website for them. We direct email to them, we use social media quite heavily for discussions and feedback – particularly Facebook and Twitter. We print magazines for members 3 times a year, so there’s print publications. We used to do a weekly advertisement in the newspaper, but we finished that last year.
You’ve got an open day coming up on the 20th November. Can you tell us what sort of communication processes go into planning an event?
Most events on at the MCG are not our events. Things like AFL, cricket, or soccer – bodies will hire the ground out and run their own events. Our role in those events is to deliver what the event hirer needs. Open day is different because it’s our event. We’re putting it on in the rare window that we get to use the ground (between cricket and football). It’s still run by the same skillsets and people who run events in the business. We have an events department who does all of our things like staffing, security, picketing and crowd management and all the important things. But there’s an internal working group that puts that together. So a few months of internal collaboration to make sure we agree on what we’re going to do before we go out publically with the event.
Is there a hierarchy of people who have the final say in communication decisions?
Yeah there is, and that probably depends on who we’re talking to, what the topic is and probably the perceived importance of it. Between myself and the CEO there’s a lot of decisions made about media material and what we will or won’t say in response to questions and queries and information. At a membership level and website content level, most of that content rests with me, and I have to use my judgement as to whether there are higher people who need to have input into what we (the organisation) are saying.
So you have a huge say in what’s going on?
Yeah I hadn’t thought of it that way but yes.
So what goes out to the public really is your domain?
Yeah that’s right, so whether its social media, emails, web media. I’m involved in all of them.
Another topic – with all the social media stuff that is happening around the clock, do your communications team have an around-the-clock service?
It’s funny you used the word team – there’s only three of us. It is a small group so you need to be realistic about what you can achieve at times. There’s two structures to the social media monitoring: There’s event day – we have a dedicated person on match day who’s in the event control room, monitoring all the communication and feeding into the event team replying and providing information about what’s being said. And then there’s outside of that. So on the match day we tend to roster around between three or four of us. And then outside of those hours, I take it. So it’s one person doing it outside of event day. Doing nights, and mornings, and now.
Thanks for your time Shane.
Melbourne Cricket Ground on Twitter
@MCC_members on Twitter
Additional thanks to Georgia Thorley, Bianca Cubitt, Andrew Robertson, Zachary Nathaniel.