Sports Public Relations at the National Hockey League with Bernadette Mansur


This is a really interesting conversation I had with Bernadette Mansur about Sports PR at the NHL, the fan base, and the digital distribution of games direct to viewers.

Bernadette Mansur is the senior vice president of communications for the National Hockey League and the executive director of the NHL Foundation. Mansur previously was vice president of communications for Reebok.

Sports PR Insights

4:16 – Bernadette Mansur talks about what it’s like coming back the first year after the strike: “The fans throughout were incredibly loyal…they understand that the economics of our situation was broken and we needed to fix them.”

5:58 – Mansur on the challenges she faced during the strike and the lessons she learned: “Our ability to communicate was instant…the media tension is so intense that stories are created that many times have no basis in fact…you need to be very very fast.”

8:56 – Mansur on whether she is responsible for the content on the NHL website: “Collective bargaining agreement is a very technical legal exercise…sometimes the public relations department and the legal department don’t always work together…this exercise for us in the NHL was a perfect partnership of public relations and legal…”

10:40 – Mansur talks about the NHL fans and monitors fan blogs. “When the lockout began the amount of blogs and fan blogs that came up were enormous…in order for us to understand what they [the fans] wanted out of the negotiations…we had to keep in touch with the blogs, and we did.”

12:15 – Mansur on the legal challenges involved with having the NHL website link to different blogs and sites at the time of the collective bargaining agreement.

13:19 – Mansur talks about the complaints of Martha Burk, the chair of the National Council of Women’s Organization, against an NHL ad launched in September: “Martha’s attention caused the ad to show up every place…in many ways as a PR person it was the best thing that ever happened to us.”

15:10 – Mansur on whether the complaints affected the overall success of the ad campaign.

15:25 – Mansur mentions the percentage of female hockey fans.

16:06 – Mansur discusses the NHL foundation and its role in the overall communications strategy for the league: “We have in the NHL and hockey tradition a very deep seeded root in the community…we’re very much into children, we’re into literacy, we’re into cancer research…”

18:08 – Mansur offers advice for marketing and communications executives who would like to partner with the NHL for promotional activities.

19:16 – Mansur advises young people who want a career at a sports PR firm.

21:10 – Mansur talks about whether the day will come when the NHL will deliver games to viewers over the internet.

22:37 – End.

Photo by Seth Hoffman on Unsplash

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