Social Media, Branding and Crisis Management with an NHL Team

What really goes on behind the scenes in handling social media accounts for big brands and sports teams? Find out about my great experience with the New Jersey Devils and how their branding efforts are top-notch in the sports world. Written by Juliet Rocco

P1100706The phone call: I remember the day I got the phone call from the head of HR offering me the internship. It was early August and I had traveled down from Rochester to interview in New Jersey just a few days prior.

This was something I had wanted so badly, I knew I would get it with my level of determination. Once I hung up the phone, I nearly broke down in tears of joy and couldn’t stop jumping around!

Smiles turn upside down: The talks of the lockout began getting more serious by the end of August and the pressure was mounting on the owners and players to reach some kind of agreement. I was seeing all of this from a frustrated fan’s point of view, and not necessarily a business one. That was going to change soon enough.

I worked in Mission Control from early September through the end of November. Mission Control is the epicenter of all things social media for the Devils and Prudential Center. For each work station, we have 3 monitors plus two TVs that usually aired ESPN or NHL Network. Our office was the envy of all of the other interns.

It was a job that needed constant monitorization and forced me to think more creatively since content was much more limited without any NHL hockey being played, plus we were under strict rules by the NHL of what we were allowed to post about. The scariest moment was definitely hitting the ‘Send’ button on my first Facebook post for the Devils. I probably proofread the copy about 10 times over!

Anger management: Fans used our social media platforms as a virtual punching bag on a daily basis once the lockout began. Of course, I never took any of it personally. Most of them probably didn’t realize that it’s just a few people gathered in a room staring at computer screens all day and generating content, with no control over negotiations (that would have been a nice added perk). We worked hard each day to come up with ways to keep fans engaged and numb them from the pain of the work stoppage.

As a Devils fan and a hockey player, it hurt to watch the days pass and the lockout continue. You could even tell around the office it was a much different environment than just a few months prior when the Devils were fighting for the Stanley Cup.

There’s a storm brewing: Just as we began getting into a groove for creating content, we were faced with a brand new challenge that would end up having an even greater impact on people’s lives. Hurricane Sandy had forced us into a completely new role: crisis management.

A call for help: People were without power for weeks, many suffered far worse with complete devastation of their homes, downed trees and contaminated water. Many people in the office were also personally affected. We began asking for help and crowdsourcing information to relay back to people in need. We told them where they could get water, a hot meal, shower and shelter if they hadn’t already.

We sent our mascot to multiple shelter locations to cook, hand out blankets and bring smiles to kids and stressed out parents. We also established a full page section of our main website that had everything Sandy Relief related. The phrase “Jersey Strong” had become known throughout the country.

devils

Takeaway: The last few weeks of my internship were much different than I had anticipated, but it was in an incredibly rewarding way. A lot of people I talk to tend to feel bad that I didn’t get to see any hockey and get that kind of experience, but I was given an opportunity to reach out to nearly half a million people and help those in need. What could be better than that?

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4 thoughts on “Social Media, Branding and Crisis Management with an NHL Team

  1. buffalomikem says:

    Sounds like a really cool experience, it would be awesome to work for an NHL team.

  2. David says:

    Must’ve been strange to be interning during such a crazy time, with the lockout and Hurricane Sandy. Also, I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Check out this post for more information: http://twentiesblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/liebster-award/

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