This past week both the Capitals and the Golden Knights won a Stanley Cup Final game for the first time in franchise history. The only difference: The Caps have been around since 1974 and it’s the Golden Knights inaugural season. In the PR world, it’s interesting to take some time to reflect on what has made the Golden Knights so successful, not just on the ice, but off the ice as well.
From a mesmerizing pregame introduction to a social media presence that has been on point from the start, us PR folks can learn some lessons from the Vegas Golden Knights. Not only did the Golden Knights need to find a way to make their mark on a non-traditional hockey market, they also had the tall task of generating and maintaining a fan base in a market that had never been the home to a major professional sport.
In thinking about the creation of a team, there are many elements that come into play: hiring a general manager, naming coaches, building a roster, you know… the parts that involve the actual game of hockey, but in order to create a fan base the first step was to build a brand.
Vegas nailed it. In thinking about the nature of the community, it’s all about the show. From concerts and shows, to gambling, to extravagant hotels, everything in Vegas has to be strikingly exciting to garner attention. You don’t go to Vegas to chill and there is nothing chill about this hockey team, except for maybe the ice they play on.
Let’s start off with the logo. Their name shines through in their logo, a shield including a knight’s helmet with the negative space in the shape of a V. Its simple, yet intriguing and nobly screams something along the lines of, “We know it’s our first season, but we are going to be one of the last two teams standing.” A key to building a brand is having a logo that captures the essence of your organization and Vegas successfully did this.
Along with the logo comes a mascot. Every team has a mascot, but Vegas has taken this mascot and brought its pregame show to the next level. Through the course of a hockey game you may get to see some players drop the gloves and throw some punches, but before the game evens starts in Vegas, a spectator gets to witness a full blown medieval sword fight. Just watch:
No, this is not a Broadway musical, nor is it Disney on ice, this is just a five-minute pre-game hype show before you get to witness, in my opinion, the most exciting, fastest paced sport out there… an element that DEFINITELY attracts the non-traditional hockey fan.
Lastly, the Golden Knights social media handles have been key since the beginning. Before they even had a roster, they were tweeting about current events and cracking jokes about themselves. For example, take a look at these tweets ahead of the Mayweather McGregor Fight that took place at their soon to be home arena. See below:
Not only did they start off with a great sense of humor, they also made sure to engage with each and every fan who sent a tweet their direction, responding to anything and everything. This personal engagement can make followers feel important, thus once again building up the fan base.
Congrats to the Vegas Knights on a successful first year (in public relations), but just so everyone knows it’s the #CAPSYEAR and the Stanley Cup WILL belong to Washington.