National Hockey League players began participating at the Olympics in 1998. Until then, only amateur players, and non-NHL professionals starting in 1988, could play hockey in the Olympics. NHL players returned to the Winter Games in 2002 and 2006, and they will also compete at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. It’s uncertain whether they will participate in the Olympics after 2010 because NHL executives believe that the league hasn’t benefitted from its players joining the Olympics.

According to Media Daily News, the NHL hoped to use the Olympic platform as a marketing opportunity, similar to how the NBA benefited from marketing opportunities and retail sales of its “Dream Team” players. NHL executives believe the league hasn’t found a way to do this.

One reason for this is because the Olympics occur during the middle of the hockey season, so the NHL has to shut down for multiple weeks. This can make it confusing for fans when the season starts again because they may not remember what was going on before the Olympics. The NBA is able to market the league and gain exposure year-round because the Summer Games take place during the off-season.

I don’t think the NHL should expect to benefit from the Olympics like the NBA does. Hockey isn’t as popular as basketball in the United States, where most of the NHL teams play. Hockey receives hardly any media coverage. Turn on ESPN and you’ll see numerous NBA highlights. No matter what the NHL does, I don’t think this will ever change. Millions of people watch basketball games on TV, but most think that watching hockey on TV is boring. Hockey is more exciting in person, but not everyone has the opportunity to attend games.

Another reason the NHL hasn’t benefitted is because of an incident that happened at the 1998 Olympics. After losing, players on the American team destroyed property in Olympic Village rooms. They broke furniture and threw a fire extinguisher out a window. Because of the global Olympic stage, people around the world thought the team, made up of NHL players, had no sportsmanship and that they were ungrateful. The American team did well and no incidents occurred at the 2002 Olympics, but people still remember what happened in Nagano.

If the NHL isn’t getting enough out of the Olympics, then why should the league allow its players to participate? I believe that the Olympics should feature the world’s greatest athletes, but the NHL is a business. Executives aren’t going to continue allowing Olympic participation if the league doesn’t gain exposure and increase revenue.

Planning a Holiday Party?

happy-holidaysWith the holidays right around the corner, people are busy planning parties and get-togethers. To host the perfect holiday event, planning and preparation is needed. We can all use a part of public relations —  event planning — to help ensure a successful holiday party.

PRowl Public Relations has come up with four PR tips for planning a holiday party.

1. Pay attention to competition. When choosing a day for your holiday event, make sure your neighbors or friends aren’t hosting an event on the same day. You don’t want your friends to be forced to choose which party to attend. People are busy, but it’s important to work with people’s schedules and figure out which day will work the best for more of them. 

2. RSVP. When it comes to invitations, make sure they have an RSVP on them. You need to know roughly how many people will be attending your event, so you can plan on buying the right amount of food, drinks and other items. Your guests might be upset if they showed up and there wasn’t anything to eat. You wouldn’t be very happy if you spent tons of money on food when you didn’t need to.

3. Creativity. Throwing a theme party is a great way to be creative. You can be creative in terms of theme, decor, food and entertainment. Ugly Christmas sweater parties are popular and a fun way to spice up a party. Since people usually attend multiple holiday parties, you want yours to be exciting and different. Playing games will keep people entertained throughout the party and also make your event more memorable.

4. Venue. Make sure that your event takes place in the appropriate location. You don’t want to host a party for 20 people in a large hall because the room will look empty. You also don’t want your house to be so crowded that guests can’t move around. It’s also important to decorate the space according to your theme and how you want the party to feel. If you are having a July at Christmas party, then you’ll need to decorate with beach and Christmas items.

These tips will come in handy for anyone planning a holiday event. I’ve hosted a Christmas party for the past five years and I’ve dealt with all of these things during the planning process. I wish I had thought about some of these tips earlier because they would’ve helped ease my stress! Planning and hosting a party takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end. Happy holidays! 

More information:

Tips for hosting a holiday party

Christmas party planning ideas

chalupa1Sports teams have been giving away free items at games forever, but right now is the perfect time for teams to use promotions. Because of the economy, most people don’t have a lot of extra money to spend. If people have the opportunity to receive free items, they will probably be more willing to spend money and attend games.

