How to Revitalize a Franchise following an injury to a star player

 

Damian Lillard hit the series-winning three against the Thunder on Tuesday night. Photo Credits: Sam Forencich

Ok. Maybe I am just hyped off Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three to win the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but this team’s season was supposed to be over after Jusuf Nurkic’s gruesome leg injury.

I was at the game when Nurk got hurt, and although the Blazers won in a double-overtime thriller, the only thing I could think about was next season. So, how did the Trail Blazers use PR to make fans become reinvested in this season?

The Blazers shared positive messages about the injury.

Following the end of the Portland Trail Blazers’ game against the Brooklyn Nets on March 26, 2019, the Blazers posted this positive message on Instagram. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

Having your shin pop through your leg is something that many people do not recover from. But, the Blazers never shared a message that would imply that the injury could be career-ending. Instead, they just shared positive messages that gave the fans hope the Blazers could return to its winning form.

The Blazers did not share updates about the injury.

The Blazers gave fans the latest injury update on March 26, 2019. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

Instead of continuing to share new content about Nurkic’s healing process, the Blazers chose to share minimal content about Nurkic’s injury.

Following his surgery, the Blazers shared on Twitter that the surgery was successful, but other than that, its social media posts did not focus on Nurkic. Instead, posts focused on the active team.

The Blazers connected fans with Nurk.

A screenshot of the online portal to send messages to Nurkic. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

The Blazers’ PR team implemented strategies to allow fans to connect with Nurkic following his injury. In fact, at the next home game following his injury, the Blazers created a 6-foot card and allowed fans to sign it.

Additionally, the team offered an online portal for fans not at the game to send personalized messages to Nurkic.

The Blazers included Nurkic on social.

Following a road trip, the Blazers shared a photo of the team with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum holding up a photo of Nurkic on it. Photo Credits: Trail Blazers

The PR team has made a point to find and share content that includes Nurkic.

Including Nurkic fills the void many fans felt with him off the court, and by seeing the team rally behind Nurkic following his injury, the fans began to rally behind the team. 

 Social media refocused on Enes Kanter.

The Blazers shared a tweet from Blazer reporter Casey Holdahl who dubbed Kanter as, “Turkish Delight.” Photo Credit: Trail Blazers

Instead of focusing on next season, the Trail Blazers’ PR team focused on its current players and got fans invested in the Blazers’ new center Enes Kanter.

By giving Kanter the nickname Turk, very similar to Nurkic’s nickname of Nurk, the Blazers’ PR team gave fans a little replacement until Nurkic can be healthy again.

The Blazers interacted with him on social media.

The Blazers retweeted Nurkic’s reaction to Lillard’s game-winning three. Photo Credit: Trail Blazers

When Nurkic tweeted about the Blazers’ games, the Trail Blazers’ Twitter account quickly retweeted and commented on his posts. By sharing Nurkic’s posts, the Blazers’ PR team showed that although he may not be on the court, Nurkic is an important piece to this team

Nurkic joined the team– and PR capitalized on it.

The Blazers were down by 15 points in the fourth quarter and then in walks Nurkic, rejoining the team for the first time since his injury. The crowd went wild and so did the team as the Blazers went on to beat the Thunder 118-115.

Nurkic waved to the crowd following the Trail Blazers win. Photo Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer (AP)

The crowd at the game cheered louder after seeing his face on the big screen, and PR made it a point to share his appearance on social media, exciting fans around the world about his return and about the possibility of a Blazers comeback. 

It worked, and the Blazers stamped its ticket to the Western Conference Semifinals. Talk about a story.

So, although an injury to a star player may seem like the end of a season, with good PR, it could be just the beginning of an amazing run. 

 

 

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