Penguins Players, Execs Staying Connected With Fans, Partners
During a time of uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic, Penguins execs, personnel and even players picked up the phone to stay connected with their season-ticket holders and partners to provide calm, cheerfulness and community. Penguins VP/Media Relations Jennifer Bullano Ridgley told THE DAILY this communication effort came about when players, coaches and management started “asking what they could do” beyond the realm of “something they could do that filled a void of social media presence.” Ridgley said Team Operations Dir Jason Seidling then spoke to GM Jim Rutherford and coach Mike Sullivan about the initiative -- which was previously done by another team -- and they were “immediately on board with it.” While some people called CEOs of companies, the majority called season-ticket holders, and Ridgley said the feedback showed it was an "instant success.” She said comments from fans and partners indicated the calls were "genuine, the dialogue wasn’t controlled, it wasn’t scripted, it was really just them calling and checking in.” She said, "We had parents putting their kids on the phone talking to players, we heard some calls went over 25 minutes.” What was most impressive to Ridgley was the “feedback we got from our management, the players, the coaches themselves -- they loved it.” The team estimated that it talked to over 500 season-ticket holders over four days in April, while this week the coaches called 30 corporate partners.
PLAYERS MAKE MOVES: Ridgley said many players expressed an interest in getting in on the effort, and it is moving forward, as the team is even considering doing video calls. Sidney Crosby’s gung-ho attitude about the effort also helped get other players on the phones. She said, “Sid was very on board with it, he probably is someone who took the most time on his calls. … He is someone who is very genuine in that aspect.” Ridgley said of the players, “They miss a lot of time with their families, so I think them being able to experience that and see it has allowed them to sympathize and realize what other people are going through.”
THE BIG PICTURE: On the prospect of implementing this initiative beyond the pandemic, Ridgley said, “All across the board from partnerships, ticketing and marketing, we all agree that this was a really big success, and we all know the emphasis on fan engagement and interacting with our community has always been important to us.” She concluded, “Now we realize there are so many different new technologies people are using. … It’s just something we can take forward and I do think it will be something that we’ll embrace.”