To fill seats, teams need to reach out to fans. Promotions are a great way to reach and excite fans. At home games, the Blazers give complimentary Taco Bell chalupa coupons to all fans when the team scores 100 points. When the Blazers are close to scoring 100, the whole crowd chants “CHA-LU-PA.” When the team finally reaches 100, everyone goes crazy. People love free stuff.

Brian Gainor discusses similar promotions. The St. Louis Blues of the NHL teamed up with Dairy Queen to give all fans a free blizzard coupon when the Blues score five goals at home. Fans also receive one free trading card. This is a great promotion because fans will be excited about the possibility of getting a free blizzard when they attend games. Dairy Queen also benefits because people may buy other menu items when they redeem their blizzard coupons. Gainor says, “The promotional offer serves as an effective way to drive direct store traffic and a mechanism that can translate fan affinity for the Blues organization into fan affinity for the Dairy Queen brand.”

When the Columbus Blue Jackets score three goals, fans can redeem their ticket stub for a free Wendy’s chili. The Nashville Predators reward fans with a free taco from Taco Bell when the team scores five goals. Fans yell and cheer on their teams in hopes of the team performing well, so they can get these free items.

Some teams also use giveaways outside of games. Before the season started, the Detroit Pistons gave away free gas to 200 people. We all know that buying gas can burn a hole in our wallets, so this really helped people. What made this promotion even greater was that the players actually pumped the gas. Drivers were able to chat with players and get autographs. This promotion gives people the opportunity to meet athletes and connect with them. Hopefully by feeling connected, people will attend games to support the players and teams.

More teams are relying on promotions to receive media attention, reach fans and fill seats. I wonder what types of promotions teams will come up with next.

Last week, people discovered wallets all over cities like Chicago and Orlando. These weren’t typical wallets that people lose and others often find. These wallets were purposely left around cities for people to find and keep.

What’s going on here? Well, this was a creative PR tactic that Burger King put into action. The fast food chain dropped wallets in busy places and told people to keep them. When people opened the wallets, they were pleasantly surprised to find money, Burger King gift cards and other random Burger King items.


I’m not a big fan of fast food, but this is a great PR tactic. By doing something different, people will talk about Burger King. This generates buzz for the company. I’ve found multiple blogs written by people who’ve heard about this tactic or found a wallet themselves. This also shows that Burger King is generous because they give away free things.

Isaacs PR Blog discusses three reasons why this PR tactic worked for Burger King. The first reason is because the tactic was unexpected. People drop wallets all the time, but they don’t usually do it on purpose. You also don’t hear much about companies dropping free items around town, especially without making an announcement. The second reason why this tactic worked was because the timing was perfect. Because of the poor economy, people could use a little help. A $5 Burger King gift card and a few bucks could really benefit someone. Finally, this tactic grabbed the audience’s attention faster than any other tactic. People are more likely to notice this tactic than the usual commercial or billboard.

If I found a wallet, my first instinct would be to return it to the owner. So, if somebody told me to keep it, I’d be pretty excited. I wish I could have found one of these wallets and been a part of Burger King’s PR tactic!

More information:

Burger King Wallet — Hits Orlando

Free wallet from Burger King

lg_sprite_lebron_james_4Professional athletes have endorsement deals with an array of companies. These include restaurants, shoe brands and credit cards. Companies have used athletes to promote their products and services for over 100 years.

Athletes endorse products and services in a variety of ways. These include TV commercials, print advertisements and Web site endorsements. Athletes may also wear products or use services when they are participating in their sport and when they are in public.

Most people know that Michael Jordan endorses Nike and that Tiger Woods endorses GatoradeAccording to recent studies, consumers are more likely to purchase products and use services endorsed by athletes than products and services that are not endorsed. Kids around the world feel like they can be “just like Mike” when they wear a pair of Air Jordan’s. If I want to buy a sports drink, I may buy Gatorade because the company sticks out in my head. I’ve seen Gatorade commercials with Tiger Woods, so the product must be good. People tend to believe star athletes.

