I was thinking recently about the NHL and the problem it faces as a result of cancelling the 2004-2005 hockey season. People have stated that the league’s failure to come to an agreement with the players is just the beginning of the end for professional hockey. Hockey as a product will struggle even more if it returns next season than it has already. And it fascinates me to read about the countless hours both sides waste in their negotiating. Most recently, the NHL made two offers to the players who promptly responded that they were not impressed. How long has this been going on now? Do you even remember what hockey is? How can we get both sides to come to an agreement? And how can the NHL save hockey?
The NHL should start a blog. And I don’t mean marketing crap in the form of a blog, but an actual blog with posts written by people involved in the running of the league and in the negotiations with the NHLPA. The league has in the past been anything but open and transparent. Closed door meetings, “no comment” answers, secret phone calls, the works. As a result, their customers (that’s you, the fan) have grown to ignore and ridicule the league almost as much as the greedy players. And if their lack of transparency keeps up, their customers will only become more indifferent. How can you re-launch a product when your customers just don’t give a damn about it?
If the NHL were blogging, I think they’d see a number of benefits:
- Communication with their customers!
What’s the best way to keep your customers interested as you try to improve your product and prepare it for consumption? Find out what your customers think. Involve them in the process, and let them guide you. And not just customers, but partners too!
- An improved public image!
Who would look more like the bad guy after a round of negotiations goes nowhere? The NHLPA who is closed, private, and bureaucratic, or the NHL who carries on an open dialogue on their blog? Clearly, the respect and admiration the NHL would gain from blogging would give them the upper hand in negotiations with the players. Not only that, but the NHL would be seen as a forward thinking organization, cutting edge even.
- Education and understanding
Just as going into the locker room between periods gives you greater insight into how a team is feeling and thinking, an NHL blog would give fans better insight into the stresses the league apparently faces. Another example is Microsoft’s Channel9 – readers have the ability to learn why Microsoft makes certain decisions and what’s coming down the pipe. The NHL currently lacks such educational capabilities.
- Eye opening experience
Perhaps by starting their own blog, the NHL would be interested in reading other blogs and would start keeping track of what is being said about hockey and the league by the fans. The big thing here is learning to listen. Hockey is a product that does not change to reflect customer wants and desires, and there is no reason for that. Want to impress your customers with a re-launch? Find out what they want first.
I am sure there are many more benefits as well, but those listed above came immediately to mind. The cost of getting involved in blogging is almost zero, and the return on investment is incredible. I think everyone would benefit if the NHL started blogging – the league itself, the players, and most importantly, the fans.
If I were the NHL, I’d be franticly looking for ways to “save hockey” and make it a viable product again. So if you’re reading this NHL, start a blog!