The New Age of Marketing & The NHL

An interesting article from the Washington Post came up this morning that has me thinking about the way that marketing in the NHL is changing (or at least should change). Tarik El-Bashir (Caps beat writer I’ve met on a couple of occassions this past season…most recently he was sitting in front of me at the NHL Awards) did a great article on how the Washington Capitals are taking the FAKE out of Twitter and having all of their players create their own Twitter accounts CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE STORY.

This is a great idea. It allows for fans to connect to the players and the NHL in a better way. Several players in the NHL have already realized the power of Twitter. Kevin Weekes, Steve Sullivan, Mike Green, Martin Havlat and Patrik Elias have all jumped ahead of the game and got their own Twitter accounts where they occassionally tweet.

In all honesty, seeing a player tweet sends a happy giddy feeling throughout a fan’s entire body that makes them love that player even more. It’s an excellent marketing tool. It makes fans feel more appreciated and ‘cooler’ than their non-tweeter fanmates. Even more cooler if the player sends that fan an @ message…even if it is just a Thank You. That fan will be talking about it for weeks and telling everybody…SUCH AND SUCH responded to me on Twitter!

Trust me, it’s a brilliant marketing tool that costs the NHL $0 to get their players to not only market themselves, but the game as well.

Of course, there are rules of engagement when it comes to players acting on behalf of their team and themselves when it comes to Tweeting. It’s just common sense.

As Tarik mentions, getting Shaquille O’Neal to start tweeting was a brilliant move for his career. It’s free marketing. His account is VERIFIED.

Even the celebrities with verified accounts like Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Soleil Moon Frye, Paula Abdul, Demi & Ashton, and my personal favorite Kevin Smith (a New Jersey Devils fan through and through) all make the Twitterverse more interesting. It allows for fans and celebrities to connect with each other. It also allows the celebrity tweeting to control what news they want about themselves to be out there.

Martin Havlat tweeting about his distaste for what was going on in Blackhawks territory had us all talking.

Paula Abdul announcing she had left American Idol (and her thoughts on Ellen replacing her) had everyone talking.

They didn’t have to pay someone, call someone up to say “I want to do an interview,” they didn’t even have to talk to their agents about it. They provided the news to us in less than 140 characters.

It wasn’t a he said she said scenario. They said exactly what they wanted to say, and then the media picked up on it. That 140 characters that anyone uses to say whatever they need to say…becomes the NEWS…and it gets out there faster than it takes a writer such as myself to report the news. It also helps squash the rumors immediately.

Twitter has become THE NEWS.

Mind you, just like Myspace and Facebook, there are a lot of fakes out there. The Washington Capitals move to have all of their players create Twitter accounts to even just say Hello to the fans is a brilliant move in promoting the players, the games, and getting rid of all of the FAKES out there.

I just hope the other 29 teams in the league follow suit.

This is a new era that is quickly growing…the Twitter age. It is quickly burying Myspace and Facebook into early graves. It would be smart for every sports team to jump on the Twitter news bandwagon.

Speaking of Twitter news…I would also like to congratulate Kevin Weekes (again) on joining Hockey Night In Canada. That news was released this morning and Weekes probably had a Twitter inbox full of congratulations from fans and media folk alike.

Welcome to my side of the fence, Kevin. ;) I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the other thing you’re hoping for comes true, too. It can happen. As I’ve learned from the Devils (especially Patrik Elias), one of their most important mantras is “Remain positive.”

Speaking of Patrik Elias (going into Devils news now)…Elias is out for the next 3-6 weeks after he underwent surgery today to break up scar tissue in his groin. Why everyone is jumping on the TRADE bandwagon is a little premature. Pre-season started today. Based on that rehab schedule, Patty should be back on the ice by the time I’m back from Greece NEXT MONTH.

Devils went through injury hell at the beginning of last season and still finished #1 in the Atlantic Division. As Brendan Shanahan pointed out at the end of the 2008-2009 season…the Devils became #1 the second he stepped foot on the ice for the second time as a New Jersey Devil and there was not one moment after that the Devils were not #1.

That’s why I’m not worried about losing Elias for a few weeks at the start of the season. It would be more painful to lose Elias towards the middle to the end of the season. No reason to panic now.

Besides, the Devils have plenty of goal scorers on the team already.

It was scarier losing Brodeur last season…and look what happened. Devils still came out #1.

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