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Winning Fan Engagement with the Blackhawks and the Golden Knights: All Your Questions Answered

Winning Fan Engagement with the Blackhawks and the Golden Knights: All Your Questions Answered

The Chicago Blackhawks have six Stanley Cups, 92 years on the ice, and more Twitter and Facebook followers than any other team in the NHL. Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights are making history as the most successful NHL expansion team ever, building a loyal fanbase in the team’s inaugural season.

We wanted to know what would happen if we brought these two teams together off the ice to talk fan engagement and visual storytelling, so we asked Blackhawks Manager of Photography Chase Agnello-Dean and Golden Knights Official Team Photographer Jeff Bottari to take us behind the scenes.

In our on-demand webinar, Winning Fan Engagement with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vegas Golden Knights, Chase and Jeff shared their top visual storytelling tips and takeaways to inspire your brand’s marketing and creative strategy (and made a few jokes along the way).

Watch the on-demand webinar to learn about:

  • Tips for capturing your brand’s stories
  • The best equipment, tools and workflow strategies to use
  • What kind of photography works to engage fans before, during and after events


Scroll through the Q&A with Chase and Jeff below to get the answers to our questions from the audience, and be sure to tweet any more questions for our experts @getlibris!

And, be sure to check out more of our Libris Visual Storytelling Webinars to go behind the scenes with teams like the Colorado Rockies, the Sacramento Kings and the Baltimore Ravens.

Q&A with Blackhawks Manager of Photography Chase Agnello-Dean and Golden Knights Official Team Photographer Jeff Bottari

How do you build trust with players and team staff? How do you get the access you need? What are some tips for doing that?

Chase: For me, you have to be around every day. You can’t just show up and hope that you showing up twice a week makes them comfortable. It’s being there for the good, it’s being there for the bad. And it’s also sometimes shooting some photos that are wildly hysterical that you know shouldn’t go anywhere, and them knowing you’re not going to send them. You’re not going to share them and if they ever need anything, they can get it from you. So it’s the accessibility, and you almost have to wear them down by constantly being there. That’s always been kind of what’s worked for me with these guys.

Photo management — where and how are you storing your photos to allow those who need them to be able to find them easily?

Jeff: We’re all using PhotoShelter here. It’s just one of those things where organization is key and having it all in PhotoShelter and being able to assign contacts to be able to have certain access within the organization, and giving people that should have the access to organize and to store the photos correctly is half the battle. You don’t want to have too many people on it, that can kind of create chaos sometimes so you just want to put the right people in charge – speaking to Chase, I know he’s got a couple people on staff that he can probably trust and manage his archive correctly, and that’s key. It’s giving the right people the right access.

Chase: 100% agree. Not everyone needs access to everything. It just causes problems so find a couple people you really trust and build a system that works around that.

I want to ask about Blackhawks’ red overlay treatment they use on photos on social media. It gives them a very distinctive look. Who made that decision, what’s the workflow, is there a preset?

Chase: So, at the beginning of the season, our designers and our creative director will all sit down to come up with the theme they want to work with next year and they’ll run it past social and make sure they’re on board with it, and then they build a template. They build a Photoshop template that is a plug and play for our social media staff. And it’s the same kind of template for intermission graphics and for everything else. It’s fairly simple. They get the photos off of the server, they plug them in and off they go.

So the Chicago Blackhawks has 90+ years of photography. The Golden Knights have less than one year. How do the Golden Knights keep their fans engaged with new content all the time?

Jeff: I think it’s a mixture of straight up photo assets, like live in-game or a specific event. If you follow a lot of the Vegas Golden Knights Instagram and Twitter, you’ll see that there are actually some other assets beyond just the straight photos – you know, like Chase showed, too – the design team in-house will come up with certain stories or stats that they want to promote and pre-build, let’s say, a Photoshop file, and they’re basically waiting for photo assets to be kind of the background content for that. Once the photos that they want are chosen, based on whether it’s a victory celebration or whatever the asset may be, they’ll plug it directly into the Photoshop file, create the social media asset that they want, and then promote it right away. So it’s kind of a mixture. Obviously, you have to have a balance, so it depends on your marketing team and the strategies that are put in place, but you don’t necessarily want it to be all photos all the time. Sometimes you need a mix of photo and graphics and text, obviously depending on what strategy you’re pushing for.

Do you have strobes in the arena or do you use natural light?

Chase: I’m on strobes at the United Center.

Jeff: I’m on natural light. The good thing about the new T. Mobile Arena is that the LED lighting is tremendous and it’s brand new, whereas, I’m sure, Chase, if you were to shoot available it would be a lot tougher because of just being in an older building, depending on the lighting situation. Each building is going to be completely unique to the city so it just depends. The newer buildings are better, it’s not always a guarantee. Sometimes I wish I had strobes, but at the same time, the available light is so good that we don’t need it.

Cover photo courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Next Up: [Video] How the Chicago Blackhawks Engage a Massive Fanbase

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