Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shaw Park's Full Flex

Imagine a sea of neon colours, people wearing lots of clothing, people wearing barely anything, crazy hair styles and ground-shaking bass.

This was the scene of the Skrillex concert at Shaw Park this summer, home to the Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Club. Skrillex, one of the acts in the Full Flex Express Tour, toured around Canada this summer. The electronic dance music DJ set up on the outdoor stage at the Goldeyes ballpark.

I was the Media Relations Assistant this summer at the Goldeyes, an internship related to my communications studies I was so happy to be given the opportunity to do. I've always loved baseball, and there's nothing better than hearing the sound of your bat "ping" as you smack a ball or the dust that swirls around you as you slide to a base. But in my first week of work with the Goldeyes, perhaps the coolest thing was getting to step on the field. This sounds so dorky, but as soon as my foot touched down on that grassy turf I actually got shivers. It didn't take long for the field to become a platform I felt comfortable walking on.

So imagine my horror when I stepped onto the field at the Skrillex concert only to find it littered with plastic cups, cigarette butts and other garbage. People were also ripping up the grass in clumps to throw at each other. Luckily I wasn't responsible to clean up the mess. And, I ended up having so much fun despite not being a Skrillex fan at all.

Skrillex's demographic is people aged 17 to 27. Having worked at the Goldeyes, my perception of their main demographic is people aged 40 and up and I think many would agree. That being said, despite the hard work needed of the Goldeyes' clean up and field maintenance staff after the concert, I think the Goldeyes organization was exposed to a new, younger audience.

Hosting the Skrillex concert at Shaw Park was a good promotional tactic. Having a bunch of young people party on the field in their local team's ballpark was a new experience for many. Whereas it took me two interviews and a take-home assignment to get the job and be authorized to step on the field, this audience was more than welcome on the grounds.

I'm not implying that young people at the concert didn't know we have a baseball team. But if young people aren't the primary target of the Goldeyes organization, it's harder for them to take notice and by extension, harder for them to care. Just being in the ballpark (and not to watch a game) alone can spark an interest in the venue and what that venue serves. In this case, the good ol' game of baseball.

Here are some pictures I snapped with my iPhone at the concert:

The field, before and after the concert:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Burke might save the Bombers

Burke - thank you for addressing how fans are upset, because your GM doesn't understand the importance of it.

I'm wouldn't consider myself a Blue Bombers fan. And I wouldn't consider myself a big football fan. However, I'm a fan of Winnipeg sport teams, and if that means I have to be happy if (that is the big concern, if) the Bombers ever win a football game.

We had a discussion about the Bomber's media relations last week in my PR class, and response was much the same: the Bombers organization needs to do a better job communicating to their fans what the heck is going on in the organization.

A list of the chaos that has been the Bomber's organization as of late:
- an unfinished stadium
- poor team roster
- firing of former coach LaPolice
- hiring of GM Joe Mack
- banning of water bottles and noise makers that can act as projectiles.
 (If you're curious to know more, you can visit my recent post about the Bomber's backlash).

It's too late for the head of the Bomber's Media Relations to address the media. GM Joe Mack is already the most prominent face of the organization. The problem? Joe Mack is bad at doing press conferences. The "milk and cookies will be served after" comment is among the many things that are making fans shake their head at Joe Mack.

The Bombers need key messaging and they don't seem to have any - or at least their efforts are not working. I read an article today in the Winnipeg Free Press, which you can read here. Interim head coach Tim Burke showed his players video their poor on-field performance from their last game against Calgary. More than that, he showed them how immature their behaviour was, mainly how players were goofing off on the sidelines.

Burke says "This is your resume. This is what people in the outside world are thinking about you...It’s embarrassing...We should act in a professional manner. You’re getting paid to play as hard as you can play. We did not play as hard as we could play. That’s evident."

The Bombers Media Relations Dept. should thank Burke for what he said next: "The good people of Winnipeg pay good money to come watch them play, and this is an attendance driven league. Their salaries are being paid by the fans of Winnipeg, so they deserve more than what they’re getting."

Wow! This is what fans have been wanting to hear all along. Now was that so difficult? Fans want to know management is doing something - not just making excuses - about the team's poor performance. I believe many fans were relieved to hear Burke say this, and I believe it's a step in the right direction for the organization's communication efforts. 

Tim Burke

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPhone 5 - light, powerful...hassel?

The new iPhone was released today! As an Apple product user, I shared the anticipation with everyone else.

With a bigger screen, faster wireless internet connection, and more powerful chip, Apple is continuing to be seen as a leader in technology. But perhaps more important, the "super sweet" and techy advances in the new iPhone stick to Apple's brand - Think Different.

The only challenge I see in what clearly are products promoted to make life easier for it's users is the new cord connector. The previous connector that connected the iPhone to various Apple products has undergone a change. Apple said the new connector, called "Lightning", is more durable and will free up space for other technologies in the iPhone.

With the new iPhone starting at $199, Apple said people who buy the new phone will have to purchase an cord adapter in order to plug the new phone into their other Apple devices. Luckily, other than charging, a lot of Apple products function through wireless connections like Bluetooth. Apple also didn't say how much the new adapter would cost.

Apple customers are loyal customers - It's likely there's a person reading this post right now who's on their Mac computer, has their iPad on the table beside them, and is occasionally looking away from this post to check their iPhone for social media updates. Loyal customers spend a lot of money on Apple. To continue customer loyalty, asking customers to purchase a new adapter at extra cost and on their own time is a risky move. Customers may feel cheated and frustrated with this.

While discussing the cord adapter issue following the launch of what is to be expected a fantastic mobile phone may seem like an overreaction, it's not. Changes as little as this can influence customer mindsets and behaviours - in this case, customers may be angry enough to not purchase the new iPhone.

That being said, I think Apple chose to break this information to the public at an opportune time. Loyal Apple customers, new customers, and technological lovers alike were excited to see what amazing product Apple was going to debut. Throwing in the cord adapter issue probably didn't seem as big of a deal to consumers admist all the hype. They were likely more excited to see some cool new features.

This post has been my thoughts on brand/image consistency from a PR perspective!

To check out the features of the new iPhone 5, visit www.apple.com/iphone.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Blue Bombers: social media backlash

"The Bombers need to let fans in on the CFL club's business plan if they want to salvage what's left of the team's reputation" - Shirley Muir, president of PR House.

Tip: If you want to avoid a "Fire Joe Mack" Facebook page, and avoid it gaining 4,000 "likes", then it's time for a little two-way communication.

Please take two minutes to read the article here to better understand this post. The above quote was from the article, which mentioned some Bombers' disasters so far this year: an unfinished stadium, banning noisemakers and cowbells, firing former head coach LaPolice and oh ya, having the worst record in the league since hiring new coaching staff.

Much to many people's contrary, PR people don't have to be the "bad guys" if they don't want to be. There's often a stigma that PR people voluntarily withhold information from stakeholders. I haven't exactly entered the field as a professional yet, but any PR person should know that the profession relies on two-way communication.

PR House's Muir said the organization needs more help than a news release at this point. The fact Joe Mack refused to speak to the media after their 52-0 shutout loss last week doesn't exactly help the Bombers' case right now. Talking to media is your chance to explain the situation, not dealing with it makes matters worse and will likely upset people (hence the sack Joe Mack Facebook page).

Blue Bombers mishaps aren't going to end the world, but do you agree the PR department needs to step up their communication? I think keeping people informed will keep them happy, and then perhaps no one will regret tattooing "Swaggerville" on their arm come morning light.