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Philadelphia Flyers

I wanted to write about the incredible risks the Philadelphia Flyers took this off-season, and if they are paying off or not.  Last off-season, the Flyers traded away two of their top players, including their captain, in an attempt to dumb salary, and change the leadership direction of the team.  Mike Richards was traded to the LA Kings, and Jeff Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Richards had been the team captain for the last 5 or so years, and Carter had been the team’s leading scorer for the last three seasons.  This move shocked the Flyer fans, and caused a lot of controversy in the city.  However, with the increased cap space, the Flyers were able to sign Ilya Bryzgolov, the Russian goaltender, who has been great in net over the last few seasons for the Phoenix Coyotes.  Bryz was supposed to fill a hole the Flyers have had for the last decade in net.  Also, in return for Richards and Carter, the Flyers received a first round draft choice, and a number of young players that they were expecting to contribute.

After watching the Flyers regular season, and beginning of the playoffs, I would have to say that the trades the Flyers made in the off season, have been justified.  This is evident by the fact that the Flyers have made the playoffs, and have made it to the second round.  They have found new leaders in Claude Giroux and Danny Briere.  The best part, though, is the fact that the average age of the players is around 24 years old.  That means that the Flyers should be a great team beyond this season, and will only continue to get better.

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Class Reflection (4/12/12)

Today in class, we talked about public relations with internal and external publics.

It is important to communicate with your employees (internal public) so that you can inform them, orientate them, and build organizational culture.  Benefits of employee relations include employee retention, greater sense of commitment to the organization, and every employee is a public relations representative, and should be informed of the major directions the organization may be taking.

There are two ways communication with employees works, downward and upward.  Downward communication includes meetings, memos, or message boards.  Upward communication includes employees going to senior management, often interpersonal conversations.  It may even evolve into structured forms like advisory councils.

In sport organizations, there are a few unique things that you may not get with other organizations.  First of all, employees may feel a social prestige resulting from their association with the organization.  For example, someone that works for the Panthers may have a greater social appeal when with panthers fans, envious of their position in the organization.  Secondly, it may make appeals to the organizations pride successful.  There will be an emotional appeal/attachment for employees to the organization they work for.  The last thing that is unique in sport organizations is that labor relations present challenges.  We saw a perfect example of this in the last year with the NFL and NBA labor negotiations almost eliminating the entire season of both sports.

Class Reflection (3/29/12)

Today in class, we talked about direct contact in public relations.  Some examples of this include public speeches, personal appearances, promotional tours, clinics, or open houses.

Some advantages of direct contact methods include face-to-face, person-to-person contact with publics, audiences for these events are generally going to be friendly, and your organization has a high level of control over the event (what is seen, heard, etc.).  Some of the benefits of direct contact pubic relations are that you can develop a personal connection with members of key publics, you can generate publicity, create good will and favorable attitudes, or generate revenue, directly or indirectly.

In a public speaking engagement, make sure you identify your personnel with the ability to speak well, strong interpersonal skills, and knowledge and expertise of your organization.

Personal appearances usually deal with a meet and greet, or autograph signing sessions.  These can be great for fans, or bad for fans, depending on their individual experience with players or coaches.  It is important to make sure your players/coaches are aware of this, so that they stay positive and give off a good image of the organization.  The last thing you want is for a fan to meet their favorite player, and be disappointed.

One of the best options for direct contact are clinics.  You can give people access to players and coaches, and allow them to be coached by these players and coaches.  It is a great way to develop fan loyalty to your organization and enhance your reputation.  It can also allow for fans to grow a greater appreciation for the coach’s role in the organization.

Class Reflection (3/22/12)

Today we had a guest speaker who works for a public relations advertising agency.  She spoke to us about some of the different projects her agency has taken on, and how they went about developing those projects.

The first project was the Carolina Panthers’ new logo design.  She told us about how the images of the new design leaked before they were planning to unveil them.  Luckily for them, none of the major media companies such as ESPN were able to pick up on the leak before they were.  Because of this, they were able to move up their timeline and have their official press conference for the new logo, before most people even new about it.

