Just An Online Minute... NHL Tweetup, I'm Lovin' It
NHL Tweetup, NHL Store, New York
April 15, 2009
Prepare yourself, my little Internet pals, for a Twitter-chubby column today. Brace yourself against the Tweetspeak, the "@" signs, the handles, the hashtags. It's unavoidable because last night I covered a Tweetup - an in-the-skin gathering of people who "know" each other on Twitter. That's right, it's the "do your spunky 140 characters-or-less blurbs translate into reality?" test. And it all happened in the NHL store on 6th Avenue, as the NHL hosted their very first ever hockey fan Tweetup with The Rangers playing on the store's Stay-Puff-Marshmallow-Man-sized screen, icy-cold (and lukewarm) bottles of Bud Light, and flashback inducing McDonald's. That's right, I said McDonald's.
Believe me I scoffed when I saw "food provided by McDonald's" because I don't think it's ever NOT up for debate whether or not they should get away with calling it food. However, when bag after bag of warm and sloppy burgers and fries wafted by the hockey fans last night, you could have created a slip n slide with the puddles of drool. Whoever stood up in that meeting and said, "Yo, why don't we have McDonald's" over the guy that suggested Domino's deserves a raise. Everyone I talked to in between stuffing fry after greasy fry into my mouth had some college flashback tale to tell revolving around McDonald's. Instant nostalgia in the form of Chicken McNuggets. @davidweiner (David Weiner), Manager, Emerging Media for PR Newswire, shared his nuggets with me even though I was afraid of those weird little boingy pieces -- you know what I'm talking about. David was hanging out by a table of long-sleeved tees with April Dinwoodie of Six Degrees of Service.
Attracted by the smell of commerce and nuggets, Dave Ford, founder of Branded Evolution, joined our little circle, where discussion turned away from hangover cures in the form of two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese -- to The Shorty Awards and the ongoing debate in many circles of its value and seriousness. The big topic was whether or not it was just a money maker or a real event to honor creators of inspiring short content. But let's get to hockey, why don't we?
I found @cmarzi84 (Caty Marzi) ultimate Rangers fan and ESPNer lost in a sea of Rangers, Penguins, Capitals, and Red Wings Jerseys. Corey Kronengold (@ckronengold), formerly of Tremor Media, currently of himself, was one of the first people I interrupted last night as I body checked him at the door. Rob Manfredo, PR dude at KCSA, and a man not afraid to don a hockey mask in public (we did some stress-testing of the equipment with Dave Milne of eChalk punching him in the head), rounded out the social media nerd clique.
This is going to sound really stupid, and I said it out loud the whole night, but I was pleasantly surprised to see so many REAL hockey fans in attendance, not just the social media/tech crowd jumping on a Tweetup to promote and network. You could spot the real fans by their jerseys, their uninhibited yelps and grimaces, and their "I don't care what that guy on the mic (@umassdilo AKA Michael DiLorenzo, NHL Director of Communications and the guy who planned one of the best Tweetups ever) is saying, the freakin' Rangers just scored!" hooting, and perhaps, just perhaps, the strangest victory shuffle I have ever seen. What a great opportunity for the Twittering hockey superfan last night was. It sure beats dropping hundreds of dollars on a ticket, right?
As I wandered the room grabbing shots of @dani3boyz, @katrina_doell (Katrina Doell), a raffle entering @smalrus (ha!), @supinski, @jackie0626, @noyoureatowel (ha again!), the Special Ops duo of @NewYorkRangers and @SalamanderP ("You can tell we're creatives because of our beards"), and the photo-bombing Anthony Iaffaldano of Reprise Media, I unknowingly paparazzi'd "One Life to Live" actors Thorsten Kaye and Susan Haskell and the cutest little blond girl ever. Sean Whalen, NHL VP of Content and New Media and NHL.com personality/reporter Heidi Androl were also taking in the game and the goodies.
Oh my goodness, how could I forget -- The Stanley Cup stopped by! Carried in by his gloved handlers, The Stanley Cup drew longing gazes from people walking by the store. Drawn to shiny things, even I posed with the cup of champions. After the Tweetup I went against my better judgment and formed a mini Tweetup with @ davidweiner, @robmanfredo, and @daveford88 where the evening took a strange turn to include NYPD horses getting friendly with drunken tourists, a freaky Baltimore six degrees of separation (Hi, Jeremy Young!), guest bartending, tech/media social scene coaching, and other undocumentables. I never would have had a chance to bond with the aforementioned group if the NHL hadn't seen value in gathering its Twitter-using fans together in one spot to have longer than 140-character conversations. I'll bet everyone walked away last night with new friends, new game-watching buddies, and maybe even (I say this with a grimace) new business connections. Hooray, Twitter!