Social Media Q&A with the NHL's Michael DiLorenzo

by Shannon Paul on February 25, 2009



The following is an interview with Michael DiLorenzo, the Director of Corporate Communications with the NHL (National Hockey League), about what he has learned thus far through social media engagement and what he plans to do with what he’s learned. I know he’s really eager to gather some feedback, so please let him (and me) know your thoughts in the comments.

As Director of Communications for the National Hockey League, what are your biggest challenges?
(MD) Getting a little tactical on you with this reply, but my biggest challenge is competing for space with this economic malaise.  The League has carved out a nice little emerging tech and growth story, particularly
since the work stoppage. All of the NHLs key metrics are tracking upward revenues, attendance, subscriptions, e-commerce, TV ratings, etc. – but we’re competing with some pretty dramatic storylines that impact billions of people. One of the other challenges I have is keeping up with the growing social media environment, and trying to keep track of everything that is written about our brand.

A lot of businesses seem to struggle with integrating social media into their communications strategies. Why do you think this is the case?
I have two opinions on this.  First, I think the inclination is to use Social Media as simply one more way to shout a message to the masses. That is, there’s a temptation to use these emerging platforms as just another way to speak *at* the public, not *with* the public.  Second, there still seems to be a little bit of a Wild West thing going on, and many – both individuals and businesses – are learning as they go. I don’t think that’s a great crime, as long as they follow a few simple rules:  listen, engage, be authentic and be (reasonably) transparent. It also doesn’t hurt to glom on to some people that have been doing it well for awhile, and take their counsel.

You recently decided to start engaging in social media through blogging for the NHL and on your personal blog, From the Blue Seats, and you’re active on Twitter. What prompted this decision? What have you learned thus far?
I got started using Twitter and updating my blog for two reasons. First, and much like the (wrong) way I described above, I thought it would make sense to broadcast the NHL message where millions were already congregated. I’ve since learned that you can’t be in the 1-way dialog business via Social Media. That’s when I started listening more and trying to engage folks rather than talk at them. I also found that it’s more fun and rewarding personally to be a face, and not just a link to a press release. The second reason I got involved is I thought that as the League claiming innovation, we were obligated to be there unequivocally; and I thought some fans might appreciate a direct line into the League office. What I’ve learned on this point is that I have to be vigilant in responding to fans that contact me. They’re all important to listen to and acknowledge.

What do you hope to accomplish through blogging?
I want From The Blue Seats to be a place where I can invite fans (and others) to start a dialog based on something I’ve posted – an idea, a video, an article. The blog should start the conversation, not end it.

I actually plan to launch three new “features” on From the Blue Seats, and I guess with these words I am unveiling them here. I want to pilot them and test response to see if they are worth sticking with.

The first feature will be called “The Daly Download,” and will feature a very short, 2-3 question interview (vlog!) with NHL Deputy Commish Bill Daly a couple of times per month. In fact, I recorded my first one today with Bill, and it focuses on the NHL trade deadline. That’ll be up soon.

The second feature will be called “Two Man Advantage” and feature my colleague in NHL PR, Schuyler Baehman (it was @schuylerb‘s idea, in fact). This will be another “vlog” where we’ll briefly discuss or debate a League
issue. John Dellapina of NHL PR and late of the NY Daily News will guest.

Finally, and maybe most exciting for me, is the feature “Chirps.”  Each week I’ll Tweet about an upcoming NHL-themed guest, and fans can Tweet me with suggested questions for that guest.  I’ll take the best 5 questions and write a Q+A-styled blog post.

What’s so social about social media?
At the NHL, you’ll often hear people say they are going to take an idea and “socialize” it.  In other words, shop the idea around, get feedback, debate, make it better, etc.  I see that same spirit in Social Media.

Michael DiLorenzo blogs at From the Blue Seats and you can follow him on Twitter here: @umassdilo

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Comment

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

February 25, 2009 Nicole W.

I love the comment about using SM to talk “with,” instead of “at,” people. It seems that one of the biggest mistakes a business can make is to confuse social network business marketing with traditional advertising, (which is essentially an outward message instead of a dialogue). People in social networks turn off; its boring and obvious.


February 25, 2009 turbobrown

Great interview, Shannon! Thanks for the inside look.

I appreciate Michael’s social media maxim “listen, engage, be authentic and be (reasonably) transparent,” especially the last point. I think sometimes people are either too far to the left or right of center on that issue: not real/transparent enough or too revealing/transparent. It’s a big one for businesses to keep in mind, that you can engage in SM while careful measuring and controlling your transparency. Michael’s answer to your third question really exposes how any business can get involved in SM: jump in, observe, listen and then learn from what you hear and see.

I also like the new “features” that he talked about, especially the “chirps”. If you’ve got a question you’ve been wanting to ask but haven’t had the platform, now you potentially have it. Good stuff there from the NHL!

Thanks to you and @umassdilo!


February 25, 2009 Brad

As a relatively new blogger, I love hearing how he plans to utilize his blog to spark conversation.

Thanks for posting this interview.


