This week's big question: - When the NBA settles its labor problems, what should the PR team do to revive its image?
Bob Oltmanns- Skutski & Oltmanns
The NBA's image problems go far beyond the current labor dispute, which many Americans have met with indifference and apathy. The NHL, NFL, and Major League Baseball have shown that the best way to rebuild an image after a bitter labor dispute is to offer a product that the fans will pay to see. Banish players for criminal conduct. Hold the line on ticket prices. And keeping Michael Jordan in an NBA uniform certainly wouldn't hurt, either!
Peggy Cummings - Carter Ryley Thomas
Like football and baseball, the primary concern of the NBA owners and players should be to reinvigorate fan loyalty, despite the overriding 'greed' factor that these negotiations have raised. However, unlike baseball and football, media reporting about the strike has not been antagonistic, and fan hostility appears minimal. Rather, media reports have centered upon how the NBA season's delay has gone largely unnoticed by the fans.
So, the NBA may be faced with fan apathy - at least until ticket prices rise. To combat this, the union should encourage players to reach out through various community programs, while the league/owners place greater emphasis on community impact and entertainment value.
Lou Capozzi - Manning, Selvage & Lee
NBA owners may have to go to their banks to finance the players' demands, but there's another bank visit they need to make - to the 'bank of goodwill'.
Over the last several years, the NBA built a brand equity that is the envy of professional sports. Now it's time to lean on that brand to rebuild their relationship with the fans.
That's going to require a unified effort by the owners, players and league management. They need to take a lesson from the politicians who, after the election is over, work on unity and reassurance. They should reach out to the fans, reinforce their solid brand equity and unify behind a common message: 'the past is behind us, let's look forward to the exciting season ahead.'
Paul Fitzhenry - Pharmacia & Upjohn
In the minds of basketball fans and foes, the NBA strike is all about greed. If the league and its players ever reach a truce, repairing the image of the game will take time. Advice to the league: forget about quick fixes and take a page from baseball's playbook. Win people back to the game with exciting play, good sportsmanship and high drama of the kind we saw with this summer's home run record chase.