The Miami Heat Goes MIA


A few hours ago, I watched “The Decision” on ESPN and Lebron made his announcement. He’s Miami bound. So, I decided to click over to the Heat’s official Twitter page to see what they had to say and I discovered the unimaginable. They were speechless. Hadn’t tweeted a peep in over six hours.

Where were they I asked? How could they not show up to their own party? Did the NBA make them sit on their thumbs? Nope, because other NBA teams were active even though things didn’t net out as they’d hoped.

This was their time to shine. The spotlight doesn’t get much warmer than this. It was important for them to have a presence especially in the HEAT of their moment. The team just spent nearly $300 million on three people and the World was talking about them.

This was a land grab. Brand new eager fans and old fans with renewed hopes were ready to take a step up on their loyal fan ladder. They would have loved to hear from the official voice of the team. Instead, they heard an outdated message. The Heat’s Twitter page was still trying to recruit D. Wade who announced 48 hours prior that he was committed to their team along with Bosh.

What happened to the human behind the brand? Did the social media intern go on vacation? Thumb sprain perhaps? Maybe the Twitter password was misplaced? Nope, because Facebook was the same. I was expecting to see a virtual pep rally or live video of Will Smith performing “Welcome to Miami.” but instead I heard crickets.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have Chris Bosh and D. Wade streaming live from the court? Maybe a little Miami Thrice music playing up and under? J. Lo could have popped in to do the happy dance with crowned Heat dancers? They could have RT’d all the celebs who were celebrating, or simply expose the emotion inside the office. The Miami Heat was the glue to make a production like this happen and tell the story . . .  virtually . . . live.

There were missed sponsorship opportunities as well. The Heat could have sold their twitter background, integrated marketing partners who are welcoming King James with open arms (and open checkbooks).

Then about an hour later, they arrived. Well, kinda. They shared the same quotes from their coach that we’re also live on TV. Fans want photos, exclusive video, things nobody else can hear, what insiders are saying, what it’s like to work in the front office right now . . . these are things that only the Heat could have provided. Nobody else on this planet had access like they did. Opportunity missed.

Lesson: This space is alive and it doesn’t turn off. You can’t disappear all of a sudden because fans will stop trusting you. Fans are GRADING you at all times.

And, the way Lebron and Dan Gilbert handled this is another post.



  1. Could not agree more. The missed opportunity here is simply dumbfounding. I would understand if their brand has never participated in social media, but considering the Heat have rather visible Facebook and Twitter pages there is little excuse. In the end this shows that brands, especially those in entertainment, need to have a dedicated social media manager in house. At the very least assign a qualified marketing manager to handle the accounts along with their other duties.

  2. Very well said. I was noticing the same thing earlier tonight. Clicked over to the @MiamiHEAT account and was shocked they didn’t tweet anything since earlier in the day or put up a new wallpaper featuring the new trio. They had sooo much time to plan this. Even if Lebron didn’t tell them ahead of time, they should have had everything pre-made JUST IN CASE. Their loss.

  3. perhaps they (the execs from the Heat) saw some people saying “get a life. Why does this guy (Lebron) think he’s worthy of a “special” to announce where he’s going as if it’s the biggest sports news in history?” Because, It wasn’t the biggest sports news in history. What it showed was players aren’t what they used to be. They don’t always possess leadership or loyalty. Sad, really.

    This didn’t really cause people to become Heat fans if they weren’t already. And I’d actually be curious to see what kind of negative impact it might have.

    Sometimes it’s better to not say anything at all.

    And if you want to say (again) “proceeds from the advertising during the special went to the Boys and Girls Club”…. um he could have just as easily made the announcement and handed a check to the B&G club from HIS OWN POCKET as opposed from sponsors’ pockets.

    You Keep On With Your Bad Self

  4. I don’t know much about the rules around NBA free agency, but would a franchise be allowed to use an unsigned player in its marketing communications? LeBron is not legally/contractually bound to the Heat yet. Either way, I suppose they shoulda/coulda said something rather than going dark …

  5. Very well put Amy! You are, as always, dead on!
    It blows me away how much more often than not, people miss opportunities. Only Tweeting/Posting from 9-5. It is imperative to know when and how your target audience uses Social Media and I can’t imagine having all eyes on you and being MIA….too bad, so sad!
    They need to hire you!

