Emotions are a funny thing, as they can sway someone love or hate an organization. People can tend to associate Holidays, natural disasters, taglines, teams, public figures, colors, etc. with various emotions depending on an array of factors. For example, I liked the Denver Broncos when I was a kid because I thought they were cool for having the same colors as the University of Virginia Football Team. Christmas is exciting for obvious reasons. I associate snow storms with school being cancelled. Veterans Day is special to me because I absolutely love our nation. While I don’t necessarily support war, I will always support our troops. My father served in Vietnam as part of the special forces, my Grandfather was in the Marines, one of my sisters and her husband both continue to serve in the Army after graduating from West Point, and my other brother in law is a JAG in the Marines. It’s fairly obvious that life is a compilation of emotional things and events. Sports in themselves are very emotional, so when you combine them with major causes or events, the emotional factor skyrockets.
ESPN is a medium that provokes emotions out of people that few other sports networks can. Thousands of eyes watch the every move of the NFL, NBA, MLB, or anything on ESPN- not in a creepy way, but in an informational-seeking way. So when the organizations twitter handles, facebook pages, or websites make a move that may provoke emotions, it probably won’t go unnoticed. What this leaves is an opportunity for sports organizations to tap into people’s emotional rollercoaster and draw them into a forming an emotional tie between a fan with the respective team or athlete.
Thanks to behind the scenes work of public relations professionals who get the ball rolling on forming the emotional ties, spectators then tend to shed tears, get chills down their spine, or applaud in response to those efforts. When the various Holidays are celebrated during the year, I find it kind of interesting to see how the various sports organizations respond to or celebrate the event.
Veterans Day is a great example of an opportunity for sports organizations, such as the NFL, to enhance the emotional gameday experience while thanking those who serve in our military. The NFL can use their name and reputation to get messages across to fans and other stakeholders. Two of the biggest messages I’ve noticed are spreading breast cancer awareness and highlighting the appreciation to our military. Social media is one of the tools that public relations professionals use to communicate messages during emotional times, whether good or bad. It allows for our generation to simply look on twitter or facebook to form opinions on such events. This “power” and influence, however, can work negatively against an organizations efforts if not handled correctly.
“Companies need to approach their social media efforts carefully—at all times, though especially during a disaster when emotions are running high,” says Michael Sebastian in his article written in response to Hurricane Sandy. From what I can tell, the NFL handled Sandy pretty well, as no obscure posts pertaining to the event on twitter sparked conversation. In regards to Veterans Day, the NFL is continuing its tasteful social media efforts while doing its annual Salute To Service campaign. This emotional event hits home to many, as a lot of folks know a loved one that is currently serving or has served in the past. Putting on this campaign in a tasteful manner is extremely important in maintaining the NFL’s brand, and from what I can tell, it’s doing a good job of it thus far.