Lessons from the 2015 NFL Draft


Inside of 'The Huddle', the Social Media Command Center.


Earlier this month, I had an incredible opportunity to volunteer with the amazing team over at Choose Chicago for the NFL Draft. This was the first time in over fifty years that the Draft had not been in NYC and it was a pretty huge deal for the city. I was in awe at the production of the three day event which brought out hundreds of thousands of fans. Even as a professional, I love to volunteer as often as I can within the industry because with social media the learning never stops. Here are a few keys things I picked up from my experience:


On Paying Attention To Detail:

“People want more experiences in their life and the little things make a difference.” - Dawn Hudson Chief Marketing Officer, NFL

The Draft, as you would expect, had a huge turnout. Over 200,000 people ventured through the fan-driven experience and the NFL left no stone unturned. From the layout of the activities, to types of small prizes shared, to creating virtual touch points for fans to connect with the brand after the event, the small things shined through during the event.

On Customer Experience:

“For many people, this [NFL Draft] is their SuperBowl. Many won’t ever get a chance to even see a professional game in person. This is their chance to connect with the NFL and we have to make sure we’re creating amazing experiences.” - Peter O’Reilly Senior Vice President of Events, NFL

Fans First was the theme of the weekend and the brand wasted no time emphasizing this simple motto. As lead volunteers, we were expected to uphold a very high standard of customer service to ensure that this experience was memorable. This experience really reminded me of how the NFL is a part of American culture and has different meanings for people of all backgrounds and ethnicities and the brand does a great job of putting the customer first.

On Excellence:

“We strive for perfection but we settle for excellence.” - Fernando Beltran Engagement Manager, Disney Institute 

Each interaction with the organization called for volunteers to embrace excellence as their commitment during the Brand experience. Going above and beyond wasn’t just a theme for the weekend, it’s a theme for the brand overall. Fernando’s quote really stuck out to me as I think about my own professional development in that perfection is never attainable but quality is non-negotiable. 


I’d like to work on helping brands prepare for real-time events from a social/digital standpoint and I’m hoping this volunteer experience will lead me to build out my best practices for major live events and conferences. The energy of the entire event was awesome to experience and yes, I even got to keep the jacket. :-)

Special thank you to Nycole Hampton and Mike Paradiso for allowing me to be work alongside Choose Chicago. 

Interested in learning how I'd like to help brands prepare for real-time events?

Email me: melissa@melissakimble.com

NOTE: All quotes were taken directly from the speakers at the Fans First training and all pics are property of Melissa Kimble.