Tag Archives: laker hockey

Social media and college sports rivalries: Managing #OzWhiteout Weekend

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If you attend one of the schools or know DIII men’s hockey, you know that Oswego vs. Plattsburgh is a college sports rivalry of legendary proportions. The two teams always vie for the SUNYAC title, an NCAA bid (often both get in) and bragging rights. When it comes to school spirit, social media is an amazing outlet. But if you’re a social media manager, how do you harness that enthusiasm?

You plan, you prepare, you tap talented students and you all manage the plan early and often.

We started using #ozwhiteout as the official tag a couple years ago but were more aggressive with it this year. I’m happy we didn’t pare it down to #whiteout because Arizona used that tag this weekend for a big basketball game and our tweets would have been lost in the flood of a huge Division I program. An unofficial (funny but somewhat offensive) #puckflattsburgh tag stays around every year, and #whiteoutweekend was a player.

ozwhiteoutbanner

While we didn’t have broad promotional support this season (goal for next year: get hashtag on the official T-shirt) I worked with our sports information director, Mike Bielak, to solidify early, and he made the above scoreboard graphic (also shared on social media) promoting the tag, which announcers read during games. White the Whiteout term originally just applied to the hockey matchup, the athletic department has broadened it to Whiteout Weekend, which featured eight home games total — two each for men’s and women’s hockey plus men’s and women’s basketball — even though the Oswego-Plattsburgh ice showdown is unquestionably the main event. We promoted the tag and the weekend fairly heavily on Facebook and Twitter the week leading in, with much of the Twitter promotion coming via retweets of other fans using the official tag.

Using topsy.com, I looked at the three main related hashtags, as of Monday morning:
- 643 mentions for #ozwhiteout
- 220 for #whiteoutweekend
- 97 for #puckflattsburgh

The #ozwhiteout figure was by far the biggest tag use I’ve ever seen for one of our campus events (maybe twice the previous record). In addition, 84 photos posted to Instagram sported the #ozwhiteout tag. I just imagine the figures if we could get everyone on one tag and not watering down the figures, but social media is a democratic, not top-down, communication device, so you just do your best and ultimately appreciate anybody who is (positively) active around your events.

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Our social media team — interns Kristen Burke, Alyssa Levenberg and Lavon Shim-Johnson plus video grad assistant Phillip Moore — deserve a lot of credit. Kristen and Alyssa alternated running our Twitter account (one would do game tracking, the other crowd/superfan shots) and Instagram for hockey-related activities. Lavon took care of basketball, which had its own exciting weekend. Phil filmed and posted a video showing the line of students camped out in the Campus Center waiting for Oswego-Plattsburgh doors to open, which we used as a post-event thank you to our students for their dedication … and can use to promote future #ozwhiteout games and student life in general.

On the ice and the hardwood, our teams went 5-2-1 for #ozwhiteout weekend. In the marquee game, our young Laker men’s team held Plattsburgh (ranked #1 in the nation) to a 3-3 tie, a huge growing and learning opportunity for our freshmen-laden squad. But overall when so many of our fans are active, proud, positive, enthusiastic and connected via social media, it’s a win for school spirit.

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Networking and newsgathering: Breaking stories via social media.

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 8.33.17 AMWhen you’re Division III college or smaller school, your first former student-athlete playing in the pros is a big deal. If your institution also is the first outlet to put out that story and scoop traditional news media, it’s a bonus. As we learned this week, networking and newsgathering are critical to making this happen.

We knew that former Laker hockey standout Eric Selleck was well-regarded in the Florida Panthers organization, albeit perhaps more as an enforcer than scorer. We didn’t expect him to be called up so soon, but the Panthers didn’t expect so many injuries. So on Monday, a couple days removed from current crop of Lakers’ trip to the Frozen Four, former SUNY Oswego sports broadcaster Sean Balogh sent me this tweet.

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Students from our sports journalism program, which has produced the likes of ESPN’s Steve Levy and Linda Cohn, don’t idly pass on such rumors. But I tweeted that I was seeking verification, which brought the semi-anonymous friend who runs @OswegoTweets into the conversation.

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I checked @GeorgeRichards’ tweets and sure enough:

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While that was retweetable, it wasn’t enough to build a story. I contacted Oswego Sports Information Director Adele Burk but also wondered if Selleck would be the first Laker to play in the NHL. We have a long and storied hockey program, but I couldn’t recall anyone getting closer than former goalie Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt’s celebrated one-night stint filling a jersey on the Washington Capitals’ bench. So I contacted Oswego Coach Ed Gosek, who also played with many Laker legends back in the 1970s, and Joe Gladziszewski, former Laker SID, lifelong Oswego hockey fan and now the associate director of athletic communications at Ithaca College. They were confident Selleck would be the first former Laker to play in a regular-season game.

This was important because it adds great news value. Players get called up to the pro ranks every day, but the first from their alma mater to play on the highest level is a once-in-your-institutional-history story.

