Frank Luntz and the Mind of the NHL Fan - Page 2
Another reason to win the PR war is to raise the comfort level among allies. In the case of the NHL, that would be the teams, sponsors and broadcast partners. A strong, logical message communicated through the media will help to appease these critical audiences – for a while.
As for the damage the leak has caused the NHL and commissioner Bettman, remains to be seen. However, the NHLPA is most assuredly reviewing the focus group materials very closely. In particular a mock speech in which Luntz, acting as an NHL executive, apparently tested a consolatory message, saying, “Maybe we asked for too much at first, but we're willing to give. The NHLPA has to be willing to give as well, if we're going to give the fans back their hockey. There's no way we're going to do this without both sides bringing something to the table." This may be the blood in the water the NHLPA needs to be even more aggressive at the negotiating table.
Virtually every client worries about research data being leaked but it rarely happens. I have participated in many focus groups in the same Bethesda, Md facility as Luntz held his NHL discussions. I’ve held focus groups there on everything from healthcare issues to transportation taxes without negative fallout. However, this instance was an exception and raises the question as to whether Luntz made a tactical error by holding this particular session so close to Washington, D.C., a politically savvy market where Luntz is recognizable and where hockey fans are passionate.
Another lesson learned is the accessibility of cell phone cameras during the focus group. How didn’t Luntz or someone from his team see that the documents were being photographed? I suspect going forward that Luntz and other pollsters may ask that cell phones remain turned off and kept out of sight during focus group sessions.