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NBC, NHL partner to integrate social media with Winter Classic broadcast

The National Hockey League struck marketing gold when it held its first Winter Classic in 2008. The annual outdoor game played on New Year's Day has become the must-watch event of the season, earning praise from both die-hard and casual hockey fans alike.

This year, the NHL and NBC,the television broadcaster for the game, are taking an extra step to promote the game. The two recently announced a partnership to integrate the game's broadcast with a social media campaign, in a move that could benefit both organizations.

"We're running the social and broadcast integration to test the effectivenessand examine the data," Michael DiLorenzo, senior director of social media marketing and strategy at the NHL. "It should grow our Facebook Fan base, becausepeople must 'like' the page to play. It also will build a window into the event for those who may not be in front of the television."

The idea is to get even more fans tuned in and engaged with the game, according to the social media consulting firm that is running the campaign.

Several "watch and win" contests will be featured prominently on both NBCand the NHL's Facebook and Twitter pages. Contestants that are fans of either on Facebook or Twitter followers will have a chance to win either a Honda CR-Z automobile, or trips for four to both Universal Orlando Studios and the upcoming 2011 NHL All-Star Game.

Both the NHL and NBCaren't new to such social media campaigns, but this is the first time they have collaborated on one.

Beginning December 23, NBCwill begin taking photo submissions from fans of its Facebook page. Several of the photos will be selected to air during the game. The network will also promote the social media campaign throughout the day leading up to the game, such as during the RoseBowl college football game.

The NHL has planned its first promotional Tweet for December 31. During the game, the NHL may ask fans to retweet messagesand the first to reply will win a prize.

This year will be the fourth installment of the Winter Classic. The Washington Capitals will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field, normally the home of the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers. Other Winter Classic locations have included Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston.

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NBC, NHL partner to integrate social media with Winter Classic broadcast