Just last week the National Hockey League announced it’s new policy that will regulate how players, coaches and other league stakeholders will use social media. Because of the complexity of professional sports and all the speculation riding on each game, the NHL has implemented some strict new rules within this policy that will allow them to better control things from within the organization.
One of the most-talked about updates is the implementation of the “social media blackout.” This period will take place from two hours before game time until all post-game interviews are completed. This means that all NHL affiliates won’t be allowed to post on any social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, whether it’s about hockey or not. This blackout period may seem strange and unnecessary but in reality it’s very similar to quiet periods that companies must adhere to around financial announcements etc. The NHL is taking this policy very seriously. Last year multiple players and franchise personnel were fined for tweeting during blackout periods.
The document states that players will be held accountable for posts they make on social networks to a similar standard that they would be for any other public statement. The premise behind the policy is to prevent players from putting their teams at a disadvantage or trying to win an advantage with information that’s false. It also prevents people that are betting on the game from receiving any non-approved information that could contradict the NHL’s league rules.
Traditional media outlets are no doubt happy about these changes because this gives them the advantage. It allows them to pick up the stories before they get broadcasted digitally on platforms like Twitter so expect to see a change in how/when information is shared online.
The implementation of this policy will no doubt make for a difficult transition but there is a lesson here for business of all sizes. It’s important to implement a social media policy so your employees are clear on the guidelines and the consequences should they choose to stray from those guidelines. It’s an easy way to keep everyone on track and eliminate any possible confusion. If things are laid out clearly from the beginning, there are no excuses in the long run for misconduct. Take the necessary steps to ensure your company is protected. The information is available, you just need to find it. Take time to research policies and best practices and compile something that works for your business. In the long run it’s all about creating a policy that suits your needs and can grow with your business in the future.