  6. I have to agree. I am glad you are saving the Dan Gilbert and Lebron side of things for another post.

    I could not imagine not having the HEAT marketing team not doing something during this. You arrange for an hour presser and then have nothing to show for it. I think it is important to teams to realize that the social world is not a 9-5 job and neither is the sports world. So when something big like this happens. They need to be there for the breaking story. They nee to monitor and to realize there is sponsorship out there for this kind of thing.

    I personally did not watch. I did not feel the need to see it. I had a Twitter feed which was blowing up.

  7. Thank you all for the feedback.

    Duc, You’re right. There was plenty of time to plan for this situation. I guarantee the Knicks had a plan locked and loaded.

    ScribeDevil, Admittedly, there are things the team can and can’t do at this stage but there are definitely ways to express excitement, acknowledge the epic situation and reciprocate.

    Kalvin, Regardless if this was the biggest sports news in history or not, the fact is that people all over the world were watching in great volume (worldwide trending topic) and the team is spending nearly $300 million on this trio. However, my post refers to how the Miami Heat decided to address the situation, not Lebron’s decision. As a side note, my research shows Lebron has done a substantial amount of charitable giving out of his own pocket.

    Combined, James, Wade and Bosh have 17 All-Star selections, 2 MVPs, 3 All-Star Game MVPs, 1 NBA Finals MVP and 2 scoring titles. And, they have a team president who has won 6 NBA championships as a player and coach. Most definitely the Miami Heat has gained new fans as a result of Lebron’s decision to join the team. Just like the Bulls gained new fans when Jordan landed in Chicago.

  8. DR, You make great points espeically in today’s social media frenzied world… Did they leave mindshare and some money out on the internet “table” proably but so is their mantra – not about money, not about ego, it’s about winning NBA Championship$ – you have to respect a brand, especially a “performing” brand that doesn’t get caught up in the hype and let’s its performance speak louder than any words. It’s not about NBA restrictions or interns asleep at the Co-Tweet wheel… Media hasn’t won any NBA championships… It’s about team play, leadership and focus. That’s something that comes from top of the organization a.k.a. Pat Riley. The Miami Heat’s time to shine will be over the coming years on the basketball court. Just gotta respect brands that just DO!

  9. Missed opportunity, yes, at a big moment for not just the Heat burt the NBA. That said my only fear is the NBA – or other pro sports leagues – diaplacing control of media and voice from the team and managing at the association level. I know you’re not alluding to this and hopefully it would never go that route. Regarding Gilbert, part of me has been waiting for the follow-up saying that his account was hacked. I mean, really?!?

  10. I think the intern was at the sports bar partying in the clip ESPN showed right when LBJ announced he was headed to South Beach. They probably could have added some more flair to the whole thing, but they looked more like they were going to be low key about the whole thing. For now.

    LeBron in South Beach is huge, and what will be more interesting is what they do/don’t do with Gilbert up there basically turning this into something personal. Lots of great chances for marketing and PR there.

    But I too was looking for something extra on the new signings. After all, they did rename Dade County to “Wade County” temporarily to get D Wade to say.

    Should be fun to watch what they do here and if the Heat mess this up, they got bigger issues then figuring our how to balance payrolls and sign roll players.

  11. TheSouris, Agreed, actions speak louder than tweets. However, the Fans and Marketing Partners are paying for those players they’ve recruited to win championships. It is about the money. Loyal fans and marketing partners who see results spend more which allows the team to spend more on the talent they put on the court. I learned this firsthand while working for an NBA team.

    Also, why were they still trying to recruit D Wade when he was already on board? This was an oversight or lack of time/resource dedicated to social media. Their website didn’t have the outdated D.Wade message posted. What they didn’t do was keep up, prove they were at least listening to fans and respond to them.

    Andy, great point. My jaw dropped while seeing all of this go down (Dan’s letter, Cleveland riots) and no doubt it made an impact on the entire NBA brand. Do you think the league office is revising the team’s social media policy and website content approval process/rights right now? The governing body has the final say at the end of the day but the owners/presidents are part of that decision-making group so hopefully there’s a balance. It’s amazing how sports can bring out the emotion in people.

  12. I wondered when Tubbs and Crockett would hit the scene. Actually, as New Yorker, when I see Crockett in parallel with LeBron, what pops into my mind is “You Belong to the City.”

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