Back to work

How do you spot the journalists in the room?

We don’t applaud.

That was my funny ha-ha for the morning at the #smbyyc, a gathering for social-networking enthusiasts to share our knowledge.

‘Journalist’ is a tag I’ll own until I die, no matter the love-hate relationship the industry and I have for each other.

It kicked me out in 2006 and I love to criticize it.Out of the business for four years, I’m dusting off my figurative fedora and diving back into the game.

For one week only.

OK … three and a half days.

I’m one of four bloggers hired by Molson Coors Canada to blog, Tweet and share the World Hockey Summit next week in Toronto.

This is a cherry assignment. It takes No. 1 spot over the 1998 NHL All-Star Game in Vancouver and the 2006 World Figure Skating Championships in Calgary. At this point, the 1996 Ford World Curling Championships in Kamloops don’t even register a beat.

And sorry about your luck, Gander Senior Flyers.

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The World Hockey Summit is a meeting of the great minds of hockey — from team executives to players and league big wigs — and they’ll be laying a path for global growth of the game, skill development and more.

Fans are welcome to participate. In fact, their opinions are welcome and encouraged.

And that’s where we come in. Torontonians Darrin Reynolds and Justin Kendrick, Richard Loat of Vancouver and I are charged with passing what we learn at Summit onto the fans who can’t be there.

The question many of you may ask is why?

Why would Molson use amateurs — yes, I pleaded with the journalism gods for a return to amateur status — instead of professional public relations personnel to convey the message?

The answer is quite simple, says Tonia Hammer, social media pro on Molson’s Community Relations team.

“We wanted to allow virtual access to the hockey summit to the legion of hockey fans who are passionate about Molson Canadian and also to represent the voice of the hockey fan rather than prescribe our own voice/opinion,” she says.

Molson has embraced the realm of social networking, creating a community among their fans and beer drinkers. They have a Molson Insider program on their website, a Facebook page, online-based contests and promotions, and Twitter accounts for many employees in the Community Relations division.

These platforms, Tonia says, allow Molson to have conversations with people who are passionate about their brand.

“That’s how we distinguish it from a marketing channel approach,” she says. “Our communications team, along with CRM and marketing teams understand the power behind social media and use the tools online to listen, understand and engage in the discussions that relate to us.

“Whether Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on, we try to provide dialogue that will educate and entertain beer drinkers along with discussing topics that are relevant to the brand. For example: hockey and Molson Canadian!”

Indeed, Molson Canadian beer and hockey go hand in hand. Many of us grew up with the delightful kissssshh of a beer bottle opening just our dads eased into the La-Z-Boy for Saturday night’s game.

And we’re familiar with it ourselves — men and women alike — as we’ve taken up the torch of our forefathers and continued the weekend tradition.

Many of us relate that passion to each other by Tweeting our thoughts on the game we’re watching, Twitpicking from the stadium or starting to blogs to ramble on about team personnel, referee calls, trades and rumours and more.

By being committed to the social space for more than five years, Molson has developed a strong relationship with some of the Canada’s preeminent bloggers and Tweeters, Tonia says.

“In social media, it’s easy to recognize people’s passions,” she says. “As Molson Canadian World Hockey Summit approached a number of key hockey personalities made their way to the top of the list.”

The four individuals, she says, each have a strong following in their own communities and they bring passion and personality to hockey’s social-networking sphere.

Yeah, I’m blushing a little bit right now.

Each one of us — me, Richard, Justin and Darrin — are honoured to have been chosen to represent you at the World Hockey Summit. We encourage you to engage with us on our blogs, the Facebook page, the Summit Twitter stream and our own Twitter feeds.

We look forward to not only informing and entertaining you but also to maybe — just maybe — get to ask one of your questions in the mighty press scrum at the end of each session.

Coming up next: Profiles of your World Hockey Summit bloggers.

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