In this Sports Geek Throwback episode, Sean Callanan interviews Eric Blankenship, who was at the Tampa Bay when episode 126 was recorded. 

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Key Takeaways

The discussion explores the role of social media in sports marketing, emphasizing the impact of real-time engagement on platforms like Twitter (now called X), Instagram, and Snapchat. These platforms enable teams to connect with fans, provide updates, and share behind-the-scenes content.

  • Enhancing the fan experience is crucial for developing a strong global fan base.
  • Understanding user needs and preferences is essential in designing memorable experiences.
  • Real-time engagement on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat is vital for fan engagement.
  • Providing behind-the-scenes content and unique experiences can differentiate a team from others.
  • The constant evolution of social media calls for adaptability and embracing new opportunities.

This transcript has been lightly edited by AI

Sean: So what you can do from a global brand point of view and attract those fans and then how you go about engaging them and potentially monetizing them, is the next question. But it's very much an offer compared to, say, your first stint at the Lightning. Global fans and talking to these fans around the world wasn't even an option. Whereas now, like you said, through the advent of social and digital, it's now available. A good friend of mine, Natalle Brown, who's been on the podcast when she was at The Storm and now she's at Collingwood, she puts her hand up and says she's Australia's biggest Lightning fan.

Eric: I like it.

Sean: She was so excited when I said I was going to be talking to you. She actually gave me some of the questions, she was so excited. So I will connect you with Natalle, but tell us a little bit about the Distant Thunder campaign and how you've gone about identifying some of these fans.

Eric: Distant Thunder is a very interesting story. During our Stanley Cup playoff run when we ultimately went to the finals against Chicago, not this past season but the season before… So, we work with a local agency to do some of the things that we do, especially when it comes to our overall brand, look and feel for the season. They also help us quite a bit on our radio and TV creative. Great local company that, actually ironically enough, just opened an office in London. They're called Dunn & Co. They're literally based five minutes from us here.

But anyway, I remember the owner of the company came into my office, and this is during playoff time, so things are hectic, things are crazy and he says, “Hey Eric, I have an idea.” I'm like “What?” He goes, “I want to send some guys to Brazil.” I'm like, “Okay, why?” He says, “Well, we have a Lightning fan in Brazil and we kind of want to talk to him.” I was like, “What?” And he goes, “Yeah, I think it might be kind of cool” and I literally kind of blew it off and I'm like, “Okay, whatever.” Because the bottom line is, they do such great work with us and they're very in tune with our brand and what we stand for. So if he felt compelled enough to ask me to send people to Brazil, I was like, “You know what, I trust you. Go ahead and do it.” Little did I know that that would be the start of something quite big.

Sean: I will forward it and include it in the show notes.

Eric: Great. But anyway, we basically found out this guy is in Brazil and he's a huge Lightning fan. And I'm talking like one of those P-1 Lightning fans that all of us clamor for. Lives and breathes Lightning. Listens to us, watches us, wears our gear, spreads the word about The Lightning. But the interesting part of the story is, he'd never been to the States, he'd never been to a Lightning game. There's really no connection to The Lightning. So we were wondering how the heck did this happen? I don't want to spoil too much of it because I can honestly tell you, when I watch his video, and I've seen the video 50 times, it legitimately makes me pause and really appreciate what I do and how lucky I am to be doing what I do for the Tampa Bay Lightning in this market, because it gives you a real good indication of how important what we do can be.

Sean: That's terrific. And like I said, when I sent that to Natalle and said, “Hey, check this out,” she said, “I'm all over that.” So I will definitely connect you with Natalle because she might put her hand up and say she's Australia's biggest Lightning fan. And I don't doubt her at all.

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