Another event her company helps advertise is the ACC Championship Game.  Some of the difficulties she described about advertising this game were that because there are different teams in it every year, they won’t know who their target audiences will be until about a month before the game.  Luckily, she said that most of the tickets get sold in the Spring, well before the game, so they only have a small percentage of tickets to try to get rid of in the last month.  Also, she said that they were discussing moving the ACC Championship game to a new location.  This could be a problem because her agency is based in Charlotte, and may not be retained if the game moves to Washington D.C.

Class Reflection (3/15/12)

Today in class we talked about public relations and the internet.  We discussed things like blogs, websites, and social media.

A key point when developing a website is to consider the organization’s goals and objectives, the site development and management, the content of the website, the site design, and the site promotion.

The goal of the organization’s website should be to relate the purpose of the website to the target audience.  The objectives could be to increase revenue, provide customer satisfaction, or provide entertainment.

When thinking about the content of the website, you must take a few things into consideration.  If you have limited manpower, you should offer a minimum of expectations such as current schedules and game results.  Also, will your site contain graphics, game stories, video/audio, animations, or multimedia?

We also discussed social media.  The definition of social media is, forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share info, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).  The fundamentals of public relations remain the same when dealing with social media.  It’s all about the message.  A few tips we learned for an organization to use would be to hire a social media tracking service to give you feedback on products and services, personnel, policies, etc.  Employee a social media coordinator or intern who monitors and proactively disseminates positive media info or responses.

Class Reflection (3/1/12)

Today in class, we discussed the topic of advertising in pubic relations.  Advertising in public relations in extremely importance because it can be the first time a person comes into contact (physically, visually, etc) with your organization or product.

Some advantages in public relations ads are that you can reach a large audience.  You can control a lot of things including the message you are sending out, the timing of the message, the audience that your message is targeting, the frequency of your message (how many times it’s played) or the impact of your message, its size, length, etc.  Lastly, you can use the ad to create awareness, or distribute information regarding your organization, product, or service.

Some disadvantages of public relations ads are the cost.  Commercials can be extremely expensive.  You may miss the target depending on what type of ad you are using.  If you make a mistake, you cannot take it back, and it is out there for all to see.  Lastly, you have the potential to damage your organization’s credibility.

There are four different types of public relations advertisements.  The first is advocacy.  This can be a cross-promotional ad, or it can be that your organization is adopting a position in a certain situation.  The second is a public service ad.  These are informational or educational.  Next is image building, trying to assist the public in forming their opinion of your organization.  Lastly, is to make an announcement.

Field Experience – Charlotte Checkers

For class this week, we were required to attend a Charlotte Checkers game at the Time Warner Cable Arena.  This was the first time I had been to an AHL game, and it was quite the experience.  They had a lot of different promotions throughout the game.  That night happened to be boy scout night, so all of the local troops were present, decked out in their uniforms.  They had grade school students come out and sing God Bless America, and the National Anthem before the game.  They used all of their space in the arena for advertisements.  They had ads on the dasher boards, on the tickers, and even on the ice.  They had plenty of give-aways, and even had interactive ones, where people had to take a picture on their phone, and mail it in to be entered into a drawing.  At half time they had a trike race between three people dressed up in smoothy costumes.

At one point in the evening, we were able to chat with Jeff Longo, who is a sales and marketing consultant for the Checkers.  Jeff has experience working with the New Jersey Devils NHL team.  He explained that the Checkers use hockey almost as a backdrop for the rest of the activities going on around the game.  They try to make the game experience fun, and then there is the hockey game.  The sponsors of the Checkers give money, but they also assist with initiatives in the community.  The Checkers really try to get out and help in the community as much as possible.  The positive press really helps their reputation.  Also, the Checkers do own their own sponsorships for the arena, but that is not their primary source of revenue.  Their revenue breakdown looks like this:

Ticket Sales – 60%

Sponsorships – 35%

Merchandise – 5%

One last thing is the importance of the PR people for the Checkers.  The PR people must do a lot of coaching up of the players because they are mostly international players, not used to the Charlotte area, and are usually between the ages of 18-22, and don’t have a lot of experience dealing with media.