You have to give the NFL owners a little credit. They actually read some articles on public affairs but unfortunately it seems they only read about online public affairs from the 2006 election cycle. And I dont think that old playbook is enough to help them fight the earned media the players are receiving. NFL Owners versus the Players is a losing battle unless the Owners actually open up their wallets for what would amount to be a grain of sand out of their money.
They have all of the earned media on their side. For the most part, these are people that have improved their skills through hard work and dedication. They give up their health in exchange for 10 years or so of fame and fortune. Fans want to connect with them and be around them. ESPN and your local sports reporters want them on their programs because they drive ratings. Plus, don't underestimate player Facebook and Twitter pages. Basically, the Players have earned media behind them and the longer the lockout goes the more sympathetic fans will be.
They have little earned media opportunity. Roger Goodell is the face of the owners and do you really want to see him or get his autograph? Then go to the individual owners. Sure there is Jerry Jones but at the end of the day who do you associate with? Players or owners. The owners need to counter the player's earned media with paid media.
Now the owners have been doing the bear minimum to date. They've pushed out email (see below) as soon as the negotiations broke down. They are running a small amount of search ads and directing it to a NFL Labor site. The site has good up to date information, tries to counter player Tweets, and provides categories to browse for specific information. However, they need to kick it up a notch....
WHAT THE OWNERS SHOULD BE SPENDING MONEY ON
No cheap stuff. Go get $500K for 1-2 months worth of marketing and do things like:
- Promoted tweets to drive to the owner information twitter account
- Rich media video campaign to get out their messaging. Target men 25 - 55 across big ad network buys
- Google click to play video ads across Google's ad network
- Buy search ads on NFL player's names with the largest twitter followers
- Pre-roll videos in YouTube, AOL, and other top video sites; again target men
- Blast out on sports blogs
- Heck, even make ad buys on ESPN and other sports news sites
- Make an assumption that fantasy baseball players are also interested in the NFL and run ads
- Update the display and rich media ads at least once per week based on fast moving stories
- Run ad awareness studies to see how the ads impact public perception
Those are just a few ideas for the owners. Unless they kick up their paid media, they are really just wasting their time with their meager efforts to date.