Monday, April 8, 2013

New Media Secrets from the Chicago Blackhawks



Adam Kempenaar, Senior Creative Director of New Media
& Creative Services at the Chicago Blackhawks with our IM Student Board

Chicago Blackhawks Come to Campus

Adam Kempenaar, Senior Creative Director of New Media and Creative Services for the +Chicago Blackhawks visited our University last Wednesday April 3. He spoke to a packed room of about 100 students, many of them interested in sports marketing, many of them in our Interactive Marketing Certificate Program and nearly all of them sporting red NIU shirts or Blackhawks gear.  That's our Interactive Advisory Board in the picture above with Adam at the Center.  Board President +Mike Glassberg, who spearheaded this effort to bring the BlackHawks to campus, is two people to the left of Adam.  The board presented him with a personalized NIU hockey jersey after his talk.  Below is a summary of advice on social media marketing and how to find a fulfilling career.

It All Started with Video

As you can imagine, for an exiting game like hockey, video is an extremely important part of the marketing communications mix.  Adam started out with a communications and radio background and his first job at the Hawks was to record and produce videos.  The Blackhawks post a lot of videos on their site and also stream the morning skate and other events.  The team has branched out into YouTube but really wants people on their own official web site.  Adam said, as we teach in our classes, the website is still the best way to communicate to fans and the first place people go to learn about their team.  Video and photos provide a way to give rare behind-the-scenes access to fans.

Social Media Exploded with the Team's Success

Social media did not exist in 2002 when Adam started with the Hawks, but now the team makes extensive use of social media and was voted the best brand on Twitter in 2009.  Adam said it just happened that as the team was really getting 'hot' there was a great new way to get the news out to fans in the form of social media.  The team seeks not to just push content but to engage its fans and answers tweets from fans.  Adam wants to engage customers and not just sell t-shirts and tickets.

The team has 1.3 million Facebook fans, 300.000 Twitter followers and is in about 73,000 G+ circles and connects with 54,000 fans on Instagram.  It views Facebook as a way to push out content but the other social media networks as a way to be more engaged.

Adam said his job is to get content out to the world  and his department is the gatekeeper.  He appreciates the emphasis on quality that the team has and credits the recent management team with contributing to the team's success not only on the ice but also in communicating with its fan base.  It takes a real commitment to make it all happen and the team work together.  Adam has a relatively small team of professionals and interns that work nearly nonstop during the hockey season to communicate with fans.

Students Need to Find their Own Professional Passion

At the end of the talk, Adam spoke to students on their careers.  He spoke of his own career path and gave three pieces of advice:

  1. Find your passion:  Adam had a good job doing something else that he did not feel passionate about, but when the Blackhawks opportunity came up, he knew he had found his dream job and went for it.  To his surprise, he was just what the Hawks were looking for and got the job.
  2. Communicate:  Write well and opportunities will come to you.  Adam had the chance to write a key letter for an executive early in his career that that success opened up doors for him.
  3. Just 'do it':  If you want to be in social media, start a blog, create and disseminate content.  You have to show that your really are interested in this field.
We all thank Adam for taking the time to speak to our class.  We teachers thank him for reiterating the things we say in class about finding your passion and job hunting, writing well and creating content.  Go Blackhawks and good luck!

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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