Tag Archives: teams

Sports Can Learn a Few Things From Gov 2.0

October 9, 2009

14 Comments

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“Dear [fill in your favorite sports team],

You may think of me as a fan or as a ticket-holder now, but if you give me the chance, I’d gladly be a marketing specialist, brand ambassador, web developer, community organizer and data cruncher.  Oh yeah – I’ll also do all these things for free if you’d just ask.”

Sincerely,
Joe Sports Fan

In a recent post, I discussed some of the similarities that I saw between the government’s experiences with social media and the challenges that professional sports teams are facing in diving into the world of social media.  As I thought about it some more, I figured that if these teams are facing many of the same challenges that government agency does, they can probably also take advantage of some of the same strategies that government agencies have deployed too.

As a sports fan and a government consultant, here are some of the government’s social media initiatives that I’d like to see cross over to the sports industry:

  • A closed Intranet for all of the teams in a particular league. Imagine an Intelink-like service where every MLB team’s communications staff could log in and share information with each other. There’s obviously some very heated competition among the teams, but there’s also a lot of camaraderie that already exists.  I’m not suggesting that general managers get on here and blog about player transactions or scouting strategies, but they could definitely share their ideas for promotions and community events, best practices for engaging with season ticket holders, or how they’re using social media – things that help the entire league.  With the right education and change management support, an Intranet like this could help raise the quality and consistency of communications across the league, thereby selling more tickets and making more money for everyone.
  • An Apps for Baseball (or Football, Hockey, etc.) contest. Similar to the Apps for America contests made possible by sites like data.gov, why can’t one of the sports leagues partner with the Elias Sports Bureau to open up the MASSIVE amount of sports statistics on an accessible platform and then engage the sports-loving public to create web-based, iPhone, JAVA, and other applications?
  • A Recovery.gov for a sports team –  I would love to see my favorite team open up their books to the public and say, “here’s our payroll, our ticket revenue, our marketing budget, our merchandising revenue, our property taxes – here’s everything that comes in and goes out, and oh, by the way, after all that, we still lost $3M.”  There’s a lot of mystery about what it costs to actually run a team, how much of the money is public vs. private funds, and why teams that are still shelling out millions of dollars for free agents are saying they’re losing millions of dollar per year.  The fans want answers to these questions and they want to feel as though they’re partners in the future success of the team. Open up your books and show the fans that there’s nothing to hide (unless, that is, you have something to hide). The Green Bay Packers are probably the sports industry’s leaders in this area, being a publicly-owned team, but just because other teams aren’t legally obligated to release their financials doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
  • More leadership accessibility. I want to see more Mark Cubans out there engaging with their fans.  Players like Chris Cooley and Chad Ochocinco and league officials like Brian McCarthy and Mike DiLorenzo have done a tremendous job of using social media to reach out to their fans and engage in real conversations, creating fan loyalty and ownership in the player, league, and/or franchise.  Just as leaders from across the government are getting on Twitter and blogging, why aren’t more team owners, general managers, and other front office types using these tools to talk with their fans NOT market to their fans.

There are real opportunities for the sports industry to leverage some of these same concepts and tactics that are now driving Government 2.0. Teams and leagues can use these ideas to do more than just sell more tickets, but to create a community of interested, informed, and passionate partners, developers, and brand ambassadors.  Who would have thought that an NFL or MLB team could learn a few things about communications, agility, transparency and authenticity from the federal government?

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