In 2012, another lockout rocked the NHL, cutting the 2012-13 season in half. Early on there was talk that there may not be a hockey season at all. By the time owners and players came to an agreement, much of the season–and fan’s patience–was at an end. Today, as the regular season comes to a close, ratings and attendance are high. But everyone from ESPN to sports radio and even NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wonders if the league is still on thin ice with fans. The NHL invested heavily in targeted entertainment PR during the shortened season and must continue to do so in the off season.
Diehards will be there every time the puck drops, and the NHL must not take them for granted. Meanwhile, those fans who took a bit more coaxing will need even more as the long summer reminds them of how much hockey they missed last season. How did the NHL so quickly get back in the good graces of fans burned three times in a decade? And what can other companies learn from this example? Ronn Torossian explains 4 Ways to Use Smart PR to Reconnect with Fans
Push the Story Lines
Although there may be some grumblings over the shortened season, the NHL focused on stressing the story lines. With so few games, each one played a larger role in determining whether or not a team would make it to the playoffs. In the shortened season, each game meant twice as much. The NHL used this to its advantage, emphasizing the all-or-nothing aspect of each game. What narratives can you tell about your product? More importantly, how can you tell those stories with a sense of urgency?
Keep your fans curious and engaged with Social Media
Reaching out to fans via social networking was an easy way for the NHL to reconnect and make sure the fans knew that the lines of communication were wide open. Social media is a notoriously filter-free zone. The NHL allowed fans to vent their frustration while, at the same time, giving them countless opportunities to celebrate positives. Ronn Torossian of 5WPR advises utilizing Facebook and Twitter to engage individuals, whether asking trivia questions or giving “inside” information. This will keep your fans curious and engaged as well.
Fan Appreciation Nights
What better way to show fans how much they are appreciated than by dedicating entire games, days, and weeks to just that thing. The NHL harnessed the power of FREE, offering exciting promotions at nearly every game. Plus, every time they gave away logo-decorated swag, they got the added benefit of turning fans into walking billboards for pro hockey. How can you harness the power of FREE in your business to show your customers how much you appreciate them?
Boost your online reputation with positive content
There may be some undecided individuals who are not yet convinced they should ever again swear their allegiance to the NHL. If the majority of what they find online is negative press, they will be less likely to buy in again. The NHL countered this by turning all of their positive stories into optimized entertainment PR across the web and social media. It’s a given that you cannot control what people say online. But you can control what people see when they search for your name or brand. The NHL fully expects to win back the hearts and passion of its fans, so the league took these positive steps to re-engage and repair the breach in customer confidence. Ronn Torossian knows how you can apply the same positive actions in your business to promote your brand. If you have any questions about what steps to take next, contact 5WPR today.