Communication Lessons From the Philadelphia 76ers

How one fan's social media strategy led to a dream job. 

Lisa B. Marshall,
January 6, 2012
Episode #140

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What do the Philadelphia 76ers CE0 Adam Aron and recent Penn State graduate Jerry Rizzo have in common?  Turns out, quite a bit. They are both savvy communicators, entrepreneurial, and now, they both work for the same organization.  

Communication Success Story

Here's the story.  Recently, the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team ran a contest to choose their next mascot. Fan Jerry Rizzo and his friend Hunter Coleman decided to give the contest a little social media love—which included creating Twitter accounts on behalf of the possible new mascots. Turns out, Rizzo is a striving social media marketing pro.

The Twitter introduction for Phil E. Moose read “Just your average slam dunking moose trying to make it in the City of Brotherly Love as the future mascot of the @Sixers.” The Tweets were equally clever. For example: "Raise your hoof to the roof! Keep voting for your favorite Broad St. Bull." and "It's a Dogg eat Moose world." 

As these profiles began to gain attention and momentum, the team sent an email to Rizzo asking him to stop Tweeting and hand over the accounts.  Instead of simply giving up, Rizzo put his communication skills to good use and called the team to negotiate a deal; box seats in exchange for the accounts. 

I love this story because it clearly demonstrates how effective communication strategies lead to success.

The story gets even better. The 76ers CEO Adam Aron recognized the situation as an opportunity. No, not an opportunity to sue. But instead, an opportunity to show support for an enthusiastic, clever fan and to help the team.  Aron reviewed Jerry's online portfolio, interviewed him, and ultimately offered him a position as the team’s social media coordinator. Way to go Jerry Rizzo!

I love this story because it clearly demonstrates how effective communication strategies lead to success. Allow me to break down what went right:  

Use Brand Icons to Engage Fans 

Rizzo, who studied communication understood, that people prefer to interact with brand icons instead of with brands.  For example, my current favorite brand icon that is doing especially well in social media is All State's Mayhem. You’ve probably seen this series of commercials in which a guy represents all the bad things that can happen to your house, your car, your life. (I posted a funny example to my blog).

Rizzo recognized the missing element of the 76ers’ contest and very cleverly and professionally represented the newly-created potential team icons.