Washington Redskins rookie won his first victory as a starting quarterback this past Sunday while also starting the first selfie-gate of the NFL. Dwayne Haskins missed the final snap of the game against the Detroit Lions since he was taking a selfie with a fan in the stands. While neither Haskins nor interim coach, Bill Callahan seemed to be bothered by the distraction, former player Joe Theismann was angered by the news. Theismann, who is a Redskins former quarterback, gave Haskins his blessing to wear the number 7 jersey which hasn’t been used since Theismann retired in 1985. Theismann tweeted:
Even a minute thing such as missing a play for a selfie can affect the public perception of a professional sports team. While there are many ways for a sports team to boost ticket and revenue sales, bad publicity towards one of its players does not aid in this aspect. Even though professional teams are made up of many players, the individual athletes have an influence on the fans of the team. Meaning that if one player creates even the smallest scandal, it can affect the teams merchandise revenue and ticket sales. In times of bad publicity, the best thing a team or player can do it understand how important is it to properly deal with scandals in regards to public perception. According to an article from NYU, “understanding how valuable sincerity is with the public is crucial if you want to maintain a positive and long-term relationship with your audience”.
Although, some disagree and believe that these types of scandals can actually be an opportunity to help market the team. In an article written by Jason Mazanov, he states that “scandal and corruption have an influence on marketing and sponsorship in sports…the relationship is by no means a negative one…scandal and corruption in sport provide opportunities for marketing and sponsorship”. Whether you agree or disagree with the concept, both good and bad publicity bring attention to a team, it depends on the team itself and their PR rep to decide how to handle the situation.
Even though there are so many different factors that affect revenue for a team, we at MA+A Sports believe that pushing ticket sales can aid in the instance of bad publicity towards a team and make up for the potential drop in overall sales. Having a sound digital strategy can increase and maintain ticket sales durings times of bad publicity for teams.
Here are three things we suggest to aid in publicity towards sport teams:
Using tactics such as using Facebook ads to promote positive sentiment towards a team and also promoting tickets for their upcoming games will not override the negative publicity previously generated, but may assist ultimately with increasing attendance at games.
Additionally, having a strong social presence can increase the teams perception with followers. Tools such as Hootsuite and Awario can be used for social listening to single out information on social media to see how fans are responding to the teams and players actions. Developing specific creative and copy based on the feedback and social sentiment can help assist the overall perception.
Lastly, pushing the negative publicity lower down on the search engine result page (SERP) by using pay per click tactics is a great way to control the top search results.