I was not able to catch Hockey Night on LI live Saturday with Alex & Steve who did their usual excellent job which featured blog box member Ken Rosenblatt from Islander Outsider who as always did an excellent job as a guest as well as Gary Harding who is the former long-time President of the Islanders booster club and currently the sites webmaster who always does a great job for the fans.
Saturday's program is available on this blog sidebar for those wishing to listen as I did.
They hit on a topic Saturday that is of course part of what NYI Fan Central puts the spotlight on often and that is the marketing of the club around the area as the subject of New York came up.
Let me write straight up I am not suggesting the Islanders do not market to their fans in Nassau or Suffolk or not do events in these areas and I understand the urgency to build the fan base locally. I like the outreach to the fans, appreciate the efforts and have credited them often. I think Mr Dey's approach is a respectful one and it's a good message.
Having written that they need to adjust the strategy because they are limiting themselves which is also hurting their message and options.
As I die hard fan of this team their marketing these days makes me feel like I'm rooting for the wrong team unless I move to Nassau or Suffolk. If I were a fan looking for a hockey team today I would not pick the Islanders because they do not make me feel like a part of this unless I live in Nassau or Suffolk.
Between my mailing list, message board past experiences New York Islander fans are all over the New York market in big numbers and my honest guess is season ticket holders from outside Long Island in the past have made up a big part of the attendance. The transplanted New York Islander fans are in most markets and many are from the glory days.
I do not need to remind everyone how many Islander fans were at CAA for the final game a year ago and what Howie Rose said when Richard Park scored the opening goal.
That was on a day's notice on a holiday folks. Do you really think all those people came from Nassau and Suffolk?
I do not need a bus going into the city if I listened to the program correctly, a caravan or even some of those ads that used to appear on the railroads (This is Islander Country) or even the Islanders featured in a Manhattan electronics store as they were last season. I do not even need the outstanding marketing campaign in the summer of 2001 (We're back) where the club was even advertised during NFL preseason games but I did like that one a lot.
What I need to see is this franchise once again talk itself up again as a New York market franchise and drop the Long Island mantra that comes out of every statement from a member of it's p.r department, every player who says anything and almost everything that is posted on it's website.
It's not working and hurting the marketability of this franchise.
The long-term media damage they are doing to themselves is enormous to a point even the fans have picked up on it and no longer even act like this is a New York market franchise when they discuss it. The papers will not even let the professional writers blog on the team to supplement lack of coverage in the city papers.
When I watched them play on channel nine in the seventies and eighties they seemed as much New York as any other club and they received strong coverage in the city papers and a big part of the fan base came from inside the city limits.
I never watched a game and felt like I do now that I'm rooting for a team in another market. Msg employee Howie Rose makes sure to remind us the team is all Long Island these days more than ever.
My opinion is the city media along the way picked up on it too and did not need much of a reason to cut the coverage down to nothing with limited sports budgets, we already know hockey coverage in the market is already at a record low as baseball owns the backpage.
Anyone think Giants and Jets fans, the media or the television advertisers market the two football teams as New Jersey today? You would be hard pressed to find anyone who even mentions they play in New Jersey anymore that the Nets and Devils have play/played in for over twenty years. When they both relocated you could see the Giants and Jets tread carefully as they changed uniforms or wrote Giants/Jets on the helmets. Today they act is if they play in New York avoid the New Jersey label at all costs.
Does anyone notice or care? The New York media needs football.
The Giants even after not getting the Canyon of Hero's for past superbowl wins finally got their parade in lower Manhattan and a quick ceremony in New Jersey, they write New York on everything and even the telecast calls them New York as if they still play at Yankee Stadium.
I read Mr Botta credit the growing fan support at Msg and CAA/Newark (in his blog this season) and even the city media at times in the past has credited the strong Islander fan support in New York/New Jersey but the organization does not push that in it's releases as it seems like it's an unwritten rule now everything has to read Long Island.
This practice has to end from inside the upper management making marketing decisions.
Where did things change to this degree? Was it hiring a Montauk based firm called Blumenfeld and Fleming here which Newsday's A.J Carter wrote about in July of 2006 with Mr Botta's comments? I know the firm won a MarCom award for an ad campaign regarding the Islanders here but how does it help if you limit your base on fans in practically every press release?
Is it Lighthouse related? I read some of the comments, signed endorsements and many come from outside Long Island. If I read correctly at the recent hearings one person showed up and supported the project from Rockaway. The Islanders are asking for Islander fans support and it does not seem limited to Town of Hempstead residents.
Rob Davison played his first Islander game at Msg in March and was quoted in Newsday as saying when we scored it seemed half the Garden was rooting for the Islanders.
Anyone who thinks this is about the Islanders losing this year I have to give a little reality check to because this goes beyond the ice and speaks to the damage done.
In 1999 the day after Butch Goring was fired, the Islanders played at Msg with nothing to play for, on their way to a 30th place finish and a seventh straight year out of contention. Fair to say it was the low point in the club's history and we know how bad fan support was in those days.
The 3/6/2001 NY Post game article from Larry Brooks who goes out of his way now to run down the Isles as a team as he claims no one in New York follows read as follows:
No, in this 75th anniversary season the Rangers had to go even a step
farther and turn the Garden into Nassau Coliseum Mainland, as the
substantial number of Islander fans, who invaded Manhattan last night,
filled the arena with chants of "Let's Go Islanders!" as their team
whipped the heroic home boys by 5-2.
I was hoping we would have seen more of that at Msg this March and April for those two games the Islanders won. We saw it a lot in 2006-07 and for many years going back to Pierre Turgeon's 50th goal in 1993 where it became painfully obvious the Islanders had a strong New York market presence.
The damage has been done, they are not helping themselves with the Long Island mantra.
Not that hard to change strategy.
We're all New York Islanders.
We need the New York Islanders to win for New York.
New York, New York, every single release.
Who cares if someone in the media is critical, that's more attention for the New York Islanders and a chance to tell their fans everywhere they are put of this.
That's how you gain support and media coverage.