NHL and CBS News: Looking For Better, Hard-Hitting Hockey And News

The NHL and CBS News need better company images--and yesterday both took steps to improve that look to fans and viewers. Different strokes for different folks: News organizations such as CBS won't be hiring a marketing firm to jazz up their image. That doesn't play to hardcore news viewers. Similarly, a hard-hitting sports league, such as the NHL, doesn't hire an ombudsman to point out where league executives went wrong in handling their business and labor issues.

The NHL is hiring Conductor, a West Coast entertainment boutique that works on TV commercials and one-sheets for theatrical movies. Poor image problems for the NHL resulted from the 2004-05 labor lockout, and led to the cancellation of the entire hockey season. Fans don't look kindly at a league that misses an entire season because of money issues.

The NHL says it needs a big splash, a big event--especially for TV viewers, now that it has a new cable partner Comcast's OLN network. The Hollywood Reporter says the league's standard marketing agencies, as well as its in-house creative marketing resources, just can't do the job.



CBS News also needs to send a message to viewers--that it can be objective when it comes to reporting the news, making sure it does its due diligence so that blunders like the Texas Air National Guard and President Bush story doesn't happen again.

CBS hired Vaughn Ververs of "The Hotline" to report and write "Public Eye," a blog that will go behind the scenes at CBS News, acting as an ombudsman for viewers and news junkies. Interestingly, Ververs will report to CBS Digital Media head Larry Kramer--not CBS News President Andrew Heyward. All that so Ververs can speak his mind.. Heyward welcomes the raw input, and any straightforward criticism--so much so that he calls Ververs a 'nonbudsman.'

What's really necessary is more of a blend between what the NHL and CBS News are doing.

CBS News could use some better marketing to its viewers, to let them know how straight up its reporting will now be. The NHL needs to have a critic who can point out when it makes bone-headed plays--on and off the ice.

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