Talented alumnus drives social media strategies for Philadelphia 76ers

As a College of Communications student, Jerry Rizzo learned a valuable lesson: Don’t be good at one thing; be good at everything.

Now Rizzo, who graduated in 2011 with a degree in public relations, is demonstrating his broad skill set as the social media coordinator for the Philadelphia 76ers. He manages everything regarding the team’s online presence, and Rizzo is hoping to re-energize the Philadelphia basketball community through his work on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and YouTube.

Rizzo created a lot of buzz in December when he landed a job with the Sixers after he and friend, Hunter Coleman, who earned his Penn State degree in kinesiology in 2011, took it upon themselves to promote the team’s new mascot contest.

The contest was offered only on the Sixers’ website, so Rizzo and Coleman created Twitter accounts for two of the mascots in hopes of driving traffic to the site. Phil E. Moose (@PhilEMoose)and B. Franklin Dogg (@BFranklinDogg) became a hit.

“I started tweeting and driving people to the site and having fun with it,” Rizzo said. Rizzo said he kept the accounts clean and professional and linked everything back to the Sixers’ website. He managed to connect with thousands of fans as well as local television and radio personalities that cover Philadelphia sports.

“I received an overwhelming response,” he said. “A lot of people were in to what I was tweeting and getting excited about the voting.”

Eventually, the Sixers realized that it was not an employee helping with the promotion and asked the pair to turn over the Twitter accounts. Rizzo and Coleman received season tickets, and shortly after, Rizzo received a job offer.

Rizzo said the new team owner, Adam Aron, was looking to engage fans in new ways and was pleased with Rizzo’s background in social media. Now, Rizzo spends his days interacting with as many people as possible. He works closely with Sixers’ public relations, community relations, marketing and ticket sales departments in order to strategize message delivery and to get fans talking about the team.

“My goal is to really open ourselves up to the Philly community and allow them to see inside of our organization,” he said.

Some new approaches include mobile promotions, live tweeting during games and starting conversations on the team’s Facebook page. Rizzo said the page now has 30,000 daily users who are commenting, “liking” posts, asking questions and sharing with other fans. He constantly pulls both positive and negative comments from the page and analyzes them to see how the team can be better.

“One of the most beautiful things about social media is the outsourcing aspect,” he said. “We look to our fans as a resource on the outside and know that they’ll let us know if we’re missing anything.”

Rizzo hopes to help the Sixers become a leader in new media in the NBA and to use those platforms to meet all of the organization’s goals -- as well as have a little bit of fun.

“My favorite thing about it is waking up every day and having a new task, a new challenge,” Rizzo said. “It’s just been really cool.”

Contacts: 
Last Updated February 10, 2012