So what about some kind of official confirmation, a story with more detail than a tweet? Nothing from the Panthers’ website or traditional media channels. Then this tweet from Chris Horvatits, WTOP sportscaster and member of our merry band at the Frozen Four:

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So I hunted down that story on the San Antonio Rampage website, which sure enough led with “Florida Panthers Executive VP/General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the club has recalled F Eric Selleck from the San Antonio Rampage (AHL) …” I sent the confirmation link to Adele so she could finish the official story but had enough for us to file an official tweet with full context:

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 8.14.18 AMSoon after, Adele had the official Oswego athletics story up and out via social media:

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 8.14.40 AMWhich gave us an official story to post on Facebook, where it was very well-received:

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 8.29.36 AM… and even though it seemed to take ages to confirm it, we were still way ahead of the media curve on it. Does that matter? It does if you want to establish your social media properties as places to go for breaking news (and not just canned announcements, but real-world good news). When your social media channels break stories of interest to your audience, and you value accuracy as part of it, you’re bound to build a more loyal following. Having a good social network and some newsgathering skills can help make this happen.

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blizzard of #ozwhiteout.

The biggest event on campus (outside of graduation) is when Oswego hosts our archrivals Plattsburgh in men’s hockey. Oswego was ranked #1 in the country coming into the weekend; Plattsburgh #4. Posts on our Facebook page on the topic often earn more than 100 likes, comments on past contests and “Go Lakers!” cheers, so it’s a good time to promote a hashtag. With our usual constraints (zero budget, staffing of just me and any available interns), we picked up the banner of #ozwhiteout and ran with it.

Quick take (if you don’t want to read the whole Storify below): We were able to get the support of student TV station WTOP early, which was big. What worked best for our main Twitter outlet, @sunyoswego, was posting quality content — video, photos, score updates — others were likely to retweet. We drew a prediction from one of our most famous alums, ESPN’s Steve Levy, into the stream. And a quick raw video I hurriedly shot, edited and uploaded to our YouTube channel picked up hundreds of hits almost instantaneously. Oh, and Oswego won 3-0. Go Lakers!

  1. Promotion of the hashtag started early, as I reached out to WTOP Sports Editor Justin Andrews, who took my class last semester.
  2. Share
    @jandrews89 Ha! Also, I kind of favor #ozwhiteout cuz it’s shorter.

    Wed, Feb 15 2012 12:37:13
  3. Share
    @TimNekritz noted for this weekend. #ozwhiteout will be the official @wtop10 tag for the game.

    Wed, Feb 15 2012 12:39:52
  4. Once WTOP was on board, and with the @sunyoswego account putting out regular content — often retweeted — the hashtag was up and running.
  5. Share
    The campus is abuzz over tomorrow night’s #ozwhiteout game between Oswego, #1 in the nation, and Plattsburgh, #4 nationally. Go Lakers!

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 11:10:35
  6. Share
    RT @sunyoswego: The campus is abuzz over tomorrow night’s #ozwhiteout game between Oswego, #1 in the nation, and Plattsburgh, #4 nationally. Go Lakers!

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 11:14:14
  7. Share
    First of all thank you @TimNekritz for letting/creating the official #ozwhiteout hash tag. Now T minus 20 hours till game time.

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 23:37:44
  8. Share
    It’s the final countdown! #1 @sunyoswego Lakers vs. #4 Plattsburg Cardinals! Puck drops tonight at 7pm #whiteoutweekend #ozwhiteout #getsome

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 23:46:04
  9. Then a fan asked for a prediction from ESPN’s Steve Levy, one of our most famous alumni.
  10. Share
    @espnSteveLevy can we get your prediction for the big Oswego v. Plattsburgh #whiteout game tongiht? #golakers

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 12:54:49
  11. Steve responded, full of Laker pride.
  12. Share
    Either 9-0 or 4-2, OZ wins either way RT @TheBillReese: can we get your prediction for Oswego/Plattsburgh #whiteout game tongiht? #golakers”

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 14:20:34
  13. Of course we’re going to share it, adding a hashtag to pull it into the conversation.
  14. Share
    :) RT @espnSteveLevy: Either 9-0 or 4-2, OZ wins either way RT @TheBillReese: can we get prediction for Oswego/Plattsburgh game? #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 14:30:16
  15. Yet more alums chime in, including one with an interesting story.
  16. Share
    RT @wtop10: Watch the #ozwhiteout game on WTOP10 tonight! Go Lakers!

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 14:40:12
  17. Share
    I will be listening to the game while working on an ambulance in Rochester tonight…LET’S GO OZ!!! #ozwhiteout @sunyoswego

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 15:00:45
  18. Thanks to a tip from prominent alum/Laker fan Lou Borrelli, I received word the line for admission (slated to start at 4; it went a bit early) was hitting critical mass, even tho doors weren’t slated to open until 5:45. I walked the line and took a quick raw video, which I quickly ran through iMovie (for a title) and posted to our YouTube page.
  19. Share
    Walking the Line for #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:08:44
  20. Which we then posted (and saw many folks share).
  21. Share
    Quick video look at students lined up for the #ozwhiteout game … this line will get much longer! youtu.be/j2AiD4vpjow

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:14:50
  22. Even Mother Nature wanted in on the action …
  23. Share
    Just started snowing.. maybe it really will be an #ozwhiteout ??

