When the publications linking Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick with alleged illegal dog fighting exploded in the media it wasn’t much of a surprise that, in the age of players standing out as culture heroes and role models, the issue will have negative implications for Vick’s reputation.
But the big question for sports industry crisis management professionals was to what extent this will have collateral effects on his team and the National Football League as a whole!
1ST2C, an online CGM research and consulting company and home of Online Strategizing Research©, looked at this case study as an opportunity to better understand the dynamics of crisis detection and crisis management in the networked market reality.
1st2c analysts followed up on online resonance across Internet’s communities on the affair before, during and after the strom’s eye.
Volume of Mind-Sharing Posts on “Key Players”
in The Michael Vick Dog Fighting Affaire
Consumer mind sharing activity points very clearly at a highly alert and responsive broad fan base.
Mind-sharing volumes surging far beyond “regular” levels are a clear indication of an “Alert situation” in 1st2c methodology, especially as higher-than-normal levels maintained over a week-long period. However, level of resonance gradually decreased after the first days indicating the loss of crisis momentum (for reasons subject to a different analysis).
As for the issue of “collateral damage” to Atlanta Falcons and the NFL.
Interestingly, while the NFL was “dragged” into the public discussion Atlanta Falcons were much less a “side to the issue” in terms of volume of talk “shadowing” that of Michael Vick’s.
Analyzing mind-sharing on the issue revealed a critical insight on consumer psychology (or rather fan psychology).
It appears that involved fans were separating between “personal moral” and “sports moral”. While the episode stirred controversy on the personal moral level it was not perceived as indicative of the team’s culture of sportsmanship. Actually, the Atlanta Falcons were perceived as victims of the situation rather than having anything to do with its facilitation. This psychological “framing” of the situation not only shielded the Falcons from snowballing popular resentment but also encouraged their fan core to “spring to their defense”.
As for the NFL, it’s visibility was associated with it’s proactive management of the situation and the affair’s overall development (like Nike’s endorsement suspension). Like in the case of the Falcons, the NFL too was not “held blame” for the happenings.
As for Nike’s part, that’s a subject to different analysis.
Crisis management insights
1. “VICTIM FRAMING” IS A POWERFUL THREAT NEUTRALIZER
2. DETACHMENT FROM CORE INTEREST (FOOTBALL) HELPS AVOID “CONSPIRACY THEORIES”
3. PROACTIVE MEDIA RELATIONS INITIATIVES MAY CREATE ATTENTION BUT SUCH ATTENTION WILL NOT “AUTOMATICALLY” CARRY ADVERSE LINKAGE (i.e. A CRISIS SITUATION IS AN EMPOWERMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR VICTIMS)
1st2c will continue to monitor the market and provide insights for better understanding and engagement of the networked market©.
1st2c in a nutshell
1st2c was established in late 2004 as a full service Consumer Media research and strategy powerhouse by internet and brand strategy veterans with extensive international experience.
1st2c is a forerunner of the Online Strategizing Research©. This strategic planning driven research provides vivid market pictures, in-depth understanding of market dynamics and seamless transfer of insights and opportunities to actionables.
1st2c works with Fortune 500 companies on adding new dimensions to overall marketing strategy and on monitoring and engaging the networked market.
Chief Research & Client Officer