June 7, 2010 — Vol. 26 No. 21
As the Stanley Cup Playoffs speed toward their thrilling finale, and either the Philadelphia Flyers or Chicago Blackhawks end a long championship drought, four Idaho State University researchers found that by employing a combination of effective image repair tactics, product improvements, and new marketing, the National Hockey League has finally repaired the damage to its image caused by the 2004-05 lockout.
The analysis is titled “The Puck Stops Here: The NHL's Image Restoration Strategies During the 2004-2005 Lockout.” The study, which will appear in a chapter of an upcoming anthology, demonstrates that the damage the NHL did to its own image prior to and during the lockout was severe. The NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, attempted to restore the league’s image by justifying the lockout as the only way to save the business and improve competitiveness between small and large-market teams.
Although appropriate, these tactics were not effective at changing people’s minds about the NHL until its product changes and new marketing strategies began raising the league’s profile amongst casual sports fans.
“The NHL case proves that an organization that experiences a ‘near-death’ crisis can restore its good name in the eyes of the public,” said Jim DiSanza, Idaho State University professor of organizational communication and the study’s lead author, “but that success can only occur if the organization also creates a complete makeover of its product and marketing.”
The study was authored by DiSanza and Nancy Legge, professors of communication at Idaho State University, with two ISU graduate students, H. R. Allen and J. T. Wilde. The article will be published in Repairing the Athlete’s Image, edited by Joseph R. Blaney, Lance R. Lippert, James Scott Smith. The anthology is currently in production at Lexington Books.