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NFL and Branding Injuries Suck!

NFL and Branding Injuries Suck!

As a Denver Broncos fan, I am a Mile High after the recent playoff win against a scrappy San Diego Chargers team. However, the Broncos sustained another major injury to a starting player. The defense will be further weakened as they head into a showdown against the pass-happy New England Patriots without shutdown cornerback Chris Harris Jr. And that brings us to today’s topic: NFL and Branding Injuries Suck!

To date, the Broncos have lost a shutdown cornerback (Chris Harris Jr), one of the most disruptive defenders in the NFL (Von Miller), a big hitter in the secondary (Rahim Moore) two emerging run stoppers (Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe), and a franchise left tackle (Ryan Clady) to season ending injuries or illnesses. Let’s discuss steps and strategies that the Broncos are doing with their players – and that YOU can do with your brand – when responding to injuries.

1. Properly Diagnose and Treat

When players go down clutching their knees, or they encounter violent collisions to the head, the trainers go out on the field to make quick assessments. Does the knee still have stability, and it’s just a sprain or hyperextension? Is the player just dazed, or did they sustain a concussion? Accurately assessing the severity of the injury, or noting that additional triage is necessary, is critical to the long-term health of the player.

Brands should go through the same diagnostic process when sustaining a possible injury to their brand reputation. Was this an isolated bad customer experience, or are there enough cases to indicate a systemic product or service failure? Active social listening can find the injurious conversations while they are still relatively minor and before they destabilize your brand. A cross-functional team can then triage the issue to determine the best treatment plans – courteous and competent responses to individual customers, product recalls, service restorations, or enhancements to products and services offerings.

2. May Need to Get Creative

A big cliche in today’s high-impact, team sports is “next man up”. When one of the starters goes down with an injury, then the next person on the depth chart is supposed to step up and fill that role. However, there is a reason why the person was second on the depth chart: they were not as strong or as talented as the starter! NFL teams may adjust their strategy to play to the strengths of the new role player, or they may augment the player’s efforts with double-teams, or they may apply gimmicks like new blitz packages.

When your brand goes into crisis mode, you may need to double-team or blitz the crisis. That means you need to have more than one person who is familiar with your digital communications policies and escalation procedures. But keep this in mind: that resource already had responsibilities within your organization. If you reallocate the resource, be prepared to “mind the gap” when other deliverables and responsibilities start falling off the table.

3. Monitor Rehab

Getting back to the originally injured player, the team wants to monitor the rehabilitation process to see when it is safe to put that player back on the field. This could be going through a short-term concussion protocol or longer-term surgery and physical therapy. The goal is to get that player SAFELY back on the field versus rushing them back and risking re-injury (which is detrimental to both the player and the team).

Even after the initial crisis is averted, brands still want to actively monitor social channels, review sites, and blogs to keep tabs on the brand’s reputation. In addition to supporting individual engagement and capturing brand mentions, monitoring solutions like Pulse Analytics also break each social channel tweet/status update, product/service review, and blog post into component topics and concepts. Brands can then keep track of what’s important to consumers – how they felt (sentiment analysis) when they made those status updates – and which consumers are stepping up as influencers in the discussion.

The Denver Broncos will adopt the “next man up” philosophy against the New England Patriots this weekend, and I expect to see plenty of blitzes as well as the Broncos offense simply trying to outscore the Patriots offense “straight up”. They will constantly monitor their execution of that strategy, and they will monitor the rehab of their injured players.

How will you handle brand injuries? Do you have a “next man up”? Do you have an active social listening strategy, using an enterprise social monitoring tool, to monitor for brand injuries as well as the effects of brand rehab? If you do not, maybe it is time to do a strategy triage…and I would be happy to help you!

Photo Credit: Elvis Kennedy PhotoStream on Flickr.

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and now grandsons! I am blessed in that I also love my job as a VP of Enterprise Solutions for ProKarma. I appreciate the convergence of big data and data visualization in our Pulse Analytics social listening and analytics platform as well as our core software / mobile app development, business intelligence, and test automation services. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin. You can find Brian on .

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