Em Media

The Pirates' PR Nightmare and How They Can Fix It

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Posted by Jim Emmerling

Jun 8, 2018 5:50:20 PM

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More than a week has come and passed since my May 30 post about the poor decision making by the Pittsburgh Pirates ball club. At that time, I wrote that our team had won only 2 of its last 11 games. Since then, we have only won 5 of our last 20. That statement about the organization’s questionable decision making has proven more and more credible within the past several days.

We continue to repeat the same failing decisions. Among the most disappointing performances are those by Rodriguez, Freese and Polanco. Yet, game after game they are back in the lineup, making the same mistakes over and over. Let’s be real. If these guys aren’t the future, why not cut them loose now?

I have little doubt that there are good things going on within the organization, behind closed doors, to right the ship. But that good is not being adequately communicated to the public, which only adds to the frustration of your average Pirate fan who views the organization as stagnate and indifferent. And as we say in public relations, perception is reality.

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Another public relations rule of thumb is that for every negative statement made about your organization by your audience or in the press, you must counter with 10 positives. Considering the PR nightmare the Pirates organization has created, they need to focus their efforts on communicating those positives. Not just communicating them on ballgame broadcasts, they need to communicate a strong, concise message to fans via all channels: traditional media, social media, advertising, ticket sales...I could go on. Be direct. Be truthful. If needed, reach out to firms like EM-Media to discuss perception and messaging.

The negative perception of Pirates management is affecting not only the feelings of the fans but the spirit of ballpark employees. For stadium personnel, in most every aspect, morale is at an all time low, from ushers to vendors. This creates a less than desirable fan experience for the loyal few that actually attend. Why should we subject ourselves to that?

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Here’s an example of what I mean by countering a negative with a positive. My ticket representative Kevin Roach is the absolute best! He drinks the “Bucco Kool-Aid” ad nauseum, but his loyalty to his employer is admirable. The logic he uses to counter my views is articulate and based on metrics, which makes sense scientifically, but in the reality of intangibles, it doesn’t hold water.

Is there a God or not? Science might say no—I strongly feel otherwise!

As great as Kevin is, the ticket experience means nothing if fans aren’t going to the games due to their poor perception of the organization.

Economic growth in the North Side is one of EM-Media’s biggest social concerns. The economic crisis on the North Shore will continue to compound as businesses begin to close due to lack of patronage. I have spoken to several businesses who are experiencing about a 50% decrease in sales from previous years, and I’ve commiserated with sales reps and ushers and bartenders who are starving for income.

I’m willing to organize a meeting with area businesses within a mile and a half of the ballpark in hopes of creating a culture of trust between businesses and the Pirate ownership that brings us together to create an atmosphere that will draw in fans. Businesses need to buy in with ticket purchases, and the Bucs need to buy in with better communication.

Bottom line: plenty can be done by Nutting & Co., but they are currently too frugal and out of touch. That’s not to say that can’t change. Anything is possible!

Forever a Pirate fan. Let’s Go Bucs!

Best,

Jim

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