SBJ/January 9-15, 2012/Franchises

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  • Devils’ social hub starts to pay off

    One year after launching the Mission Control social media hub at the Prudential Center, New Jersey Devils officials say the team has begun to monetize the program, producing $500,000 in revenue from new and renewed marketing partnerships, according to Rich Krezwick, president of Devils Arena Entertainment.

    “Mission Control has been our lead in sales meetings, not just a throw-in,” Krezwick said. “I think we can do $2 million in our second year.”

    Sponsorships of Mission Control at the Prudential Center have produced $500K in revenue.
    Photo by: NEW JERSEY DEVILS
    This year the Devils have signed new partnerships with solar energy company Pfister Energy, T-Mobile, parking company The Parking Spot, the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, and the New Jersey Lottery. The team has renewed existing deals with Ford, Geico, Subway restaurants and the American Red Cross.

    According to Krezwick, each partnership includes a social media tie-in based around Mission Control. The partnership with the lottery includes title sponsorship of the team’s new online fantasy game, where users follow player stats throughout the season. The state Division of Travel and Tourism sponsors a fan-generated photo mosaic where fans submit photos of their favorite destinations in the state. The final mosaic will be displayed at the Prudential Center this spring.

    Other examples of sponsor integration include sweepstakes and contests run through the team’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

    In January 2011, the Devils converted storage space in the arena into a red-painted office space with four workstations, iPads and television monitors. The team manned the station with 25 volunteers, called “generals,” who update the team’s blog, Twitter and Facebook pages, and monitor conversations about the team in online discussion forums.

    When the program launched, the team had 5,000 followers on Twitter. Now more than 46,000 people follow the team. At the beginning of the 2011-12 season, the team had 56,700 followers on Facebook. It currently has more than 244,000 Facebook followers. Krezwick said the team does not put sponsored tweets or Facebook posts on its social media, but instead integrates partners with giveaways and promotions.

    The team has retained all 25 volunteers for the 2011-12 season, and the volunteers are compensated with tickets, apparel and other swag. Krezwick said the program will launch a regular video component this year hosted by one of the generals.

    “When we launched this we made a cultural investment in social media,” Krezwick said. “It’s coming to fruition now.”

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  • Bulls create exec committee, add VPs

    Chicago Bulls President and COO Michael Reinsdorf is deepening his imprint on the franchise by creating a new executive committee along with adding two new executive positions to help drive the team’s business.

    It’s the biggest organizational move made by Reinsdorf since he was named team president and COO by his father and Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in September 2010.

    Goodenow
    The five-member executive committee includes the hiring of Susan Goodenow as vice president of branding and communications, along with the promotion of John Viola from senior director of corporate partnerships to vice president of corporate sales.

    They join Steve Schanwald, executive vice president of business operations; Irwin Mandel, senior vice president, financial and legal; and Keith Brown, vice president of ticket sales, as members of the new executive committee that will report directly to Reinsdorf. There are no departures of the team’s front office staff under the reorganization.
    Viola

    Reinsdorf said he formed the committee to better develop a long-term business strategy for the team and bring a more collaborative approach to the front office.

    “Our business has evolved, particularly in just the last couple of years and especially in terms of how teams communicate given the rapid growth of social media,” Reinsdorf said. “To meet the growing demands — and take advantage of new opportunities — I believe we needed to expand our team. By putting people in positions to take on more of the day-to-day operations, that allows all of us, particularly those at the most senior levels, more time and energy to focus on developing a long-term strategic vision for the organization.”

    Goodenow comes to the Bulls from the Boston Red Sox where she worked as senior vice president of public affairs since 2008. Prior to her stint at the Red Sox, Goodenow worked in public relations for Major League Baseball from 2006 to 2007.

    She began her job with the Bulls on Jan. 1 and will oversee all branding and communications efforts for the Bulls. She reports to Reinsdorf while Viola reports to Schanwald.

    The organizational changes come as the Bulls remain one of the top brands in the NBA. The team last season led the league in attendance, drawing an average of 21,792 fans a game at the United Center while posting the NBA’s best record at 62-20. Local television ratings on Comcast SportsNet Chicago were up 90 percent from the 2009-10 season as the team, led by NBA MVP Derrick Rose, lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    This year, the Bulls rank among the top clubs in season-ticket sales and the team is among a handful in the NBA with a season-ticket waiting list.

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