Home team: Twin Cities communicators make the most of the spotlight

While they're naturally disappointed the hometown Minnesota Vikings came up short, PR pros based in Minnesota are putting on a brave face to show off Minneapolis and St. Paul despite the playoff loss and the freezing cold.

The Super Bowl can be a boon to the host city--and for the PR pros lucky enough to attend the game, their careers.

"It might be one of the best networking events in North America," says MWWPR president Bret Werner, who will be attending his 20th Super Bowl in Minneapolis on Sunday. "It is like a mini job fair in the comms industry. There is plenty of client work to be done, but being here is also a great way to connect with lots of people in one location. It is an incredible collection of senior marketers across a lot of legit brands."

Communications pros from Minnesota say it is also giving Minneapolis an injection of energy, and agencies an influx of business. The city’s downtown can be very quiet, especially in the winter when people use skyways to go from building to building to keep themselves shielded from the snow and cold.

Not this year. Josh Thomas, senior director of comms and PR, Target, says, "I can tell you the downtown has been bustling. It feels more like Times Square in New York."

While local football fans are naturally disappointed that the Minnesota Vikings lost the conference championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles, who will play the New England Patriots on Sunday for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, he says Minneapolis residents are showing a lot of pride and curiosity.

"I’ve noticed how happy people are in long queues to experience something," says Thomas. "That is not common in Minneapolis."

Local PR pros say their clients were eager to celebrate if not the Super Bowl itself, the city and the pride its people have in it.

Exponent PR, for instance, is working with Explore Minnesota Tourism. It has set up a pop-up experience in downtown Minneapolis called "Sota Pop" that allows visitors to journey through a maze of brightly colored, themed rooms celebrating local attractions.

"The city hasn’t hosted the Super Bowl since 1992, and so for many people and even local brands, this is the first time for them to be a part of something like this," says Tom Lindell, MD, Exponent PR.

Even the Vikings are showing their hometown pride. The football team’s tight end, Kyle Rudolph, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes have been "making the rounds all week," says Alexis Walsko, founder and CEO, Lola Red, which represents the two players.

Her other clients are also lending their services to celebrate the host city. Ride-sharing platform Lyft has enabled its app to let users summon a horse-drawn carriage in downtown St. Paul and has launched "transport trivia," giving customers free prizes from local vendors for answering questions about the Super Bowl and Minneapolis. Walsko says the city’s new vibrancy "feels like what it should always be."

While the metropolis is in the midst of a $2 billion "Big Build" construction redevelopment, Walsko says she and her media partners are "challenging some of our local leaders in terms of how can we keep some of the energy here after the Super Bowl leaves."

"Because it has been transformative, and things can be done to build on the momentum," she says.

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