PR Lessons from Deflate-Gate...You Figure It Out!
As a life-long Boston sports fan, I’m loving these two weeks before Super Bowl XLIX! Bring on the controversy baby!
Amusing deflate-gate headlines in the media include:
"No PR nightmare that the NFL can't make worse"
—USA Today, 1/27/15
"After Scandal-Ridden Season, Can Goodell Get NFL's Image Back On Track?"
—Sports Business Daily, 1/27/15
"NFL, Patriots show how not to handle a PR crisis"
—Los Angeles Daily News, 1/22/15
Deflate-gate is a PR nightmare for the NFL? Really?
Take a look at Cable TV ratings after the NFL Conference Championship games the past two years. For the week ending 1/26/14, ESPN came in ninth with prime time average viewers of 1,088,000. A year later, for the week ending 1/25/15, ESPN came in first with prime time average viewers more than doubling to 2,254,000.
A Doubting Thomas is going to protest. Different Super Bowl matchup! ESPN covers other sports than just football! They’ll pay for this bad publicity later!
Different Super Bowl? Give me a break. Seattle’s a constant and Manning and Brady are similar draws as well. ESPN covering other sports? Non-issue. You’re seriously going to claim one week of mid-season basketball and hockey, and early season golf and tennis are different between the two years? I think not. Negative coverage hurts the NFL in the long run? Not deflate-gate coverage. What about domestic violence among players? That’s a little more complicated. My PR thoughts there lean toward "idiots are everywhere," so this too will pass.
The sales growth guy in me strongly believes there’s one massive dark cloud on the NFL’s horizon, but it’s neither deflate-gate nor idiot players. The NFL’s monster challenge of the future is that many families aren’t letting their kids play football anymore. Fewer kids playing the game will greatly impact the sport’s popularity in a generation or two. Need proof? Look at baseball. Can anyone claim it’s still America’s pastime?