May 1, 2020
Saints Announcement an Example of Effective Communication
As some in sports media have begun to talk about baseball and hockey coming back this year, there are others who are openly wondering if football will start on time. At present, most teams have not made any kind of announcement for or against the idea. Some have opted to cancel offseason workouts, however, and the New Orleans Saints are one of the latest.
The Saints made the announcement that their offseason program would not be happening, and that players would be expected to workout at home and come to camp ready, whenever camp might be. Both GM Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton told the players to expect their coaching staff to maintain “regular communication” with players through spring and summer.
Part of that communication was a positive and empathetic message from Payton to his players: “Pay attention to your family. Pay attention to keeping yourself and your family safe. Abide by the orders of each of the states that you’re in. We’ll handle the rest of it… Get yourself in shape, and then, when we’re able to get together, we’ll move on and have a great training camp and a great season…”
With this message, Payton was able to get his key message across, that he expected the players to be ready to go when called upon, while still defining priorities for the team and the brand. Take care of yourselves and your families.
Looking at that message, we see a leader who is on message, as well as speaking in a way that draws people in and creates buy-in. In a time of crisis, there is a risk of losing loyalty if a message tells people what they should do rather than addresses their feelings or concerns. Payton knows his team won’t make any kind of run if there’s mistrust and division. He also knows that players won’t play for a coach they don’t believe in.
This principle has some relevance to nearly every brand or organization. People, whether they are members of a team, an audience, or a market cohort, want to be connected and appreciated, not taken for granted. Leaders and marketers can do a lot of heavy lifting with short, simple communication that is primarily connective.
Case in point, Payton didn’t have to say a lot to say what he needed to say in a way that connected with his players and their families at a time when many people are worried, scared, and wondering what might happen next. Once they were connected with his message, Payton offered clear expectations, as well as a long-term vision everyone on the team could get behind.