New Jersey Devils celebrate goalie with community effort

On March 17, 2009, with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Martin Brodeur, goalie for the New Jersey Devils, entered the record books as the National Hockey League's top goaltender with 552 wins.

Company: New Jersey Devils (Newark, NJ)

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Martin Brodeur Day Devils Train to Trenton

Duration: June 18, 2009

Budget: $5,000

On March 17, 2009, with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Martin Brodeur, goalie for the New Jersey Devils, entered the record books as the National Hockey League's top goaltender with 552 wins.

As part of the celebration, the New Jersey state legislature declared June 18 Martin Brodeur Day, inviting the goalie to the State House in Trenton to accept the honor. Rather than sending Brodeur alone, the Devils' in-house PR team, Rock Entertainment Management (which is also the PR team for the Prudential Center, the Devils' sports arena), gathered New Jersey Devils alums, members of the Devils' broadcasting team, and 300 fans onto a New Jersey Transit train ride to Trenton to share the experience.

Strategy: Bob Sommer, president of Rock Entertainment Management, says the event was an opportunity to bring together the fans and the team, but also the Devils' partner, New Jersey Transit, and the government, which is an important constituent.

“It was a way to highlight the partnership with New Jersey Transit, show gratitude to the fans, and let New Jersey policy officials know that they are proud to call themselves the New Jersey Devils,” says Sommer. “Policy decisions are made all the time about pro sports and facilities. It's always important for policymakers to know about constituents. Our Devils fans are New Jersey residents, and we want to be seen as an important part of the fabric of the state.”

Moreover, the team leveraged the event to increase its use of social media.

“It was a way to start more aggressively undertaking social marketing,” says Sommer.

Tactics: To register fans, the team reached out to season ticket holders first and then to fans on the team's listserv. A notice about the event was also posted on the New Jersey Devils Web site. With only 300 seats and tens of thousands of season ticket holders and listserv registrants, seats filled quickly.

Members of the press were also invited to the event. For the first time, the Devils posted live-tweets on the team's page during the event, and photos and video were added to the team Web site and Facebook page throughout the day. The State House also used its Facebook and YouTube pages to feature the event.

Results: Major New Jersey newspapers including the Bergen Record and Newark's Star-Ledger covered the event, as well as broadcast outlets such as NJN News 12 and WBGO Radio. Coverage also extended beyond the sports pages, with reporters on the political beat also writing about it. Fan bloggers, such as In Lou We Trust, picked up on it, too. Fan response online and in-person on that day was overwhelmingly positive, according to Sommer.

Future: The Devils plan to host more events to give fans the opportunity to interact with the players. There are also plans to continue the use of social media in its marketing efforts.

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