While I am having the time of my life as an inaugural member of the NY Islanders Blog Box (sponsored by Hockeybuzz) it greatly concerned me yesterday when I heard Mr. Bettman say on his NHL Hour XM radio show that the NHL would set guidelines for Team sponsored Bloggers next season.
GASP!! I almost spit my tea at my keyboard at work when those words came through the headset I use to listen to all things Hockey during work hours.
GUIDELINES? What SORT of GUIDELINES? Will I, and my “unique perspectives,” fit the bill? “All Bloggers are NOT created equal.” Mr. Bettman went on to say with complete realization that the Blogosphere is an important part of the NHL marketing plan. While the “real” media coverage may be waning, the internet is clogged with blogs, many of them on the NHL. Perhaps born of necessity, blogs are now seamlessly integrated into the fabric of information dissemination.
So what sort of guidelines might the NHL propose? I’d suggest that the league speak with NY Islanders VP of Media, Chris Botta, as he should be applauded for what he has been able to accomplish this season with the Blog Box experiment.
Maybe it was the criteria the Islanders used to chose the panel they have. Maybe it’s the ground rules they laid at the beginning of the season regarding our conduct. But I can tell you six months into what could have been a media disaster, it is actually a well tuned media machine. There is great respect and actual friendships in a group of diverse individuals whose only common thread is spreading the word about the NY Islanders. We are never dictated to as to what that word should be, but given the leeway to express our own opinions and observations.
Certainly, in the first few weeks, the PR staff kept a careful eye on our group making sure that our behavior was appropriate. But once they realized we were happy to play by the rules, we just became part of crew.
Just so you know, as this seems to be a sticky point in many articles I read about “team” bloggers, one of the RULES was NEVER that we couldn’t wear jerseys in the press room. So to all of the NON-sanctioned bloggers and “real” media people out there who like to point out that event as if it were a dirty diaper, GET OVER IT! If I want to wear my Islander jersey in the Blog Box or even in the press room, I’m going to. No one is paying me to do this, I do not have to be a neutral observer; I’m there for my team.
Ok, that said, I can only hope that the guidelines are strictly that: GUIDES and not mandates that will limit our access or functionality. But knowing that Mr. Bettman has a clear cut understanding of how important the bloggers are to this business, I’m almost certain they should only make the experience better.
As long as the NHLPA isn’t asked to give their opinion because then I’m sure we’ll be stationed in the parking lot and not the press room.