So, what would you think if you saw or heard about Michael Jordan wearing a pair of Adidas? What about Tiger Woods drinking Powerade? Darren Rovell at Sports Biz calls this endorsement fraud. Endorsement fraud is when athletes get paid to endorse one product or service but are caught using the competitor.

Athletes can obviously eat whatever they want and wear whatever they want, but they need to be careful when they endorse a product. By signing a contract, they are obligated to that brand. Athletes are in the public eye whenever they step outside their homes. Technology has also made it possible for people to publish pictures or videos of athletes online.

Brian Gainor gives an example of Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard, who endorses McDonald’s. Howard is featured in the new Monopoly game commercials for McDonald’s. While in Beijing, playing on the Olympic basketball team, Howard was videotaped eating Wendy’s with his teammates. McDonald’s paid $4 million to be the official sponsor of Team USA Basketball for the 2008 Olympic Games. It seems strange that the team would eat Wendy’s for a team meal.

People trust athletes and hope that they are being truthful when they promote a product. Will people listen to Howard and eat at McDonald’s if they see him eating at Wendy’s? Isn’t that a bit contradicting?  

Here’s the video: http://hoopsoup.com/2008/11/03/reedem-team-meal-of-champions/

obama_basketball1Throughout the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama and John McCain used sports to reach out to people across the country. Obama did an excellent job of connecting with people through sports, which may have helped him win the election.

From the beginning of his campaign, Obama discussed his love of sports. He played basketball in high school and began playing election day pick-up games during the Democratic primary campaign. He called sports radio shows and gave interviews to sports columnists. By Obama talking about sports and showing that he’s a big sports fan, people, like Arash Markazi, can relate to him and view him as a regular person.

Obama also used sports media to reach people, especially the Republican-leaning demographic group of young white males. According to Nielsen, Obama’s campaign spent more on sports programming than any candidate in history. During the Beijing Olympics alone, Obama’s campaign spent $5 million on commercials.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 7,000 “Obama for President” commercials during live sporting events. A 30-minute Obama infomercial delayed the final World Series game by a few minutes, and Nielsen estimated that 33.7% of infomercial viewers also watched the Phillies win the World Series.

Obama had one last chance to reach the American people on Monday Night Football, the night before the election. The game was the second most-watched cable event of the year. Obama was interviewed during halftime and talked about a college football playoff system, which is an issue in the world of sports.

Connecting with people through sports was a perfect campaign strategy for Obama. He capitalized on the opportunity to reach a wide-ranging group of people, but they all had one thing in common — sports.

home_facebookThe social networking site Facebook features numerous things users can engage in. A few popular features are status updates, applications, group pages and Facebook pages. Businesses, such as stores, sports teams and politicians, often create pages to engage with customers and fans. This is one way businesses can stand out and become noticed.

With Facebook pages, people can become “fans” of businesses and interact with others. Businesses are able to send updates about products and brands to fans. These updates show up on the home page. The home page features the news feed, which is filled with status updates, comments and pictures. Because of all the clutter, do people even read updates?

I’m a fan of a couple pages and every so often I notice that I have a new update on my home page. Sometimes, I sign on a few times without checking what the update says. When I finally read the update, I usually don’t read all of it. I read the beginning of the update and stop when it says “read more.” Why don’t I keep reading? I don’t continue because the updates don’t catch my attention, so I don’t want to waste time reading them.

What can businesses do to get people to read updates? Lynn Morton says that since updates compete with other things on Facebook, they need to be 140 characters or less. I would pay more attention to updates if they were concise. If I have to continue to another page, that’s too long. Also, only send updates when it’s necessary, like when announcing a new product or event. I don’t want to read numerous updates each time I sign in.

If businesses make updates short and sweet to the point, I think more people will read them. People will be more likely to check out pages, and businesses will enhance their Facebook presence. In turn this will help businesses connect with customers and fans.

For more information: No Man’s Blog