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:15:48
  24. Share
    Off to Oswego for the white out hockey game and see my brother @jandrews89 #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:27:14
  25. Fans even provided their own photos on the tag … the line is getting really long at this point.
  26. Share

    Happy whiteout 2012! #ozwhiteout http://instagr.am/p/HH3ep7Azi6/

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 17:07:00
  27. And I received a photo contribution from a dean! Dean Fritz Messere of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts, to be exact.
  28. Share

    http://yfrog.com/kiiasaqj Dean Messere sent along this photo of the first students in line for the #ozwhiteout.

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 17:12:30
  29. Share
    Go LAKERS!! #ozwhiteout 2012

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 17:35:26
  30. Share
    At the whiteout game? Come say hi at camera two next to the @espnstevelevy pressbox! #ozwhiteout #puckflattsburg

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:05:07
  31. Share
    White out game! Let’s go #oswego #ozwhiteout with my favorites @ericasuzan24 #Sam

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:16:29
  32. Share
    Oh, just #1 and #4 in the country, Oswego vs. Plattsburgh, sold out. NBD. #ozwhiteout (@ Campus Center Arena) 4sq.com/yUKlep

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:21:50
  33. Share
    10 mins til puck drop. This is sure to be a great one! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:51:21
  34. During the game, we provided scoring updates, sometimes reposted by official media! And fans contributed their perspectives.
  35. Share
    First goal of that game is a slap shot by Oswego’s #28 Jesse McConney from #21 Tyler Leimbrock! Way to go Lakers! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 19:14:13
  36. Share
    I believe we are already in funkytown #ozwhiteout #JustSayin

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 19:15:27
  37. Share
    RT @sunyoswego: Slap shot by Jon Whitelaw! 2-0 Oswego. #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 19:30:38
  38. Share
    Lakers still lead 2-0 after 2 but will start the 3rd at a 5-on-3 disadvantage. #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:20:21
  39. Share
    This is uncomfortable. RT @sunyoswego: Lakers still lead 2-0 after 2 but will start the 3rd at a 5-on-3 disadvantage. #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:24:24
  40. New media professor Gary Ritzenthaler chipped in his view … literally.
  41. Share

    Nice view! RT @gritz99: Seats right on the ice for #ozwhiteout game! Go Lakers! http://yfrog.com/esd9ladj

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:30:19
  42. Share
    Chris Ayotte’s one timer puts Oswego up 3-0 over Plattsburgh! 12:00 to go! #ozwhiteout #LetsGoLakers

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:43:43
  43. Share
    Power play goal by Chris Ayotte! 3-0 Oswego! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:43:58
  44. Share
    We’re okay. Puck just flew over us! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:54:52
  45. And, at last, tales of victory rang throughout the land.
  46. Share

    Victory! #ozwhiteout http://yfrog.com/h0do5ecj

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 21:14:10
  47. Share
    Oswego hangs on for the 3-0 win! Lakers are your SUNYAC regular-season champs! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 21:09:30
  48. Share
    RT @sunyoswego: Oswego hangs on for the 3-0 win! Lakers are your SUNYAC regular-season champs! #ozwhiteout

    Sat, Feb 18 2012 06:57:27

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we can be [hockey] heroes, just for one day.

Imagine you’re working in Web production when someone comes up to you and asks you to step into your dream job. That’s what happened to Brett Leonhardt, a former SUNY Oswego goalie who, for Friday night at least, got to suit up for an NHL game.

Brett Leonhardt living his dream. (AP/Luis M. Alvarez Photo)

Brett Leonhardt living his dream. (AP/Luis M. Alvarez Photo)

He was certainly in the right place at the right time. Leonhardt, a 6′ 7″ guy who always seemed an intimidating presence in Laker green and gold, works on the Washington Capitals Web production team when word came down that goalie Jose Theodore injured himself during warmups. The veritable Moonlight Graham wasn’t asked to start, but with the time lag to recall another goalie from the minors, Leonhardt suited up, took part in pregame drills and sat on the bench.

This isn’t a perfect Hollywood story, as he didn’t get in the game. He won’t even receive a game check, but interviewed later he didn’t care. I should pay them for being able to do this, he said. Every dream come true. Growing up in Canada, playing since I was 4. It was just very surreal.

I guess my dream-job moment would involve being asked to put down the laptop and go warm up in the Seattle Mariners bullpen. I’d soak in the air of beautiful Safeco Field on a summer night, enjoy the easy camaraderie of the other pitchers, savor the feel of the ball leaving my hand and the snap sound of it hitting the bullpen catchers’ glove. That alone would be enough.

Far-fetched, to be sure, but: If you were called away to do your dream job, even just for one day, what would it be?

Unless your dream job is working with the Web … in which case, more power to you!

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