February 25, 2009 Ryan | Lifegawker

You could say I am a bit biased because I am fans of both Shannon and Michael and enjoy what they have to say in their blogs and on Twitter. With that said, one of the reasons I enjoy what both of them have to say is summed up here by Michael;

“That’s when I started listening more and trying to engage folks rather than talk at them. I also found that it’s more fun and rewarding personally to be a face, and not just a link to a press release.”

On Twitter, especially, there is a certain group of people that are only in it for themselves and use Twitter as a means of broadcasting their agenda. The fact that both Shannon and Michael care enough to be engaging to anyone and everyone that takes the time to talk to them, speaks volumes about who they are and the organizations that they represent.

Keep up the great work and I appreciate you both for being my tie to two of my favorite organizations the NHL (as a whole) and the Red Wings (in particular).


February 25, 2009 ulumarketing

It is great to see a professional sport grasp social media the way it should, as a conversation, not just another link dump or megaphone.

It is great to hear that Mr. DiLorenzo gets the concept of SM and is continuing to explore its possibilities firsthand and not just hiring out the process and the learning as an extension of the NHL’s communications plan, but as a core piece.


February 25, 2009 Tim Coyne

Great interview Shannon.

Mike clearly understands the social media space and the NHL is better for it.



February 25, 2009 Michael DiLorenzo

Nicole W – you hit on a key point there … “boring and obvious.” If this stuff is boring, people are just going to tune you out. That’s why being personal is so important. Personality wins over robots any day, especially since robots eat old people’s medicine for fuel.

turbobrown – I was wondering if folks would bristle at me saying that you can’t be 100% transparent. For me, though, it goes without saying that I can’t always show people how the sausage gets made. Just that it tastes delicious, especially when you dip it in the maple syrup on the pancakes.

Brad – thanks for reading

Ryan | Lifegawker – thanks, as always. Is there anything worse than Tweeters that you sign up to follow, who auto-DM you that they can make you a millionnaire working from home? Go away!

ulumarketing – we’re learning every day and can only get better as we learn more. so keep those cards and letters coming, and vote early and often.

Tim Coyne – wait until we launch our Podcast and blow everyone’s mind.


February 25, 2009 Anonymous

“there’s a temptation to use these emerging platforms as just another way to speak *at* the public, not *with* the public.”

Think this is the most important point Michael said. Social media should not be thought of as a megaphone…its meant to be a conversation.

And done correctly the ROI and ROE (return on engagement) of social media can surpass that of speaking *at* the public


February 25, 2009 Ryan Erisman

“there’s a temptation to use these emerging platforms as just another way to speak *at* the public, not *with* the public.”

Think this is the most important point Michael said. Social media should not be thought of as a megaphone…its meant to be a conversation.

And done correctly the ROI and ROE (return on engagement) of social media can surpass that of speaking *at* the public


February 26, 2009 peeta

I’m biased because I love the NHL so much (despite the Rangers current losing streak) but it’s incredibly encouraging to hear a PR guy from a major sport is thinking like this. In my experience pitching ideas to a couple other major sports leagues, this is extremely rare. I feel like the NHL is on a roll since the strike and a little transparency could go a long way towards creating some real advocacy for the league. The game has never been better, inside or out.


March 1, 2009 Michael DiLorenzo

Hi Ryan – thanks for your comment. I think one thing my approach currently lacks is a data-driven business case, something that produces an ROI (or ROE) statement.

Peeta – thank you for reading, and for your kind words. I think sooner or later, all of the leagues are gonna have to get religion around this. I think being involved sooner not only lets us work the kinks out, it reinforces the “innovation” brand we are working to carve out with all of our digital initiatives. I think we’ll get some of this social media stuff right, some wrong … but ion both cases always be better than we were the day before.


April 10, 2009 Stuart Foster

Grats on the move to Chicago Shannon. I did it when it was much colder (and only got to stay for a month), it’s definitely a cool city. Good luck!


January 24, 2011 Follow On Twitter

Your blog theme Rocks, Sweet Work here…


January 24, 2011 Chiropractors Mesa AZ

Yes a great blog indeed, Love the consistent education, makes for a nice read.


June 1, 2011 corpus christi plumber

You can find a capable dwelling inspector in the yellow pages, Internet or your realtor might have a record of many to opt for from. The house inspector is operating for you due to the fact you are paying for the do the job. The appraisal is accomplished for the advantage of the lender to identify sector worth. By creating the invest in of your household contingent on a satisfactory property inspection report you are defending your self from expensive repairs that need to have been performed by the seller just before the dwelling went on the sector.


June 15, 2011 site management

Admiring the time and energy you put into your website and in depth information you offer. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.


September 13, 2011 Bryant Hackford


{ 5 trackbacks }

  • New features for “From The Blue Seats” : Sports PR Blog March 5, 2009
  • Sports & Social Media - NHL TweetUp « Trevor Turnbull Blog April 22, 2009
  • My Beef With 2 WV Organizations (Part II) « Alan’s Blog August 5, 2009
  • If an Armed Service branch policy was a professional sports league policy, which one would it be? « Andrew Branum's Blog October 27, 2009
  • 35 SEO & Social Media Expert Interviews « Look Busy! August 18, 2010

Previous post:

Next post: