Crack Staff

By Corey

Really, what was the point? I ask this with no credentials in public relations or business management. Maybe there is something in those schools, maybe there is a class Larry Quinn took that I didn’t, but for the life of me I can’t see the point of this.

The hockey News writes a story saying that Terrence Pegula has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Buffalo Sabres for about $150 million. Quinn replies that no letter of intent has been signed and that the figure for $150 million is inaccurate. Here are the exact points of contention.

First the original story from Ken Campbell.

THN.com has learned that billionaire Terry Pegula has signed a letter of intent to buy the Buffalo Sabres from Tom Golisano for about $150 million.

Pegula is the founder and CEO of East Resources, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States. A graduate of Penn State University, he and his wife, Kim, recently donated $88 million to the school to help fund a new arena and establish a Division I hockey program.

Here is text of a statement made by the Buffalo Sabres in reply.

Reports regarding the sale of the Buffalo Sabres tend to surface from time to time. There have been several inquiries in the past few years regarding this subject. Our company policy is we do not comment on them because people make inquiries all the time. Some of these inquiries are serious, some are not, some make the media and others do not. The report that a $150 million letter of intent has been signed is simply not true.

First, what needs to be noted is that of the 78 words used in the Sabres release, only 16 have any value at all. All the Sabres really needed to say was the last sentence, and leave it at that. Instead the opportunity is taken to opine about exactly nothing. 62 words are used to comment about not commenting. Why would you even lay out a policy of not commenting when you are about to comment. What are you doing? Does anyone stop to think? Do you want to tell me Bass Pro is still an option, too? (Low blow, I know, but it is topical.)

The Hockey News naturally stuck to their guns.

So in essence:

Hockey News: Pegula signs letter to buy Sabres for $150 million.
Sabres: Not true.
Hockey News: You’ll be sold by January.

I want to know what the point of denying this at all is. You can’t defuse a bomb that has already exploded. The Sabres are chasing the story of their own sale here. I have to think that as a PR person you would rather be ahead of a story, controlling the path of the discussion about the team and its future.

The Sabres have shown a lack of ability in this department before. Things blow up on them, and they are left searching for answers. Tim Kennedy left and people got angry over a fifth line player, but a lot of that anger could have been avoided with proper press management. The Sabres come out and say that there will be significant changes to the structure of the team after a playoff power outage against Boston, and then back away from the point later, leaving people confused and disappointed. The team is rumored for sale, and yet when the press asks the players it is the first they hear of the story. Did anyone maybe want to tell the guys that they might be asked about it? No one could pop into the locker room and say “Oh, hey, by the way, we might be sold and the press will ask you about it. You guys don’t know anything, so no harm in telling the truth. Good luck!”?

Look, we know Pegula and Tom Golisano are talking. Pegula might even be introduced to the Board of Governors by next week. Why even pretend? What do you get out of that press release, a statement that whines about a policy that its very existence is violating?

What would have happened had the Sabres have written something like this?

“Tom Golisano is committed to keeping the team in Buffalo, and its security in the region is non-negotiable in all possible discussions for a future sale. Mr Golisano is also committed to receiving fair market value for his investment in the franchise.

The Sabres are currently in the very early stages of negotiations with an interested party, but nothing is settled or confirmed. Each negotiation has its own timeframe, and no deadlines have been set artificial or otherwise. As soon as there is any progress, details will be made available.

We understand the importance of this story and the importance of the security and financial stability of the team to its fans and the community. Mr. Golisano is committed to maintaining that security in all of his actions.”

Yes we’re talking. No nothing is settled. We know this is important to you, fans. Don’t worry we will sell to someone who has the best interests of Buffalo in mind. Done.

What are the potential problems with admitting what everyone already knows?

It could fuel speculation!
WE ARE SPECULATING.

It continues the story!
YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OF THAT EITHER WAY. WE ARE SPECULATING.

But the initial report had errors! The price hasn’t been set! Nothing is ready!
THEN SAY IT.

Try a little honesty for once. Your fans might actually appreciate that you respect their intelligence. Remember, press releases don’t just peak to the press, but to everyone. I can see through the crap you wrote in that release. Try writing something your fans can respect.

If this deal does go down, and there is no guarantee of this, the first thing Pegula needs to do is get some help in the PR office.

2 Comments

  1. Jay

    Here’s the thing — the Sabres have been awful at PR for DECADES. They have gotten this kind of stuff, big or small, wrong more times than right since the Knox family owned the operation.

    It’s in the bloody franchise’s DNA.

    But what they’re doing is no different than what ANY business would do when a major change is coming down. Be it ownership changes, layoffs, etc., they all follow the same playbook:

    Deny, deny, deny. “We know nothing about that.”

    Also , the 1st thing Pegula needs to do, is listen to the Sabre fan in him, and realize that Larry Quinn has to exit, stage right. To keep him in place simply invites status quo – meaning more Darcy Regier for years to come, meaning no closer to a Stanley Cup ever. If Quinn’s fate is a sticking point for Golisano to sell, good Lord we are in trouble.

  2. Jon

    *Slow clap*

    Nicely done.

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  1. By » The End Of An Era Hockey Rhetoric January 24, 2013 at 4:02 PM