Over the past several weeks, there have been a few events on Twitter that merit some discussion and debate.
I’m going to review two examples from the NFL’s New York Jets and the NHL’s LA Kings as they both provide some insight into Twitter’s role in how sports teams communicate (or not).
New York Jets
This case comes out of the New Orleans’ Saints Bounty fiasco. Basically, QB Drew Brees tweeted that he couldn’t imagine that his coach, Sean Payton could be suspended for the entire 2012 season. The NYJ decided to send a reply…
@drewbrees Know you’re frustrated but if he had admitted instead of trying to cover it up, maybe Williams gets a suspended.
Not long after, another tweet came from the NYJ…
At 11:21pm on 3/21 an unauthorized tweet was sent from @nyjets. This is not the view of the New York Jets. We are looking into this matter.
I know a thing or two about sports teams and twitter, and I’m pretty certain that most teams do not “authorize” their tweets, especially at 11:21PM at night. These things happen, sometimes due to the staff/resource in charge of the Twitter account that accidentally sent a tweet that was intended for their personal account and sent it as the team account. This goes beyond sports; such was Chrysler’s experience on Twitter in which personal and brand accounts were confused and resulted in the brand tweeting out an F-bomb.
It turned out that Chrysler’s mistake actually helped increase followers – and that segues into the next example…
During their recent first round playoff victory over the Vancouver Canucks (the most followed NHL team on Twitter), the LA Kings sent out the following tweet after game 1:
To everyone in Canada outside of BC, you’re welcome.
The tweet referenced the fact the Canucks were viewed as one of the most disliked teams in Canada and sent legions of Canucks followers into a tizzy. The tweet also garnered several thousand RTs (over 17K, I believe – good enough for 10th most RTs in Twitter history) and went on to help drive close to 10,000 new followers by the next game 2 days later. While many were expectedly upset, others did not take it so seriously.
There was no “retraction tweet” per the NYJ, in fact, a Kings Spokesperson pumped their digital tires with a light apology, which I felt was more than adequate. Many saw the Kings’ tweet as fun, and were suprised that the Twitter account was being taken seriously.
So What Does This Mean?
From my experience, I know that different teams have different opinions and approaches to Twitter and communications. We see many players across many sports as well as many members of the media engage in light chirping and making fun of one another on Twitter – and in a way that would not be seen in any other venue.
I see this as healthy debate… I think the only correct answer is that it entirely depends on the teams’ market – whether they are a dominant presence in their market or strive for PR. There is no escaping the fact that the Twitter account still comes from the brand, but…
- Is Twitter part of PR no matter what?
- Is it strictly fan engagement/loyalty and Marketing?”
- Is Twitter more valid than any “official” PR communication channel?
- Can Twitter be “just for fun”?
This is what makes this field so interesting (and at times, challenging). Everyone is paying attention now – and like it or not, Twitter may be more valid and “official” than you think. Teams used to provide announcements via press releases on team, game or organizational operations. Now, teams “release” tweets, updates, pins and instagrams all day, every day.
Where does all this sit with you?