It has.t been the best of times for the New Jersey Devils thus far, not by a long shot. Injuries, poor timing the adjustment of new players have seen a team that has been traditionally atop the standings in the NHL now amongst its bottom as the seaso.s first month comes to a close.
Now on other years from a brand and community standpoint the lack of wins could be a death knell. For years New Jersey was a team that was all about what happened on the ice, with little going on off of it, at least for their fans. However a good deal of that has changed in recent years, and it is because of that change that the brand, and the bottom line, can remain relevant and strong until the on-ice products right itself.
What are some examples of change in the proactive way the Devils are promoting their value in the communit.? Take a look at Wednesday nigh.s game against the Sabres at the Pru, where the on-ice and on-air events between periods featured extensive promos for an upcoming Food Bank rally along with the unveiling of the new New Jersey Devils custom designed license plates. Broadcasts now come from the lounges in the Pru as opposed to buried in a studio, and give those tuning in more of a sense of the goings-on with the business of the team than ever before. Owner Jeff Vanderbeek and crew went county by county this summer and fall listening to fans and hosting events designed to shore up the teams image and its connection to the community so that discretionary income would come north to Newark for sports fans, and not go to other activities..More fan friendly promotions dot the schedule, and more outreach is done by staff on a daily basis to make it clear that the Devils are New Jerse.s team, and one which wants its plans firmly imprinted in the grassroots not just of the hockey community, but of every town where there is an interest in having a fun time.
The Devils also play in the most proactive league in professional sports with regard to social media (the NHL), and that is reflected in the enhanced outreach and coverage the team gets online. While the economy and the slow start will not boost media coverage in the traditional way, coverage can be enhanced as more and more fans turn to social media outlets for updates, information and added value events.
In some ways the Devils approach has followed what their building mates, the Nets, have done in trying to build buzz despite a subpar on court product. However one big difference is that the Devils are building in New Jersey for a long future, and their building blocks will look much more to the south and west while the Nets look east toward their anticipated final stop in Brooklyn in a few years..Therefore both are effective in their own way, and in turn, by using such a proactive approach, can have the umbrella ready for the rainy performance day, still giving the fan a reason to come back no matter what the result is.
What does such an approach buy the Devil.? Simple. Fan loyalty and affinity at a time when it is needed most and in other years there was none. A slow start five or six years ago would have meant an empty building and no buzz around the team at all. Now it means there is a base, hope that things will turn around, and in the meantime, a reason to follow and enjoy the team despite the record. The smartest brands always look for the rain on the horizon and plan accordingly, even on the sunniest of days. By growing their grassroots and social media efforts during better times the last few years, the Devils have made sure they have the right umbrella as the rain falls on the ice this November.