Thursday, 18 October 2012

How social media won NHLPA lockout PR battle

The National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) has convinced fans that they are indeed the victims in the current National Hockey League (NHL) lockout. Social media has helped the players paint a picture of the big bad billionaires that want to take away their right to the money they literally play for.

The players are the strongest brand ambassador one could find for the NHL but as they are locked out, fans side with them over the league. Hockey players have turned to social media to paint a digital fairytale. They are the knights in shining armour and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is the evil witch.

Before the lockout was even announced, players were tweeting their dismay with how the owners were handling business. Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes seemed offended after Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold approved two $98 million dollar contracts to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Few players have been more outspoken about the issue than New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Almost daily, Lundqvist finds a way to appeal to fans by talking about how much he misses hockey. He sounds like he wants to negotiate because he chose not to flee to Europe and play for his hometown Swedish Elite League.

The NHLPA has uploaded a series of videos from the players that address the fans. They detail their love and passion for hockey. James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs even states, "We don't want a lockout, we want to play. We love to play." Each player that speaks is sure to point out that although they want to play, like any other business partnership they want to be treated fairly.

The NHLPA has continually had the players use specific lingo; what's right, what's fair, for the fans, we want to play. Most of those things are debatable but one has to admit that the NHLPA is smart. These are calculated sound bites to stick in each fans mind, to make them take their side and so far it has worked.

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