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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.

 Credit for image: mlb.com

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Written by apokorny

September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm

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