In the middle of April, something pretty cool happened about 100 miles north of San Diego: The Dodgers invited several people who blog about the team to hang out in a luxury suite with staffers during a game. Reaching out to folks who talk about them constantly — almost obsessively — in a public forum was a shrewd move on the part of the Dodgers.
The good folks at Statistically Speaking have invited me to participate in their latest roundtable discussion. In it, we talk about Trevor Hoffman, stats on TV broadcasts, and small-sample wonders.
I mentioned that the bloggers hung out with team staffers, but that doesn’t do it justice. The names of those staffers? Ned Coletti, Frank McCourt, and Tommy Lasorda. You may have heard of them.
Even if you’re a cynic who believes such a maneuver could be motivated only by the desire to buy influence, you have to admit, the Dodgers went all out in their efforts. It’s not every day that a team’s most ardent and vocal supporters get an audience with the general manager, owner, and iconic figure.
One of our regular readers (Coronado Mike) noticed what the Dodgers had done and suggested that maybe the Padres could put something similar together for their bloggers. I offered no comment at the time, but in fact, I was trying to organize such a meetup with the club.
Although the Padres and I had some good dialogue, ultimately it bore no fruit. Why? Well, that’s not for me to guess, but it’s my hope that the intial groundwork laid in these discussions eventually will lead to something greater.
Meanwhile, I’m glad to see teams starting to think of folks who are passionate about their product as good customers rather than enemies of the state. As a blogger, I’m thrilled at what the Dodgers did and I hope that other teams will follow their lead. As a business owner, I’m impressed by the team’s emphasis on fostering goodwill in the community. As a Padres fan, of course, I’m disappointed that the Dodgers beat our guys to the punch. But in the end, I like to think that we’re all better off — even if only in some small way — for what our neighbors to the north did a few weeks ago.
The Dodgers have a loyal following. Even though they didn’t need to reach out, they did it anyway. I don’t buy into the sense of entitlement that some bloggers seem to adorn, but I do think that most people appreciate being appreciated. I also think that teams whose following may not be as loyal as the Dodgers’ might want to take note of that organization’s actions. The Dodgers saw an opportunity to connect with their customers and advocates, and they pounced on it.
Smart business decision, that.