The NFL and its Lingering PR Problem

nflThe National Football League is arguably the most popular sporting league in the world, but it will never reach its full potential unless there’s a concerted effort to rid the league of players who continually damage the NFL’s reputation. Roger Goodell & Co. conduct business as usual with a “too big to fail” mentality, but if they don’t address this pressing issue soon it could lead to damaging consequences for the league and each of its 32 NFL franchises.

Since the Super Bowl in February, 27 active NFL players have been arrested for a number of different crimes. Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is one of those 27, pinned with murder and five related gun charges just two short weeks ago. I thought the Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick incidents would be enough to push the NFL to make drastic changes to its player misconduct policies, but apparently not.

The league’s public relations crisis can be analyzed from a strategic communications perspective. The NFL has a reputation to uphold, and as of now the decision makers have been reactive instead of proactive in combating off-field player misconduct. To salvage the league’s image and restore credibility with the fans, media, and other invested stakeholders, these steps should be taken by the NFL commissioner :

  1. Set an overarching goal that will be the main focus of your efforts. In this case, ” Decrease the number of off-field player incidents.”
  2. Establish strategies, which are the broad approaches you’ll take to achieve the goal. Revising player misconduct policies and enforcing stricter penalties and repercussions are a few good examples.
  3. Identify measurable objectives that will be used to see if the chosen strategies are being met. Banning or suspending players who act out could be an objective that’s easily measured to see if player misconduct decreases due to increased player bans and suspensions.
  4. Tactics need to be implemented to identify the tools you will use to achieve the already set strategies and objectives on a day-to-day basis. Working with the press to get the message out about revised policies and forcing players to seek professional help to fix behavioral issues are a few useful tactics that will aid in achieving long-term goals.

This problem is not going away anytime soon. Regardless of what the NFL decides to do, it’s imperative to take action and communicate goals, strategies, objectives and tactics with those who have a vested interest in the long-term success of the National Football League.

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Jason Collins And The NBA’s Unique Branding Opportunity

adcf2291e8d33807121fcabed6e692b8If you haven’t heard of Jason Collins before today, you’re not alone. He’s kept a low profile during his 12-year stint as a professional basketball player in the NBA, but today he became the first openly gay male professional athlete in a major American professional team sport.

For the professional sporting community, this announcement couldn’t have come any sooner. While American society becomes more accepting of equal rights and treatment for the LGBT community, there’s been this social stigma surrounding homosexuality within professional sports. The barrier that once stood is diminished, and today Collins will go down in history not as a professional basketball player, but as a  Jackie Robinson type who forever changed the face of professional sports.

With this story of courage and strength pulling at the heart strings of fans, players and supporters of equality, the NBA possesses a unique opportunity to build on this narrative and strengthen their global brand. I’m not encouraging the NBA to exploit this man’s heroic story for financial gain, I just believe it’s a great opportunity for Collins, David Stern (NBA Commissioner) and the NBA to lead the conversation surrounding this highly controversial topic. Organizations are continually searching for a worthy cause to stand behind, and the NBA should use this inspirational story as a way to align its brand with progressive values that are becoming more prevalent in modern society.

It’s 2013, public sentiment is shifting in support of LGBT equality and the NBA is a brand that has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Strongly supporting Collins and the overarching cause will show the world that the world’s most prolific basketball brand is synonymous with authenticity, acceptance, fairness and equality. Branding aside, this story surrounding Collins and the NBA is something special. Collins finally gets to live the life he’s always wanted, and the NBA has a once in a lifetime opportunity to redefine its brand for the better.

The Euros: An American Guide

 

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“Why has there been soccer on every day for the past month?” says the American viewer in search of baseball, SportsCenter and college football.

“It’s the World Cup I bet!” shouts the seasonal soccer fan that becomes a die-hard when the World Cup comes around every four years.

The football inundating your television screens is the UEFA European Football Championship, better known as the Euros. It can be described as the World Cup’s talented, respectable younger sibling. For one month, the 24 best teams in Europe embark on a journey to hoist the Euro Cup Trophy as champions. It’s football, but not the kind you’re used to on the gridiron.

There’s a noticeable difference in passion and enthusiasm when countries gather to compete against each other. The respect, pride and love each player has for their respective country fuels the competitiveness of Europe’s most prestigious soccer tournament. The Euros give the World Cup a run for its money. Most of the top-tier teams in the World Cup hail from Europe. Put those teams in one tournament and you have a great month of soccer starring the best players in the world. You don’t need to be a fan of the game to appreciate and respect nations striving to be the best club in Europe.

Citizens can forget the troubles plaguing their lives and countries and come together as fans and friends of the beautiful game. As hosts of Euro 2016, that’s exactly what France did after the devastating Paris attacks in November 2015. When terrorism tries to tear a country apart, soccer unifies cities and countries with lasting alliances and rich histories.

Social, political or economic troubles can dampen a country’s spirits, but soccer tournaments like the Euros and World Cup are there to keep morale high. The entertainment value soccer and sports provide are unparalleled. But sometimes it’s not about sport. It’s about pride for your country, the place you call home. The Euros are more than just a tournament, they’re more like home.