Monday, April 27, 2009

The NFL on... Twitter

It has been a long semester and a long time since I posted here, but I thought this past weekend's NFL draft was worthy of a few minutes. Specifically, the Twitterification of it. My Twitter account was overloaded with updates. But it was today's messages which got me fired up to post.

Darren Rovell of called his back-and-forth exchange this morning with the NFL's Brian McCarthy the "Sports World's First Twinterview". Essentially, the two exchanged 140 character questions and answers. You can read the full text on Rovell's blog here

What I find most useful are the salient points McCarthy addresses regarding the utility of Twitter to reach fans. McCarthy mentions the benfits for the league and its member teams to receive realtime feedback. We get that every day when we talk to someone. That's called a dialogue, which is what Twitter and other forms of new media (blogs, Facebook, etc.) enable brands to do: Have a conversation with consumers who are obviously identified with the brand's product. Why would someone follow the NFL unless that person was already a fan or considering becoming a fan? McCarthy even likens Twitter to a virtual focus group, which is a progressive and smart way for brands to consider Twitter.  

The exchange got me wondering whether this was a planned strategy or not, so I Tweeted McCarthy and asked when the NFL decided to the Twitter presence on draft day. He responded thusly, "our digital media group @nfl tested it @ Super Bowl. I got into it 2 wks ago. @nflcommish Goodell last week." 

It's hard to imagine a major sport property such as the NFL changing PR plans ahead of a major media event the week of the event. A tremendous job by the NFL's PR staff for creating such a following. As I write (13:45 CDT), @NFLprguy has 1,500 followers, @NFL has 39,000 followers and @nflcommish has 3,700 followers. 

I am presently working on a second edition of the Sport Public Relations text and one of my reservations about doing so was the rapidly changing dynamic in the PR landscape. The NFL has modeled to other sport organizations how to properly do this. And, forced me to again rethink the text. I would welcome feedback or input from anyone who has used the text. A version of this post is also on my personal weblog here.


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