Thursday, August 23, 2007

Canes Marketing Stream of Consciousness...ness

About a week ago, Her Majesty had a post linking to the announcement that Cary-based Marketing and PR firm Genesis Marketing had been selected by the Hurricanes to help promote the club's decade in the old North State. The firm enjoys a nice list of clients including NC State, the ACC and New Balance stores in the Triangle.

Genesis's charge might only be to promote the ten-year anniversary. The ten-year thing is nice, but it has a very limited shelf-life. To build real and lasting brand loyalty, the Canes need to become part of the the fabric of the community and a unifying source of intense pride for folks in the Carolinas. I know the Canes work real hard on outreach and charitable pursuits, but convincing folks you are a fun and philanthropic organization doesn't necessarily create new legions of rabid hockey fans. Winning and word-of-mouth do.

During my tenure at NC State, lunch discussions always centered around Wolfpack athletics. The crew of Wuf-Pak diehards I ate lunch with were also dedicated members of the Wolfpack Club and voracious participants in the NC State and ACC discussion boards. Oh how they used to rail whenever some Chapel Hill troll dared to post a crack-back on their board. Yeah Herb was an idiot, but he was their least for awhile. Their season ticket subscriptions spanned generations and they never missed a basketball or football game.

Where does such Caniac fanaticism exist in Raleigh? Maybe a little in the Ale Houses when they host a Cool Bars night. Maybe in the Wakefield Republicans Club (H/T Bubba). Anyplace else? Bueller? I'll tell you where the real fever swamp is. It's online. It simmers on the blogs and in the discussion boards. The forum reports more than 1,100 members. There are now around 11 active Carolina Hurricanes blogs. Many Caniac bloggers tailgate and network before, during and after home games. David Lee reported the 100,000th visitor to RBH last week. I'll bet Her Majesty has double that number. I'm at around 83,000.

Bottom line is we in the digital Caniac Nation represent a powerful word-of-mouth marketing opportunity for the Hurricanes. We are the evangelists they need to empower. Engage us, and we'll shout about it to the world. Feed our passion and we'll gladly share it with everybody we encounter. Then they'll tell two friends, and so on.

When the novelty of the decade celebration is over, we'll still be talking Hurricanes hockey. During the next dismal season when that "This is Hockey!" billboard on the Beltline becomes "This is *!?%#!! Hockey????," we'll still be here. Yeah, bitching and moaning, but still here.

Hockey bloggers talk offline frequently about press credentials and access. That silly NYI bloggers box and second-class journalist treatment thing still bugs me. You journos can keep your press conferences and Pigeon Heaven press row. Keep your post-game "Well, we've just got to take it one game at a time..." re-sets. I'll tell you what I'd want if I still lived in Raleigh. I'd want to carve out space in or around the arena for bloggers, blog readers and discussion board folks to meet and network-a place where any and all fans would feel welcome to stop by before and after games, and between periods to talk Hurricanes hockey. I'm wary of a club-sponsored box, tent or deck. I see it as more of a grass roots thing. Kind of a smoking lounge for diehards. Maybe out by the dumpster or the visiting lockerroom exit. Eventually, it could even become a place where Hurricanes brass and players might enjoy making appearances.


Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WufPirate said...

All day at work - people always want to talk about tarheels, blue devils and wolfpack. Always has been. The Canes are inching their way into water cooler talk.

As for blogger access, all I'm looking for is an excuse to have a tailgate party!

The Acid Queen said...

Billboard's gone, mang. It came down not long after the end of last season, which is kinda sad cos it was a fixture.

Ah well, I'm sure something new will be put up in its place.

magnolia_mer said...

I can't believe they had to farm out their marketing. I guess they were overwhelmed with Storm Squad tryouts and all...