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Archive for September 2010

Tribe Social Forum Review

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The Cleveland Indians PR department outdid itself again with the Tribe Social Forum

It is no secret that the Cleveland Indians baseball team is not a good one this season. Its public relations team, however, has been excellent. 

Social media has taken the world by storm over the course of about the last six years. What started as a small network restricted to college students has developed into a worldwide phenomenon. Now professional sports are becoming involved in social media. From front office executives all the way down to players, sports organizations are becoming involved in an effort to better connect with their fans. Perhaps none more so than the Cleveland Indians.

Many members of the Indians organization have been heavily active on Twitter this season, providing their followers with vital information ranging from daily team news all the way down to in-game updates. Their biggest development, however, was Tribe Social Deck, which allowed fans involved in social media to view an Indians game from a new perspective.

Last night the organization took another step toward social media immortality with the Tribe Social Forum, held in the Champions Suite of Progressive Field. For only $50, fans were given the opportunity to observe and participate in a question and answer session with a four member panel, overseen by Indians PR representatives, including vice president Bob DiBiasio, who served as mediator.

Current Tribe general manager and soon to be President Mark Shapiro began the forum with a short statement about the organization’s social media efforts and took questions of all types from the audience. He proclaimed that the team will continue to develop its already strong social media presence, stating that it is important to connect with fans.

Say what you will about Mark Shapiro. After hearing what he had to say last night, I strongly feel he understands the importance of connecting with the fans. Since the audience was not handpicked by the hosts and panel members, anybody could have come in off the streets and blasted Shapiro for the state the franchise. This fact alone shows that the Indians are willing to take risks to become connected with its paying customers at a greater level.

After Shapiro’s session concluded, Bob DiBiasio presented the four person panel with a series of questions regarding social media, both on a professional and personal level. The general consensus was that different levels of discretion should be used by social media users, depending on the purpose. For instance, those who use social media to search for a job should refrain from using disparaging remarks toward companies. Above all else, the importance of two-way communication was heavily stressed throughout the forum.

Once the forum (and the late afternoon rainstorm) concluded, those who attended the forum were invited to stay and watch the Indians take on the Los Angeles Angels from the Champions Suite at the stadium. They were treated to an “all you can eat” buffet, as well as dessert from the Terrace Club. In addition, public relations representatives Curtis Danburg and Rob Campbell (@tribetalk on Twitter) stayed at the suite for the duration of the game to socialize with the attendees. Bob DiBiasio himself also returned to the suite late in the game.

The highlights of my experience were having the opportunity to ask Mark Shapiro the only question he fielded pertaining to roster matters, having casual baseball discussions with DiBiasio, Campbell, and Danburg at various points throughout the game, and finally, exchanging high-fives with all three men in celebration as the Indians won the game in walk-off fashion.

After attending the Tribe Social Forum, as well as watching a game from the Tribe Social Deck earlier this season, I can only wonder what other pro sports organizations go to such lengths to connect with their fans on a deeper level like the Indians. The Cleveland Indians may be a team in a state of disarray at the moment. But while front office members continue their work to turn the franchise around, the public relations team is revolutionizing the social media aspect of professional sports.

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Written by apokorny

September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Tupa’s Son Inherits Brecksville Legacy

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Brecksville quarterback Tom Tupa, III looks to pick up where his dad left off.

The last time I set foot on the campus of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School for a regular season varsity football game was almost nine years ago. I joined several of my fellow classmates who graduated just four months earlier to watch the following Bees season’s homecoming game. I had not been to a game since.

This past weekend I was given a reason to finally return to watch my alma mater in action. His name was Tom Tupa, III. Does the name ring a bell? Avid football fans recognize the name and make the connection. Tupa, III is the son of former NFL quarterback-turned-Pro Bowl punter Tom Tupa, Jr. After research, I discovered the latter was in fact the junior of the two.

What fans outside of the town I spent most of my life in do  not know is the connection runs deeper. Tupa, Jr. is also a Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School alumnus. Twenty-seven years ago he led the Brecksville Bees to the division II state football championship.

Since that time, the school has had many excellent teams, winning a few championships in the now defunct Pioneer Conference. Players from my class rank either first or second on the school’s single season record list for rushing and passing yardage and receptions since 1993, all set our senior year. However, it has not come close to producing another state championship team.

Sophomore quarterbacks are not expected to carry their teams in their first years playing on the varsity team. While this is also true for Tupa, III, there are circumstances in place that suggest he is capable of the task. Not only does he have the family genes, but his father is also the Bees’ offensive coordinator.

The kid wasted no time in displaying his potential on opening night when he took Brecksville from a halftime deficit to a 21-17 comeback victory over rival North Royalton to claim possession of the golden boot the teams have fought over for decades.

After reading all the hype, I decided to return to Brecksville this past Friday night to witness firsthand exactly what Tupa, III can do. Another reason I decided to attend the game was because the defense Brecksville was facing in Medina was coached by my godfather. I was very interested in seeing what type of game plan my uncle came up with to combat the father-son Tupa combination.

The two Bees teams battled back and forth as the game was close at halftime. But then Medina made adjustments to both sides of its game. A strong rushing attack grounded the tempo of the game way down, allowing its defense to remain fresh and focus on Brecksville’s attempt at an air raid. The result was a 42-14 victory for Medina.

Tom Tupa, III performed as advertised. Rated the best drop-back quarterback in the country by two recruiting websites, Tupa looked extremely poised in the pocket and his passing was very crisp. Not only was he accurate, but he could throw the long ball as well, connecting on a 46-yard pass early in the game. What hurt him appeared to be his receivers. He suffered from dropped balls, tight Medina coverage, and an interception which was tipped by his own man. Yet, he still completed 15 of 24 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.

One can only speculate on what the future holds for Tom Tupa, III. After a solid first two weeks on varsity, he appears to be picking up right where his dad left off 27 years earlier. For the next three years, all eyes in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights school district will be on the youngster, hoping his career as the Bees’ quarterback will include a state championship as well.

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