Wednesday, February 4, 2009

5Qs on SM: NHL's Mike Dilorenzo

I am going to be running a “five questions on social media” column from time to time on this blog. The idea is simple - pose five questions regarding social media as it relates to that person's role in their organization.

The idea here is to interview a cross section of professionals from a variety of industries and try to find common threads, best practices, insights, etc. for social media.

The inaugural 5Q on SM post is with Mike Dilorenzo, Director of Corporate Communications for the National Hockey League.

TBG: The NHL has made great strides in engaging fans over the past few years. With the explosion of social media, especially for consumer-facing brands, what role do you think SM will play in that engagement?

Mike: Social Media will become another important tool in the toolbox when it comes to listening to and engaging fans - a "CRM" application, if you will. There are several reasons that I am betting on Social Media as a CRM strategy. First, it's like a virtual suggestion box. Where else can you find in one place a few dozen - if not many more - consumers publicly talking about your brand, good bad or indifferent? Second, there's immediacy. In seconds, I can be reading a fan's idea and be corresponding with him. Third, it's a great place to get instant consumer feedback on an idea.

TBG: While you are not officially blogging or twitter for the NHL, what rules of engagement do you follow (by rule or self-directed)?

Mike: No matter where and how I communicate, my professional role is to position the League favorably in the hearts and minds of fans and media. So, I suppose that's my one Golden Rule. Sometimes that means posting a link to a press release. Sometimes it means listening to a fan complaint or tending to a customer service issue, and hopefully creating some goodwill by hearing people out. And I am also hopeful that our mere presence in the Social Media ecosystem will reinforce that the League is working to innovate. I am still quite new to all of this, though, so other "rules" I am figuring out as I go. For example, I am trying to do a better job responding to every single message I get. Where it's reasonable, I also try to communicate in the first person (for example, my trip to Chicago for the NHL Winter Classic). It's really a great question, though, because the most compelling blogs and Tweets often have a healthy dose of personality.

TBG: What are the real opportunities for the NHL and social media? How can it be fused with traditional marketing and PR?

Mike: I covered this very question in a blog post called, "My Two Cents On
," where I position Social Media as more of a CRM tool than a traditional PR program. I think a smartly executed Social Media plan will supplement the use of traditional PR and marketing as primary conduits to the consumer. Of course, there are smarter, more experience Social Media mavens who know even more than me; and I am seeking their opinions.

TBG: The Winter Classic was a fantastic event. The media coverage was abundant and the social media coverage probably out-paced the traditional media coverage (at least on twitter). What professional lessons did you learn from your role at the Winter Classic and how do you think the NHL can utilize SM better to promote events like the Winter Classic and the All-Star game?

Mike: The NHL Winter Classic was a really fun and informative personal experience for me vis a vis Social Media. Before the game, I was able to guage the interest level and plans of other fans, and it got me excited to hear from so many people that were looking forward to the game. I suppose it should not have been such an unexpected outcome, but I still found it energizing. And when I got out to Chicago and was Tweeting my firsthand experience (especially photosof places at Wrigley Field most fans couldn't get to or see), the lightbulb went off for me - that keeping it first person and authentic is a really critical component to engaging. Moving forward at our special events, I can make a good case for "grassroots" efforts like those, and I intend to keep bringing my iPhone with me so can take fans to places they couldn't get to otherwise.

TBG: What plans can you share about the future social media plans of the NHL? What can fans look forward to in the coming months, especially with the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the distant horizon?

Mike: In terms of 3rd-party social media, I think we'll continue to improve as we learn, listen and engage more. I'd like to use some of these platforms to build greater fan activation at our events - trading deadline, NBC Game of the Week, playoffs, etc. Which is a perfect segue to say I'd love to see more players using Twitter to engage with the fans. I think the fact that the Capitals worked with us to get Alexander Ovechkin Tweeting for the NHL All-Star Game was amazing. In less than two weeks he attracted almost 2,000 followers.

Thanks to Mike for playing along. For those puck fans or social media geeks who want to connect with Mike, check him out on Twitter.


Damian Rintelmann said...


Michael is definitely right that not only in the social media space but in sports they want someone to connect with. He and others like Shannon Paul did a great job during the Winter Classic and All Star game to really put on a great behind the scenes show.

So the more human the NHL can be, and show them areas of the organizations they wouldn't regularly see the more engaged they will be.

Great post Don! Keep em comin'

Don Martelli said...

Thanks D. Looking at the other sports teams in town, some clients, other social media types as well as some influencers in town. we'll see how it goes. Going to try and fuse this stuff in to the PR Finish Line too.

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