It may not be cutting edge, original or high-tech, but perhaps the most transparent and honest approach to offering a genuine apology is the old fashioned letter. At least that’s what the National Hockey League believes after the NHL takes out newspaper ads to say sorry for the delayed season.
After the lockout standoff between league, owners and players finally comes to an end and ice hockey returns this Saturday for the start of a 48-game season (half of a full schedule), the NHL took out full page newspaper ads in 40 of North America’s major media markets to run its ‘sorry’ letter.
It appears in at least one paper in each of the NHL’s 30 team markets, plus a handful of Canada and the USA’s biggest national titles) on Thursday to print its ‘apology letter’.
The organisation and its commissioner Gary Bettman use the latter to say ‘Like you, we’ve missed NHL hockey’, to thank fans for their patience and apologise for lost games.
The full text is as follows:
As your teams prepare for the opening face-off of the 2012-13 season, we thank you for your patience and we apologize to you for the time we missed. From today forward, we will do everything we can to make this season worth the wait.
We are committed to earning back your trust and support the same way it’s earned on the ice: with hard work and unwavering dedication. Your cheers drive us forward, and we’re committed to making you proud to be a fan – by delivering a game with the action, the skill and the intensity you deserve.
Like you, we’ve missed NHL hockey. We’ve missed the clutch goals, the big hits, the electrifying saves. We’ve missed the flash of red light, the sound of the siren and the way the building shakes when the home team scores.
It’s time to focus on the best athletes in the world, on the enduring greatness of the game and – above all – on the connection that binds fans, players and families everywhere. NHL hockey is the best in the world. The future is incredibly bright. So let’s drop the puck and marvel at all the remarkable things the players do with it.
With respect and appreciation,
The National Hockey League.
P.S. We hope you’ll get in on the action. And again, thank you.
This simple letter on a mostly white page, with a silhouette of a crowded arena at the bottom, promises the league will make it up to fans.
It will be fascinating to see just how loyal the NHL’s fans have staid to the league now the season is finally cranking in to gear.
Especially as many fans feel that this was a dispute that could easily have been settled many months ago had both sides been willing to compromise and put the fans first.
The fact that social media is such a powerful platform now provides hockey brands with tools they didn’t have during the last NHL lockout in 2005. For example, the NHL itself has more than 1.6 followers on Twitter and more than 2.6 million “likes” on Facebook, plus 191,000 subscribers to itsYouTube destination. These offer valuable paths to reconnect with fans on a one-to-one basis, to engage via direct involvement and interaction.
Making it all the more surprising that the NHL’s primary ‘fan apology’ path was an old school letter and a traditional newspaper ad buy.
The old fashioned traditional letter may be seen by many to be the most appropriate medium for a sincere apology. Perhaps it is seen as more lasting and heartfelt than the supposedly more transitory nature of other platforms such as social media.
After all, it wasn’t the least sincere apology of the sporting week. That came from Lance Armstrong on the entertainment-led, showbiz-style Oprah TV show.
But surely there is something more the league, the teams and the players can give back to the patient, loyal fans to enhance their experience and reward their loyalty than a printed letter!
Something that might personally enhance their hockey experience perhaps?