How Allie Stanton deepens the story of pro hockey through social media
There’s a lot more to Canada’s game than just goals, saves and interviews filled with phrases you already heard in the last intermission. Hockey is filled with stories – moments that connect fans to the players and the atmosphere on the ice, motivating them to yell at the TV a little louder or bang on the glass a little harder.
Allie Stanton lives for those stories, and spends a lot of time at Rogers Place finding them. Two years ago, the third year Marketing student responded to an intriguing job posting that required applicants to have a love for social media and sports. Since then, she’s worked for the National Hockey League as an Edmonton-based, real-time correspondent who helps tell stories through social media.
“There’s someone like me in every NHL market,” says Stanton, who works for both teams at every game. That allows teams that don’t have the capacity to send a full social media crew to each match-up to still share real-time content.
“All of these teams are fighting for entertainment dollars,” says Stanton. In places like Dallas or Toronto, they’re competing with professional basketball, soccer and baseball (in Dallas, there’s also a popular football team to consider). Adding an emotional dimension through social media can make the difference, she says.
A day at the office
At every Edmonton Oilers home game, Stanton takes photos and videos for use by both team’s social media crews, to be posted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. She goes where the action is – whether that’s ice-level, in the stands, on the concourse, or elsewhere.
Her content is intended to make an audience feel something: nostalgia through a photo of a classic jersey, pride with the perfect picture of a goal celebration, or envy with a video of the electric atmosphere in the arena.
Sometimes, the stories are more touching. Recently, Stanton helped gather information and photos for a story about an Anaheim Ducks fan battling ALS who met Ryan Getzlaf at Rogers Place.
Local sports broadcaster and creator and host of the Pro-Am Golf Show, Meg Morrison (Radio and Television ’04) says capturing unscripted emotion is a big part of storytelling, and the spontaneous aspect of social media brings out another side of the athletes.
“Now, with social media, you get to know these guys."
“For years, I would go in [the dressing room] after a win or a loss and get the same answers every single time,” she says. “Now, with social media, you get to know these guys. You get to know more of their personality and it makes you a bigger fan.”
While Morrison doesn’t think social media can ever replace traditional broadcasting, it does deepen the experience for fans, making it more relatable as well as accessible, regardless of location or circumstance.
To do that, Stanton is constantly in game mode. When not at the arena, she’s preparing. Stanton will start scrolling teams’ feeds 36 hours in advance to get a feel for their social media tone and to see if there are ongoing storylines to build on.
That said, she can’t plan too much.
“I can know who the hometown kids are, know if [their] parents are going to be at the game, and know if there are any important moments going on, but that’s the extent of my plan.” She adapts as the game progresses and the narrative takes shape – and knows that the score is only one part of that.
Not about to give up the magic
As a full-time student, Stanton is grateful to be able to contribute to the stories being told in the NHL, and to be immersed in a culture she’s passionate about. The season is now over for her, but she’s eager to get back in the rink.
“I get paid to watch hockey,” she says. She considers the gig a perfect fit. “I always knew I’d work in sports. I didn’t know exactly what I’d do, until this came along.”
“I get paid to watch hockey.”
Being in the midst of the excitement of live sports is something Stanton doesn’t want to give up anytime soon. Eventually, she’d like to work for a single team, continuing to capture the magic happening around her.
“Those moments when you’re standing at the glass, and there’s a little kid beside you, and it’s their first game,” she says.
“You remember that. The best thing about my job is I get to see that. There’s something really special about walking through the arena and thinking about how this is what I get to do.”